A few weeks ago I heard a thunk against the kitchen window, and my heart sank. I knew what that sound meant – a bird had flown into the window. I stepped outside and sure enough, there was a bird lying motionless on the deck. There’s not really much you can do in this situation, other than to keep the bird safe and wait. So we kept Gus inside and checked on the bird every fifteen minutes.
At first he was out cold. The next time I checked he hadn’t moved, but his eyes were open. A few minutes later he was sitting up, dazed and confused. Further observation found him cautiously checking out his body. (Am I still in one piece?) And then he was gone.
I feel a bit like the bird right now, in the dazed and confused phase. While I haven’t run head first into anything, life has bonked me around a bit. The upside is that life is throwing lots of good stuff at me. The downside is that my first inclination is to power through, neither enjoying the moment or giving myself time to pause. As I learn more about myself and my personality type (ISFJ), I know that I need time to rest and reset after major events. Major events, for me, are things like holidays, big social gatherings, family vacations, schedule changes, and visitors. Since late November, all of those things have happened on a near weekly basis (some of them multiple times).
This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy having visitors, organizing events or spending time with family and friends. I enjoy them immensely, and I would be so sad not to have these interactions in my life. But where some people (such as my extroverted husband) are energized by going, doing and seeing, these things suck the energy out of me. If I don’t take the time to rest and refocus, then things get ugly. Sometimes it makes me physically ill, but it’s more likely I’ll get cranky and snappish with the people I live with.
I used to get frustrated with myself – why couldn’t I handle these kinds of things with the grace and ease everyone else does? Why do I find myself in a fog after Christmas break? Why can’t I get it together? Now I know that it’s just who I am. I can make myself (and everyone around me) miserable, or I can be patient and take care of myself like my little bird friend. He’s a good reminder that when life hits us on the head, we shouldn’t be too quick to move on. Instead, we should give ourselves time to shake it off, rest and refocus.
What does self-care for the dazed and confused introvert look like? Well, it looks like going back to bed after the kids are on the bus. It looks like making space on the calendar for the next day or two with no planned activities. It looks like choosing quiet over sound. It looks like extra cups of tea and a book that doesn’t make me think too much. It looks like baking cookies or eating ice cream straight out of the container. It looks like watching the birds or petting the dog. It looks like going to bed at least an hour before you think you’re supposed to.
I’ve learned that if I’m willing to give the time, permission and space to take care of myself after something that depletes me, I can bounce back within a day or even a few hours. But if I ignore it and tell myself to quit being so lazy/silly/crazy/selfish (feel free to insert all the lies we tell ourselves)? Then I’m dazed, confused, resentful and more than likely awful to live with for days.
I’m coming off a fantastically fun event that I planned for weeks, the NFL Combine Tweetup. On Sunday I leave for a 4 day trip to New York City. Spring Break is around the corner, and soon after we’ll take our big family trip. I see those things and know that in order to enjoy them, I’ll need to give myself some space to recharge. I know that now, and as a result I think I enjoy myself in the moment more than ever.
I have a sneaking suspicion that there are more than a few of you out there that know exactly what I’m talking about. Like me, you’d never guess it from the outside. We’re exceedingly cheerful and pleasant and readily at your service. I wouldn’t change this about myself for the world, and I hope you won’t, either. Just remember that you can’t give of yourself if you’ve depleted everything that’s wonderful inside. Taking care of your introverted self isn’t just for the birds, and there’s nothing bird-brained about it.
How do you rest and recharge yourself after big events, or prepare yourself for big things on the horizon?