I’m getting better at communicating my needs. Last week I was with my family on a vacation in Mexico – my first family trip in 2 years. I’m used to traveling alone, living alone, and being on my own most of the time. I love my family AND my introverted self was worried about being around people non-stop for 5 days.
Our flight was at 6am and the Uber picked us up at 3:30am to head to the airport. I didn’t get much sleep; I was grumpy and grumbling one word responses when anyone tried to talk to me. By the time we arrived in Mexico, I was exhausted and craved alone time.
On the first night after dinner, I didn’t join in and play charades, our family’s favorite game. Instead, I slinked off to bed and mumbled “Sorry, gotta go, good night.” I felt like a rude brat for getting up and practically running away. My inner critic went off on a rant, “You’re acting like a b*&ch, stop being so grumpy, etc., etc..” Ugg, I could not spend the rest of my vacation feeling guilty for taking care of myself.
The next morning, after a full night’s rest, I rejoined my family at the breakfast table. As everyone began eating, I clinked a fork against my juice glass and said, “I have a family announcement.”
I glanced around the table, then directly at Courtney, my sister-in-law, and Brian, my sister’s boyfriend. I announced, “For those of you new to the family, and those who have known me my whole life, I want to let you know I’m an introvert and need A LOT of alone time. When I leave meals early or don’t stay up late to play family games, please don’t take it personally. I get drained being around people constantly and I recharge by being alone. So when you see me leaving early, I’m not trying to be rude, I need to recharge my energy. Then I can come back in a great place and hang out with you guys, which I really want to do on this trip.”
As I spoke my voice was a bit shaky, a clear indicator I’m acting courageously by being vulnerable and sharing something personal. In spite of fearing how I might be perceived, my intuition said I MUST SPEAK UP or my vacation would be miserable.
After my family announcement, everyone at the table thanked me. The conversation opened up to who else was an introvert. The extroverts spoke up first. My brother, Hunter, shared he needs a day of chill time after about 4 months of non-stop activity and being around people. Brian said he loves being around people and is an extrovert all the way. Then everyone looked at my dad, an off the charts extrovert, who thrives in social settings and is happiest when talking with people….he smiled and concurred.
As we continued around the table, I asked my mom if she is an extrovert or introvert? “Extrovert,” she replied without hesitation. Then she shared a prime example…while she was raising my 3 siblings and me at home, she recharged her energy by getting out of the house and teaching English and Drama to high school students! Definitely an extrovert.
My sister, Jaden, chimed in and said after her bartender shift, she turns down the offer to stay and have a drink with her co-workers. She prefers to go home, be alone, and recharge by watching movies on the couch with her dog. She’s an introvert.
I shared that I recharge by being in nature, journaling, reading and taking long walks on the beach…alone! Then, after my solitude fix, I can enjoy long walks on the beach with others.
I felt proud of myself for speaking up. In turn, it opened up a new conversation in the family and opportunity for us to understand each other better.
Later that night, I stayed after dinner and played charades with my family. I had fun and did NOT feel guilty or criticize myself for leaving after 20 minutes of game time. It was a great combo of being with my family and honoring my introvert. When my energy started to plummet, I left gracefully, without apology, and headed to bed.
No one questioned or judged me. Most importantly, I didn’t judge me.
How do you recharge your energy? By being alone or with others? Being an introvert or extrovert is similar to being right or left handed; it’s how you’re wired.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? I’d love to hear, share in the comments below.
Knowing what you need is empowering; communicating what you need is liberating.