For the overwhelming majority of my life, I've always classified myself as an extrovert. After all, I loved being around people. I thrived as a social butterfly, as I had friends from all the different areas of my life (skating, school, etc) I kept up with through all the moving around I did as a kid. From there, I went to NYU, a large school, then joined a sorority and became president of the entire Greek council. Socializing was largely what I did everyday and thrived upon.
Fast-forward to today after all my career and life transition, and I've come to realize that I actually identify much more as an introvert.
This came as a shock to me when first considering the possibility, and the idea was met with much resistance. I had always considered introverts to be anti-social, awkward, and the type of people that stood on the sidelines at gatherings.
I'm an Introvert now? What? But I love people!
I absolutely love my job. I partially chose it for the fact that I get to interact with people all day and I am most definitely a people person. But as all trainers can tell you, it is not only a physically challenging job, it can also be emotionally draining. Imagine caring about and for the well-being of nearly 20 people at a time. Empathizing with their personal and physical struggles and triumphs is something I feel extremely privileged to be a part of, but it is undeniably draining.
This exhausted feeling kept plaguing me: if I was an extrovert and loved being surrounded by people, why did I feel like shutting myself off at the end of the day and had zero mental energy or capacity to go see friends and socialize?
I then read a character description that described introverts as "those who feel rejuvenated and re-energized through time alone." That resonated with me immediately, and I knew then that I was a true introvert.
Suddenly, it all made sense.
All the activities that make me feel centered and re-balanced are things I consider "me" time: working out, going on a run outdoors with a great playlist, meditation, writing, going on a photo-taking stroll, curling up to read a book, watching the sun set, cooking and baking; these all help me re-calibrate my mental energy.
It's not that these are things I turn to only when I need to blow off steam- it's just refilling the gas tank when I run empty. Needing to do these things is not about an escape from anything negative.
Realizing how you best gather inspiration, motivation, and re-energize yourself is immensely helpful- and NECESSARY.
I used to feel incredibly guilty about missing social gatherings or skipping out on bits of work to do these "me time" activities, but have finally begun to embrace that it is a necessity that allows me to be able to give a fuller, better version of myself to those around me.
Especially so when your life is particularly stressful or just plain busy. More than ever, I now know that it is not just important, but completely crucial to my well-being and success to take time to myself to recharge.
Embrace and respect what it is that feeds your soul.
Life is tough enough and can throw us for some loops, but by learning how to manage your mental health is your key to being able to maneuver around those hurdles.