We’d only been friends a year, but as we looked over the busy itinerary together at the beginning of my part-business-part-reunion visit, I was direct.
“At some point today I’m going to need to lie down in a quiet spot for 20 to 30 minutes.”
Our weekend was going to be packed to the gills. That very evening, after a day of back-to-back errand running, we’d be joining forces to give a presentation to a group of people.
The need for a rest midday wasn’t a question of preference but survival. Indeed, after a lifetime of lessons, I’m finally figuring out what I need to offer my best, and how to ask for it.
I now know that whenever I’m in the middle of busy, it’s imperative I carve out time to let my mind go free for a while — like a drive on the open road, little traffic, a lot of lovely white noise to pull me in.
|Lovely, Lonely Road Somewhere in Eastern Montana/Roxane B. Salonen
Sometimes, it requires an all-out mental shut-down. To that end, I’ve been a napper for as long as I can remember, with the exception of some preschool years when I resisted naps because they’d been coerced. But eventually, napping became one of my must-haves in order to thrive.
Unlike some of my writer friends, I rarely used my kids’ afternoon nap times to write. Instead, I stole away with them, using that time to become rejuvenated so I could make it through Act II.
I’ve been chided by some for my napping ways, made to question whether I’m a bit of a sloth, even. Many non-nappers have told me they can’t nap because they’d fall deeply asleep and feel worse than ever upon waking.
Not me. I can do a power nap like nobody’s business. Fifteen minutes of crash time on the bed and I’m a new woman.
About five years ago, I listened to a presentation at a communications luncheon; the talk given by someone well-respected in his field, a creative genius of sorts. And guess what he admitted to? Being a tried-and-true napper. He can’t get along without his naps, he told us, and I sat there nodding, knowing exactly what he meant.
Which brings us back to introversion — a topic I’ve been obsessing over lately because so many little lights have gone on as I’ve regarded it in relation to how I best operate.
Consider this simple definition of introversion a friend shared with me recently: “Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction.”
Bingo. Which is why, around 6 p.m., after several hours of after-school taxiing, especially if I’ve had an already stimulating day, I will likely proclaim at some point, “I’m hitting my wall.” I’ve literally held up my hand to stop one of the kids from sharing one more thing with me because I’m on complete overload, and it wouldn’t be fair for me to pretend otherwise. In fact, I can’t pretend. The need to shut down becomes critical.
Often when this happens, I will get dinner started, then go down to my bedroom, shut the door, and fall sideways onto the bed and go completely still while I wait for the timer to ring. This kind of power nap will usually get me back in motion enough to finish off the night.
I’ve also noticed that if I have a choice of how many interactions I’ll have in a day, it’s best to spread the planned ones out. Getting together with someone for coffee for either business or pleasure, followed by luncheon for either of the two same reasons, would do me in. Because I process internally, it’s simply too much.
Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, says many introverts end up having to act like extroverts to get by. “A lot of us are out there behaving as extroverts … but then we have to shut it down. I call it my ‘dog and pony show.’ But then you have to be quiet and regain your energy for the next time. The longer I’m out there putting on the show, the longer I need to recuperate.”
Before driving home from a funeral this past weekend, I asked my mom if I could rest at her place for a bit before hitting the road for the final leg of my journey. Drive time means “on” time. It’s stimulating. And after three hours of that on Sunday, I was begging for rest time again.
Yes, those of us who lean toward introversion need to pace ourselves.
Call me weak, but I certainly don’t see it as that. In order to be there for others, I must satisfy this need to replenish my reserves. If I don’t, I won’t be anywhere for anyone. To me, it’s a sign of strength not weakness whenever you can honor who you are. It’s called balance, and it’s necessary to be whole.
I’m writing this not to convince myself but to perhaps give other introverts, closeted or otherwise, a chance to see yourself through my experiences, observations and revelations, and perhaps, through this, give yourself a bit of a break — in the day, on the bed, in the corner, whatever — guilt-free.