The murmuring conversations of fishermen chatting amongst themselves, couples leisurely strolling hand in hand in the sand was the backdrop on a full moon night sitting at the ocean’s edge. The white light reflected from the moon onto the ocean created a pathway across the water to the stars. The soft lullaby of the waves gently caressing the shore soothed my introvert soul. I was alone and loving it.
I was on vacation with my husband and Mom this spring and on this trip my mom remarked how much I am like her. In some ways I am, and yet in other ways I’m an introvert like my dad.
When I was a child, I used to stand on the basement steps looking down at my dad at his desk. He’d look up at me over his glasses from this small corner he created for himself; his version of a modern day man cave. My dad would retreat here when he needed space and time alone from all the busyness of 3 children in a small house. I didn’t know that then, but I do now. I went on to explain to my mom that my inner energy doesn’t thrive on constant conversation, loud music, or being on the go constantly. Especially on vacation.
It took me a very long time and a Myers-Briggs test (INFP) at my workplace for me to begin to understand myself better; what drains me and what fills me up. Getting those results offered me freedom from feeling like I wasn’t doing something right, or the way that everyone else was. The author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain writes: “most people who have grown up introverted in this very extroverted culture of ours have had painful experiences of feeling like they are out of step with what’s expected of them.”
When I was in college I was conflicted because I didn’t love being in big groups in the cafeteria or attending jammed packed house keg parties like so many other people did. I questioned myself because I craved one to one friendships, shared common interests, and some alone time.
When I’m feeling overloaded with what I call “too much incoming information”, I have to take a break or I feel as if I’m, going to break. I begin to feel edgy, my responses become short, and I crave the silence. If I allow this to go on too long I begin to experience pain in my body, old injuries flare up or I might get a headache from clenching my jaw. I start snacking on foods I can’t tolerate well – attempting to self soothe. These are all ways my soul is attempting to get my attention and guide me to take care of myself and return to center.
“Solitude matters, and for some, it’s the air they breathe.” Susan Cain
When overstimulation and incoming information has the power, it’s time to return to center and take your power back.
The beauty in knowing yourself deeply is that you can navigate your daily life, relationships and yes, vacations by taking most excellent care of yourself.
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or fall somewhere in between, we all require time to recharge our inner batteries.
Here are some ways to care for your introvert self on vacation:
Know your limits
Before you go on vacation, know how much planned activity there will be so you can… plan your unplanned activity ie: introvert time!
Know your numbing actions
If you forget to plan introvert activity, pay attention to:
- Your body – for tensing up, hurting or craving unhealthy foods or drink.
- Your emotions – feeling overwhelmed, alone, angry, terse, sad.
Claim time for yourself
Explain to others you’re traveling with that you need some time to recharge and that it’s nothing personal. If they take it personally anyway, it’s not yours to fix.
Fill yourself back up by taking a nap, pop those earbuds in and listen to music or a podcast, read, or find your favorite activity. If have a car available I enjoy heading to a store and meander, or if walking, window shop, people watch, stopping at a non chain coffee shop.
Relish in the quiet without guilt.
The quiet is where you can reclaim yourself, who you are, and your energy. Guilt can be kicked to the curb here as you won’t be your best self if you’re drained.
Remember, you’ll bring a happier you back to the group or your partner when you take care of your introvert self.