Confessions of an Extroverted Introvert

This reflection was penned in January, after what felt like a very long summer holidays with my two beloved children:

I have not sat down to write in the last two months, mostly because the reality of having the children home for school holidays pretty much left me a creative blank, as in, by the end of the holidays my brain felt genuinely blank. For those who managed to get themselves to yoga classes over the summer break, many thanks for you patience and lack of concern for my random empty pauses when I completely lost my train of thought. You see I love my children deeply and completely, but in truth find the demands of being in their company for extended periods (eg 8 weeks of holidays) completely draining and exhausting: I become irritated, short fused and fight or flight kicks in. On any given parenting day I tend to flow reasonable well until about 1 or 2 pm by which stage I am ready for a big fat slab of time to myself, ideally a good couple of hours until I can rediscover my mojo in order to get dinner together. But let's be honest, most parental circumstance don't allow for this, particularly for those with children under school age.

As a teen and into my early twenties I certainly enjoyed aspects of the social and party scene, however even then I would generally only go out once a week and was known miss out on events in favour of an early night much to my elder sisters amusement (seriously, I just sometimes wouldn't go to an event I had already purchased tickets for if I wasn't feeling up to the crowds and excitement, and no I am certainly not frezelous with money). I never lived in a 'share house' because quite frankly the idea of it completely freaks me out. The closest I came to it was living briefly in a flats type arrangement while attending University. I don't do shopping for fun, in fact I loath shopping and always plan the quickest and easiest way in and out.

(This is starting to sound like a version of The Lemonheads "the outdoor type", but more in a 'I lied about being and indoor city type' way, because a rock climbing weekend sounds awesome)

Large crowds, bright lights and too much noise tend to be a tad too over stimulating and though I do love a good music festival, when I do attend them I usually require a good few solid days of hibernation post. I even find living in suburbia somewhat intense and have always felt more grounded and at ease when living on larger acreage blocks with my neighbours somewhere WAY over there.

The truth is that I am most at ease and content when in the company of myself or my partner, when the opportunity to move through the day without external pressure, observation or significant interaction is required. Many years ago a psychologist I was seeing described the concept of an extroverted introvert to me. That is, a person who easily and meaningfully interacts and finds joy in social situations/interactions but requires significant downtime by themselves to recharge and refill their cup. I love teaching and conversing with my students, spending time with family and friends, but when the weeks of commitments start mounting up I start shutting down and genuinely struggling in social environments. I apologise to anyone who has tried to make conversation with me when I am in an 'over socialised' state, I tend to come off a bit withdrawn and abrasive.

So what does this mean as a parent? It means it can be challenging, sometimes especially hard after having spent significant amounts of time with the kids in their amazing unhindered energy and exuberance. They (or at least my two do) happily bicker and rage, becoming friends and then not friends again one hundred times a day with energy flying all over the place. Often this could be settled by a social outing and change of scene but the truth is that at this stage the children and I need different things. They need to go and hang out with other people and I need to retreat into my hermit hole and be alone. Obviously kid swaps can work, but this often depends on just how much solo time I am in desperate need of. You see I am most joyous to pass my munchkins over to others for a play date, however if my introvert bank is empty the idea of returning the favour and taking someone else's kids for a while can be extremely daunting...

The Solution? As is often the case, I'm not 100% sure. The bulk of this post was written at the tail end of the school summer holidays when I was feeling completely spent. I made a commitment at that time to make "me time" a priority, for everyone's sake. I vowed to try and embrace the fact that I am simply not an extrovert and that is OK. Now in March I have had a pretty successful go at following through on this commitment, and with the swing and school and preschool back in action and regular time to myself I feel significantly more grounded and functional. Thank you yoga for keeping me 'keeping on' when I felt all of my edges were frayed and unravelling.

This world needs all types of people to carry good and true intention in their hearts. Even hermit type people whom would prefer to potter in their garden and go to the beach by themselves then attend a dinner party.


Esther McVicar

Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga Teacher

Classes in Murwillumbah and Cabarita Beacg