Being an Extrovert, Learning to be Introverted

I’ve been jokingly saying I’m an extrovert living the introvert’s dream up here in Eureka, so far. Working (mostly) from home and knowing exactly zero people outside my house, has been an eye opener to remind me I need to go to the people. Without my people time, I often find myself wondering why I’m in such a grumpy mood.

I remembered I wrote something about this a few months ago. I write a lot and often don’t share. So here’s a piece of story time from my archives:

I’m an extrovert. I love being around people. I feel energized from days I get to spend with someone new. Something I’ve found myself saying these past couple years is I’m an extrovert who had to learn to act more of an introvert.

At the peak of my shit-hit-the-fan-and-I-need-to-take-my-mental-health-seriously moments, I quickly learned that I couldn’t handle ANY stimuli. I could only fake it until I made it for so long. I basically pulled myself into my own cave while kicking and screaming. I WANT to be around people. I love to be active in my communities. I almost didn’t know how to truly heal alone.

Alone time was a kick in the ass of an awakening. I moved to a quiet lemon grove “community” property full of a handful of VERY introverted people who wished for nothing more than a very quiet life. They loved doing their routine mostly solo, meditating, and doing their work in peace.

I instantly knew this place would be good for me, even though I felt like an outlier. Even in my most retreated times, I felt like the “loudest” one there, energetically. This helped me learn how to slow down and tone down more than I could have ever taught myself.

It was here where I learned how to really hold myself accountable to my work. My mental work, emotional work, and even my freelance work. I made routine and I stuck with it for fear of having yet another uncontrollable emotional breakdown. I meditated more than ever. I wrote my heart out. I wandered around the rows of trees just to observe the nature in silence. Hudson and I were going on hikes as often as my body felt it was strong enough to.

This was a time in my life where I couldn’t handle big noise or bright lights or visual concentration without feeling like I was going to have a panic attack. When I wasn’t at the lemon grove, I was often taking breaks from the outside world in my van, buried under the blankets with an eye mask on so I could retreat back to that quiet place of stillness where I was learning to feel in control. At first, I was SO judgemental of myself in those moments in my van cave. I felt like I was losing my identity. I wanted to be in THERE: at that climbing gym, in that workshop, or at that party. That’s what past me would have done. And I wanted my old life back so badly.

I was thinking about how stuck in those time I felt this time last year. I laid in my van bed this weekend remembering feeling safe with my eye mask and van window blinds closed. I watched a movie about a young woman who felt trapped inside her brain. And I cried like a baby. I identified with that so much. And I’m so happy I’ve been able to come this far. It’s not perfect, and I don’t know if there will ever be a day I can say I made it to “the other side”, but it is nice seeing the progress of baby steps all added together