Never in a million years did I think I would be saying what I'm about to say.
I have always thought of myself as a people person. In fact, a non-stop social-dynamo is perhaps a closer characterisation. Not so long ago, I would have spent every spare minute bouncing from one social interaction to the next, constantly surrounding myself with others, rarely taking a moment to myself.
I remember once I was totally baffled by a friend calmly announcing at the start of our girls trip that at some points she may disappear for a little while to get some "alone time". Whilst I admired her clarity and frankness on what she needed, the concept totally baffled me. Surely something was wrong? Had someone upset her? She must be unhappy about something! But no - not at all, she just knew that taking a little time out for herself kept her calm, centred and happy. Ppffff mind officially boggled!
Fast forward a few years and here I am, just back in from a beautiful walk flying totally solo, reflecting on how much I adore a little piece of my day that is all about me. Even the pup didn't make the walk - it was pure, unadulterated Georgie time. Bliss!
And so I encourage you to think on this;
If constantly surrounded by others - at work, at home, bouncing from one interaction to the next - how much focus and attention are you likely to commit to yourself?
If we're in the business of chasing our lobsters (which I sincerely hope we all are), then regularly dedicating some of our attention, time, love and energy towards ourselves and our dreams is absolutely vital for progress and success, let alone health and vitality!
In truth, if you're anything like me and love to help others, achieving this when constantly surrounded by people is practically impossible. You will forever be bumped to the back of the queue for your attention.
Well, after several international moves and an ever-growing network of lovely friends to uphold and enjoy, it eventually took one almighty crash of my poor little adrenal glands (the stress hormone managers) for my body to finally say STOP!
so here it is...
If this is sounding at all familiar, then I implore you take a minute to pause and take stock of your interactive habit and ask yourself a couple of questions:
1) Is this social-dynamo lifestyle serving you well? Are you truly happy, healthy, well-rested and energised?
2) Is your behaviour possibly clever avoidance of something deeper?
I realise now that my social habits went into hyperdrive when Graham was deployed to Afghanistan. If I kept ridiculously busy, I didn't have to face the darkness that swept in when I was alone.
The trouble is, when he came back the habits continued...because they had become exactly that - habits. 'Yes' was my automatic answer to every social event and 'free' evenings or weekends became as mythical as unicorns.
Alone time can be exceptionally restorative, energising and grounding but I also know it can be a dark place. Loving yourself enough to dedicate time to yourself and to then sit in your own company without nastiness or judgement isn't always easy. Moreover, without the social presence of others, naughty habits of self-sabotage are often more likely to sneak in, thus further putting us off alone time (oops, that's the entire carton of ice cream gone in one sitting!)
Don't get me wrong - I still adore socialising. I draw so much energy, joy and vibrance from being in good peoples' company. I love to share experiences and adventures with my good friends and loving family. But man do I also love Georgie time. In fact these days, I crave alone time. WHO'DA THUNK IT?!
So my point is this; whether you're an introvert, extrovert, extroverted-introvert or whatever, I truly believe that we ALL need some regular time to ourselves.
Yes yes, I hear the cries of "It's easy for you to say" coming from the hoards of new Mums, working-Mums, single parents, CEO's and snowed-under first year associates. My response?
Find a solution. Make it happen.
For some, as little as 10 minutes a day can be enough to check-in with themselves and re-centre, others may need several hours to fully re-energise. Whatever it takes, just start with something! We need to recognise that a little 'me-time' each week can drastically improve quality of life, emotional calm, productivity and ultimately the energy and enjoyment we glean from those social times. Just give it a go and see how you feel!
One last little tip - when you do take the time out for yourself, keep it for yourself! Don't disconnect from yourself by diving into other people's 'lives' on social media or hours of mindless TV. Instead, indulge yourself - read, bake, have a hot-bath, pamper yourself, get outside and go for a walk, journal, meditate, stretch, watch an episode of your absolute favourite programme. Do something that brings you joy and fills you up!
Trust me, I think you'll like it ;-)