(HealthyResearch.com) – Ask most people how they’d label their friends and family members, and they’ll tell you the quiet people in their lives are introverts and their loud, boisterous friends are extroverts. The truth? It’s totally possible to be shy and extroverted, or loud and introverted. The true definition lies in how you gain energy or recharge yourself. Knowing the difference is key to finding balance between the social and solo time in your life.
Introvert vs Extrovert
The crux of these personality labels is relatively straightforward. Introverts tend to use alone time to energize themselves. They don’t enjoy the spotlight and are more likely to express interest in a quiet evening on the couch than at a dance club or bar. Extroverts find energy in large crowds and may enjoy being the center of attention.
According to Prevention, the differences in these personality traits aren’t that cut and dried for most people. They’re very fluid, constantly fluctuating and changing. So while some people might place themselves at one end of the curve or the other, the majority of people tend to float somewhere in the middle, displaying introverted and extroverted traits at any given time.
Social vs Solo Time
So, where does that leave us when it comes to finding that critical balance between quiet, alone time and meeting our social needs and obligations? You need to start by being realistic about what’s required of you every day. You may be a very talented, outgoing manager with strong leadership skills but find yourself absolutely drained after a full day of meetings, phone calls, and social interactions. It isn’t that these experiences aren’t enjoyable or that the engagement doesn’t contribute to progress. They simply don’t always give you the time and space you need to reconnect with yourself.
On the other hand, you might find yourself working in a creative space that requires solitude in order for the creative juices to flow. A lot of creative people are incredibly productive when alone but then find themselves starved for human interaction. Breaking free of the chains of isolation is critical to avoid long-term effects like procrastination or depression.
Tips for Finding True Balance
Do you find yourself struggling to find balance, or feeling guilty when you need to set boundaries? Once you know whether you lean more towards an introverted or extroverted lifestyle, you should be able to more easily identify where you need to fill in the gaps. You may want to try:
- Monitoring your emotions. You may go through phases in your life where you feel great around others and then suddenly find you are in a phase where you’d prefer to be alone. Make adjustments to your schedule as necessary to give yourself more or less alone time.
- Becoming more conscious of the way you spend your time. Some people have extroverted friends who drag them along, while others feel they need to be social to fit in with coworkers. You don’t have to go to every happy hour or cocktail party just because others view it as the socially acceptable thing to do.
- Gently saying “no” to some of the invitations you receive. This is especially important if you constantly feel as though you are “always busy” with no time to yourself. Remember, there is no need to over-explain yourself or make excuses. Simply let the person who extended the invitation know you are grateful but have other plans.
- Participating in activities that give you the best of both worlds. For example, Juha Kaartoluoma of Tiny Buddha took a solo backpacking trip across Europe. Solo travel allowed him to move about alone whenever he liked, but staying in hostels gave him the opportunity to meet new people, socialize and travel with others when he wanted.
- Making time to be with the people you care about. It’s okay to love your quiet time during the week and then enjoy your rowdy friends or huge family gathering on the weekend. Not receiving invitations and desire social interaction? Take charge and extend them instead.
No matter what you choose, make sure you are prioritizing yourself when you set your schedule each day or week. Finishing up a marathon book-writing session? Schedule some coffee dates with friends. Headed into conference and presentation season at work? Make sure those dates on the couch with a good book are on your calendar, too.
Remember, you are a unique and constantly evolving human being. Feeling a shift in your personality is perfectly acceptable. The key is to recognize the changes happening within yourself so you can honor your ongoing needs for time, space, and social interaction. That, right there, is where balance lies.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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