©2020 Erin Newton, www.thewellnessgarden.ca, All rights reserved
There is something about being awake when the world is still and everyone else is tucked in their beds that makes you contemplate the universe. Each morning while I walk my dog, Wilbur, my mind thinks all of the thoughts that are too big for me to think at home. In fact, it is only the promise of thinking time that quiets the protest in my head when my excited pup pulls me from the comfort of slumber and into the early morning hour.
You see, I crave solitude so much that I wake up before my family every day just so that I can be alone. Don’t get me wrong: I love my family and they’re cool people and all. But, I know that being alone for regular intervals is essential to my mental health and well-being. Not only am I an introvert, but I am an anxious introvert who masquerades as an extrovert. I do this every dang day and it’s exhausting!
Even though I am a care-giver who instinctively loves and supports other people, there’s another part of me that wants to remain a quiet, unruffled observer of the world. Truth be told, other people and their needs are a constant source of pressure for me. Despite this, each and every day, I dutifully get up, get out the door and present myself to the world as an extrovert. I do good work this way, but it requires a level of emotional vulnerability that drains me every day.
As I get older, I find that I am craving quiet and solitude even more. My thoughts are like my closest friends and I can’t wait to be with them in a way that can’t happen when other people are around. Sometimes, I actually feel excitement at the thought of turning off the light and going to bed because it means that I can lay there and hear my thoughts again without interference or interruption.
The bottom line is that introverts--especially anxious ones--need periods of peace and solitude as bulwark against the insistence of socializing. We need to build in times in our day when we can recharge. For a long time, I ignored my need for this time and the result was regular emotional burnout. I have now created my own little office space in my home and that room is like a sanctuary. I’ve outlined boundaries and my family respects them. The kids knock before entering; they don’t disturb me unless it’s important. My family understands that when I emerge from my happy place, I will be rejuvenated. And, that’s good news for everyone.
And so, as Wilbur and I walked the streets this morning, when the sun had not yet risen and even the birds were barely awake, I could feel my emotional batteries charging. It only took me 45 years to understand myself and to lay down the boundaries required to function successfully as the anxious introvert in an extroverted world.