I have a confession to make. I am an introvert at heart...
Being around people exhausts me. A lot. I need time to be by myself, to rest, to restore my soul, so that I can be around people again without feeling resentful and drained.
Summer is a time to reconnect with others, a time to see long time friends and family and we enjoyed having some family and friends visit us last week. I cooked, cleaned, drove, walked, entertained, and talked a lot. I loved every minute of it. But as is true for introverts, I was completely drained after our company left. I needed to be with no one else around: a true introverted need. So I decided that as a family we needed to take a break from company for a while so that I could recharge.
And then it happened. I felt that nagging “should”: I should be spending time with friends, after all, the summer is going by quickly! How selfish of me to want to be left alone! I have a whole list of people to call and get together with! I should be making play dates for my kids, I should be a better mom, more willing to forgo my own needs for the needs of my family. Do you see where this is going? I knew deep inside that ignoring my need for rest was going to come back to bite me. I had to pay attention to it if I wanted to be a nice person to be around. So, I did it: I said NO to more company (for a while at least) and felt incredibly guilty about it. After all, I should...and I should....
I thought that paying attention to my boundaries would make me feel happy and proud of myself--after all, I am acting like a mature person by acknowledging what I need, right? I often do feel proud and happy for keeping my boundaries, but not this time. All I felt was guilt and a sense of failure. I realized then, that paying attention to my needs doesn't always feel good—there are no fireworks or people to congratulate me for doing that. There may be no one to tell me what a wonderful and wise decision I just made. My shoulds will keep playing in my head nagging me to ignore my own needs and do what I should be doing. Do you ever feel that way—guilty for taking care of you? We all know how incredibly important it is to pay attention to our needs. The truth is, doing that is not always pretty and wonderful. And that's OK, because if we follow through and take care of us, in the end, we are better people for it: more open to God, to others, to what is coming next.
Are you able to recognize and take care of your needs, or do your shoulds get the better of you?
I know it is hard, but in the end, it is all worth it. As I renewed my soul by taking time off from company, I was able to be more patient and loving, and able to enjoy the company of friends once more. I want to encourage you to keep paying attention to your needs and not give up when it gets hard to take care of you. We are in this together. Fireworks don't happen every time we do the right thing, but that doesn't mean it is not right.