I had a conversation with my boyfriend last night about different personality types, which came about after an extremely minor argument about me declining a last-minute invitation from one of our mutual friends to attend a play, just because I wanted some time to myself.
See, last weekend (Thursday - Sunday, to be precise), I was out of my comfort zone as one of the bridesmaids for my cousin's wedding (and we're so close that we're practically sisters). This meant wearing a dress, having my picture taken and socializing with people I either didn't know, don't see very often, or don't care to see at all. This was not a bad experience. I just want to be clear. There was a lot of work involved, making sure that everything was ready and trying to keep the bride's mother (my aunt) from dissolving into a puddle of stressed goo, but the wedding itself was extremely fun. Even the caterers said that it was probably the best party they'd ever worked.
So my point is that I had spent four solid days being around lots of people, expending energy to be social and polite, which is the way I've learned I need to be if I don't want people to think that I'm a cold, stuck-up, standoffish person. I wasn't ready to be social again, so I said, "No," to a play with my friend, and had a quiet evening at home by myself. I made some home-made California rolls, watched some MST3K, and browsed the ODeck and other internet hives to see what everyone else was up to.
My boyfriend thought (probably does still think, a little) that I close myself off from the world and miss out on a lot of fun experiences. I argued back that I'm not missing out on anything, because if I'm not comfortable and relaxed (which I wouldn't be if I forced myself to be social last night) then how could I possibly be having fun? It would all be fake, and it would only take more out of me. I asserted that I'm in tune with the needs of my personality, and I probably should have said that I'm in tune with the needs of my body because I definitely feel physically exhausted when I'm over-extending my introvert self, and people are more willing to accept physical needs over emotional/personality needs. I resented his implication that I was somehow living life "wrong," and that this was something I needed to "fix." This comic that I found at LaughingSquid really captures how I feel.
There's got to be a balance, of course. It's not like I never go out. It's not like I don't have any friends, or fun, or what have you. I save a lot of my social energy reserves for dealing with people at work, and for special occasions or social outings I have time to plan for. It's okay (most of the time) when I know it's coming.
But sometimes I need some time to re-charge. Sometimes I need to be alone so that I can think and relax. Sometimes, I'm totally with Roy on this one:
Some people (extroverts) can only be relaxed and happy when they're with other people, and socializing. Some people gain their energy by having fun in a group. I'm not one of them, so that's hard for me to understand. But having recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, it could be that as much as two-thirds of the population does it this way, and that extroverted traits are more prized in U.S. society than introverted traits.
So how about it, Niners? Where is your happy place, and how do you get there?