This past Wednesday I had my 23rd birthday, which was a self-celebration that made me have a few “aha” moments. When I thought about what I wanted to do this year to celebrate my day, I went through a plethora of possibilities. I could host a BBQ, go out in the city, invite friends out for dinner, the list goes on. But honestly, every time I thought about planning one of these options, my introverted brain got SUPER stressed out. I mean… just exhausted thinking about it.
Last year, you see, I had a big dinner out at a pub with about 20 friends. I felt showered in love, and was elated to have all of those people show up for me, but did I enjoy the planning and lead up? Nope. I was so stressed out the whole time, I kept thinking things like: Could a restaurant fit us all? Will people actually have fun? Is it conceited to plan such a big party for myself? If I invite this person, I HAVE to invite this person. Shoot, two more people are coming, I have to change the reservation.
So after all of my pondering for this year, I thought: I could… do nothing.
I felt an inner smile creep up.
By nothing, I meant nothing socially exhausting. Instead, I crafted an ideal me day.
Save for having dinner with my parents, I spent the whole day doing things solo. I did yoga, went for a hike, got my tarot cards read, meandered the aisles of my new favorite shop, made my own deodorant (don’t ask, lol).
I did all of that with just my own sweet company. And I relished in it.
I also used the day to reflect, plan, and quite honestly day dream. It made me feel clear and re-energized, instead of exhausted from going out late.
Although this may have been one of my favorite birthdays, I found it HILARIOUS how people reacted when I told them what I was doing on my special day.
I actually felt peoples pity or disappointment when I’d get texts saying, “so what are you up to today?!” and I would sputter off my little plans. Even my mom felt guilty that I went on a hike by myself, even though I kind of preferred it that way.
It was very interesting to see how societally, people don’t think its normal, in fact they think its almost sad, to do things on your own in certain situations. I mean, how many times have you seen someone eating alone in a restaurant and felt bad for them…
Even in writing this blog post, these were the stock photo options I got when I typed in “introvert”:
I never really understood all of this, and up until recently I honestly felt like I was weird and pathetic growing up when so many of my friends would hangout every day, and I preferred staying home.
That feeling totally changed after I watched Susan Cain’s TedTalk: The Power of Introverts.
In fact, it is my absolute FAVORITE TedTalk of all time now, and I annoyingly show it to anybody who will let me.
You can check out the video above, but in a nut-shell her talk was all about how our culture rewards extroverted people, and makes introverted people feel like they need to change how they act in social situations. Cain believes that we are doing a huge disservice to society by hindering introverts and not letting them work in their own way.
The idea that we can be unapologetically introverted was completely freeing. That we shouldn’t have to adapt to a culture that wants forced extroversion (and rewards it accordingly), but should be able to function in the way that makes the most sense to us as individuals. If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it (introverted or not).
Ever since then, I feel 0% guilt for doing my own thing, or saying no to projects that will drain my energy just to “get myself out there”.
So, I plead to you: don’t feel bad for people when they stay in on the weekend, or any day for that matter.
Sometimes, that’s just what we need, and that’s totally OKAY.
Here’s to another year of quiet reflection, alone time, and yes, seeing the people who make life a lot better.