Tuesday, August 22, 2006


I was pleased and surprised by the response to my post on my reluctance to go out too much. Now I don't feel like such a freak for being a big homebody.

I know I'm a rather extreme introvert -- from the personality type definition (the I or E in the Myers-Briggs) rather than the common definition that equates it to shyness or being quiet. I draw my energy from alone time. When I'm out among people, as long as I have a good energy reserve, I can be bubbly and friendly and very, very talkative. But then I need some alone time to recharge from that before I can get out and about again.

For the most part, I've had more of a social life since I stopped working daily in an office (I telecommuted for two years with my last job before I went entirely freelance). I seem to have some kind of limit on the number of times I can stand to leave the house and the amount of time I can handle spending with people. When I was going to an office every day, it felt like I was getting out a lot because I was leaving the house daily, and I was around people a lot. I might go out to lunch with co-workers, or maybe get together with people after work for dinner or happy hour. But during much of my office career, I was really bad about crawling into a hole all weekend. There were times when the only time I opened the front door between the time I got home on Friday night and the time I left for work on Monday morning was to bring in the newspaper.

When I started telecommuting, I did start getting out and getting together with friends more often. Some of my friends had work schedules that weren't the typical 8-5, so my new schedule made it easier for us to get together. I also got my alone time during the day, so I had the energy to go out at night or on weekends. I was still getting out less than I had before because of the not going to an office thing -- which also meant no lunches with co-workers or happy hours -- but if you didn't count work as "getting out," I was probably getting out more, for the most part.

Now, I tend to go in waves. When I'm working on a book, I don't interact much with the real world. I really fall into book world. I may try to moderate that some, but it may just be part of the creative process. I also go through phases where my "work" takes me out and about a lot -- to conferences, conventions, booksignings, book festivals, and the like. After a few months of that kind of activity, I think I use up my energy reserves and need some unscheduled down time. These days, I seem to go out at least once on most weekends, in addition to church and choir practice. That's not exactly social butterfly, but it isn't hermit, either.

The exception to this pattern was when I was right out of college. I was involved in a church with a very active young singles group, and I got into a group of friends within that group, so most weekends there was at least one organized group activity and generally some kind of non-organized get-together with friends. But I think I overdosed on all that, and after a while, I did reach a point where I couldn't stand to go out. There were times when I'd be all dressed and ready to go, and I'd change my mind with my hand on the doorknob. Eventually, that group dissolved as everyone got married or moved away (for about a year, my social life was mostly going to weddings -- more than twelve a year for a while).

On the other hand, the more time I spend at home, the harder it can be to make myself leave. I seem to do best at making myself get out when there's some kind of obligation (and not necessarily in the negative sense of it being something I have to do that I don't want to do). If I've told someone I'll be there and if my absence would be noticed, it's a lot easier to go. The times I back out on doing something are usually more when I'd be by myself in a crowd and not sure I'd know anyone there. I'm not sure that even counts as "social."

Now that I've discovered all the OnDemand exercise programs, I may not sign up for an exercise class this fall at the community college. That wasn't really social interaction, and I wasn't really meeting new people, but it seemed to draw from my "account" of outside time, and it counted as a leaving the house trip, which then kept me from wanting to go out at other times.

When I get these books turned in and really kick in Project Get a Life, I hope to find new activities and interests to explore. Some may be more social and involve getting out and about, but some may simply be new interests for me to explore on my own. I know I should probably ration my going out times so that I can do the things I really want to do and am not wasting those times on things that aren't rewarding for me. I shall provide updates along the way. But first, I have these books to work on ...

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