I knew things were about to get ugly. Everything just seemed so… loud. Conversations became labored and my stare became vacant. I had a meltdown while vacuuming the living room. The hamster wheel in my brain came to a screeching halt.
You see, for two straight weeks, I spent each moment with another person. For a while I blended in with the best of them. But after a few days, my body and my brain were both fatigued. The symptoms were familiar: I was suffering from extrovert impostor syndrome.
Recognizing the signs, I said something like, Tomorrow is Mallory Day! Just me and my Netflix account!
This always sends my loved ones into a state of alarm. Alone time? What did we do to upset you? Do you need a HUG?! More often than I’d like, I am guilted into giving up those savory bits of quiet for a few more hours of socialization.
So what’s an introvert to do?
You find a socially acceptable form of solitude.
I had this epiphany for the first time back in November. Thanksgiving was around the corner, my family was in town, and I was getting also getting married. People wanted to spend time with me. Lots of it. It was beautiful and flattering… and draining. My saving grace was the
stupid awesome idea to run a 10K race just two days before the wedding.
Much to my delight, running in this race was the only alone time I found all week. I had time to actually process the milestone that was right ahead of me. More importantly, no one gave me crap for being quiet.
Find your own way to retreat. Maybe for you it’s practicing an instrument, writing, or playing a video game. For me, it’s putting on a pair of sneaks and running along with the hamster spinning on the wheel in my brain. Running is time to exercise my legs, my lungs, and my mind. It’s glorious, zenlike alone time.
And no one is going to give you hard time for taking care of yourself. That is, as long as it’s cool.