Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Busyness and the Single Introvert

“I’m so busy.” We all say it. There is a lot of things to do and a lot of places to be. There are family pressures and obligations and work.

I hear it every day. But I don’t say it a lot unless I am talking about work. Because “I’m so busy” is not something that I typically am. I am so available. I am so unscheduled. I am so alone. Those are words I can relate to. “I’m so busy” are not some of them.

As a single introvert I like to dive deep into friendships and I crave good conversation. But it can be difficult to figure out how to break through other’s busyness to make new friends which I was reminded of recently when seasons changed. I suddenly found myself with ample free time and few friends to fill it. I found myself scrolling through my phone and my Facebook contacts, trying to figure it out. I don’t usually need many because I go “all in” with friends…but that can come back to bite me when people move or move on for one reason or another. And sometimes the empty calendar (especially during particularly “fun” seasons like summer) is hard to look at.

So I thought I would embrace the positive and be proactive. Look ahead at the schedule and see how I can fill it. Weekends are hard to fill though…that space is “family time”. I remember that season. I never had the extended family obligations, but time was filled with kid activities and date nights. And I have friends in all stages of that now – young married couples, friends who are dating, and parents of young kids. There are also family vacations and reunions and gatherings to consider. Even the occasional wedding.

And all of these things are understandable. But makes it challenging as a single person to figure out how to make plans on a Saturday night. I don’t get invited to the gatherings and parties because I am not family or don’t have a significant other to attend with me. I don’t think people think I would want to come alone to a gathering full of pairs...but I do enjoy people.

The older you get, the harder it is to make new friends. I go to church (alone) and sit alone and say hi to people around me and then go home. Everyone is friendly…but also in their own circles. I have joined things with the hopes to make new friends (and will keep trying) but find everyone is already so busy. As an introvert, I am not quite sure how to break in to existing friend groups and family dynamics. I keep trying…don’t get me wrong. But I fumble at it. It makes me tired. I give up for long stretches.

I have found my most rewarding friendships have come when I have taken giant relational risks and just put myself out there. But they also happened BECAUSE I was so available. And I took time to intentionally invest. So my goal is not to be busy. I don’t need busy.

So this is my conundrum. As I scroll through contacts and look around at any opportunity that I have in my life to build some new friends. I guess it never gets easier to make friends. And it is not something that is ever done. I just need to keep trying and keep taking risks. And try to find something fun to do on Saturday night…

Friday, May 20, 2016

Life is hard...let there be anthems

 Life is hard sometimes and full of pain. The famous quote from Princess Bride is not far off from reality and we all can relate.

Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, talks about the importance of having an anthem for those times when life is hard. When you are fighting in the arena and feel beaten down and like you just can’t get up one more time – it is important to remind yourself that you can do it. You can be brave and show up in life and take risks. I am taking a class from Brené online with a friend – and our homework many weeks ago was to come up with our anthem. The song that inspires us. A song to put on loudly that will pump you up and inspire you to keep going. She was adamant about it – use headphones, turn up the speakers...really know your song. Brené can be a little intense.

I did my homework…always the good little girl. I love music and have lots of random songs on my phone – so scrolled through the day before we were going to talk about our anthems. I found one that I felt pretty okay with. We talked about it – had a good discussion. And I forgot about it. I actually listened to my friend’s anthem a lot of times…but mine got forgotten (not untypical for me…we are working on self-care in Brené now but that is another post).

Recently, life got hard…as life does. Things happen that you don’t expect and you feel shoved off a cliff and spiral into despair. I got shoved and landed at the bottom of a pit that I didn’t feel like I could climb out of.

“Listen to your anthem,” my “oh, so not helpful” friend told me. “Be brave.”

I don’t do so well when people remind me to be healthy and remind me that I have the tools to help myself not wallow. I would prefer to just play the victim and curl up in my ball of sadness. I resonate with “Sadness” from Inside Out for a reason. Don’t you just want to let me lie here and you can pull me around by my foot?

I half-heartedly listened to my anthem once. Told my friend to shut up a few times (no joke). Whined a bit…cried a lot.

Then today I was driving around in my car at lunch listening to a random playlist on my Amazon Prime account. There are a million songs on there…not chosen carefully…just there to listen to if I need some variety. Today I hit shuffle. And this song came on.

And I have a new anthem.

This song said everything I feel. That life is hard and sometimes you just don’t want to keep going and you don’t want to take risks anymore…but you can rise up and be strong. In spite of the ache…in spite of the pain that doesn’t go away…it just dulls over time. I will continue to take the same risks and will continue to fall and continue to experience pain…and will rise up a thousand times and do it again.

I am listening to this song with my headphones on and the sound turned up real loud. Because Brené was right…turning it up real loud drowns out the voices in your head that tell you that you are not going to be okay. And this too shall pass.