As a sprinter who eventually found her happy place in middle distance, I was forced to learn the fine art of pacing as a runner. My inclination was to go all out in the first 100 yards (as it was when I first began), but I soon learned better. Each leg needed to have my best, not just the first.
The need for this is no less important for the introvert during the holidays. I was just sharing with my Bible study today how many community offerings woo me this time of year; everything from my kids’ Advent and Christmas programs to college presentations of the Nutcracker and other annual delights.
“If we wanted to, we could be busy with holiday events every single night,” a friend said, and it’s true.
But is that a good idea? In a recent Reader’s Digest interview, Susan Cain, author of the best-selling book on introversion, “Quiet,” said that introverts shouldn’t accept all the invitations they may receive during this time of year. “Give yourself a social quota; decide how many functions to attend, and offer your regrets with regard to the others.”
For the ones you do accept, she said, if needed, you can plan an early exit. “You don’t have to stay for the whole thing,” she said. “I have a friend who always leaves after an hour and 35 minutes.”
And that’s okay. It really is. Because, after all, this time of year is all about what I call the “white spaces.” Without them, we can easily drown. Filling up the blank slates of our lives each day with only black marks of busy will bring us introverts to the brink. It’s tempting, but resist the urge to say yes to every star-light invitation that comes your way.
I’ve had to say no to a few things already this season, and while I do admit to feeling a tinge of guilt, in the end, it felt so right to prioritize holiday events. One way that helped narrow it down was realizing that our children right now keep us plenty busy with holiday events that bring precious warmth to my heart. So as long as I have children who are involved in these productions, I’m going to focus on their events for now. Soon enough, they’ll be out of the nest, and I’ll be yearning for a Christmas play or concert somewhere, but focusing on our small circle really works quite well at this phase, and makes logical sense, too.
Q4U: Are you strong enough to say “No” to some of the holiday invitations the might come your way so you can say “Yes” to the ones that matter most?