It’s no secret that I’m an extrovert. I would much rather be with a group of people than by myself. I can’t even drive in my car without talking to someone on the phone. I think social situations are when I’m at my best. I have no problem with public speaking or being with people I don’t know very well, and I enjoy having my husband around me pretty much all the time.
There are some things I like to do by myself. Shopping is the main one. I like to get in, go where I want, buy what I want, and not have to worry about someone else’s thoughts or schedule. I also like to workout by myself most of the time. I like going to classes, not to the gym, to workout alone. I need someone (the instructor) to tell me what to do when I workout, but I don’t want to go with a group of friends. Sometimes I don’t mind having a girlfriend with me, but I also appreciate the time I have alone in a workout class to just be with my thoughts and sweat.
But, in general, I’m not good at being alone. I remember when I was a kid, my parents would be out of town on a lot of weekends for work, and while some kids would love the chance to be alone and stay up all night, I would ask as many friends as I could to come stay the night.
This has transferred into my present life–and has coupled with the anxiety that I have grown to have as well. My husband was out of the country in Japan and China for work a few months ago. It was miserable. For me, not him. The first few days were the worst. I went shopping, bought myself flowers and dark chocolate pretzels, and stayed with my parents. Not exactly the most mature set of things I could have done, but I knew it was going to be a rough start. As the week went on, I tried to embrace the loneliness. I had endless conversations with my dog, didn’t make the bed, wore my oldest clothes to sleep in, and ate lots of chocolate pretzels. The week got better, but it wasn’t easy.
Pair the loneliness with my anxiety and you have a bomb about to explode. I’m the queen of coming up with stories in my head that are…horrible. For example, I will convince myself that I left a candle on and the house is going to burn down…or that Ryan isn’t returning my texts/calls because he’s dead on the side of the road. It’s pretty awful and sometimes can be paralyzing to me.
The other downside of being an anxious extrovert is that I’m constantly worried that I have offended someone or said the wrong thing. I replay conversations over and over and over in my head just to be sure that I didn’t say the wrong thing. While I love surrounding myself with people and being as social as possible, the after effects are exhausting.
So, what have I done to combat this desire to want to be with people and this anxiety I feel when alone or after a social setting?
- I’ve tried to be alone more often–and while alone, I’ve resisted the urge to text or call anyone. Nowadays, it’s so easy to not feel alone when you’re diving deep into the social media traps. However, I’ve found that can make me feel worse than better. I’ve become more mindful and appreciate my time by myself in the little place that I get it.
- Tried meditation. This is really new to me. It all started with a yoga class. The instructor made us sit still and meditate for 3 min intervals, 3 times. Each time we focused on something different (our bodies, our breathing, our thoughts). This not only challenged me to be alone with my thoughts but also helped with my overall anxiety. Quieting your mind is really hard, but really powerful.
- Learn that I can’t control everything. There is a very good chance that my husband is in a meeting or has his phone on silent rather than in a horrific accident like I convince myself to believe.
- Continue to surround myself with positive people. Negativity attracts negativity. If I’m surrounding myself with people who lift me up, not only does it make my extroverted self happy, it also helps ease my worries afterwards. I’ve cut out some negativity in my life and it’s made a huge difference.
- Embraced myself. For so long I would think that maybe I was too outgoing or too outspoken…which is why much of my anxiety has appeared. Now, I’ve realized that it’s okay to be me. I know I’ll never be the girl to take a vacation by herself, and that’s okay. It’s okay if I say the wrong thing at the wrong time and it’s okay that I’d rather be with someone else than by myself. It’s also okay to be uncomfortable trying new things (spending more time alone) and it’s also okay if not every single person like me. I like me and so do the people that really matter in my life.
The lovely pictures are from the good people at Death to the Stock Photo.