|Nicole J. Butler on the set of |
The CW Networks' "Hart of Dixie"!
If you've read this blog for awhile, you have probably gathered that I am the latter. I require peace and quiet time almost as much as I need air. Almost. I can't hear my own inner voice in the midst of a crowd, and I certainly can't hear the characters that live in my head. When I do something social, I need quite a bit of recovery time. When I'm at home and the phone rings, I think "oh no" even before I know who it is, because it's an interruption that seems to be demanding my immediate attention - no matter what I'm doing. And if I don't answer, I either have to find time to return the call at a later time or piss off someone I genuinely like by not responding at all unless someone really needs me.* Some days I find myself with 6 or more calls to return - that makes me want to curl up in bed with the covers over my head. On top of that, I needz my sleepz! If I don't sleep enough, I can't think clearly, and I get pretty testy. Since I have a career that requires me to always be "on-call," and a schedule that changes at a moment's notice, PLUS I'm a night-owl, this is always a difficult balancing act.
I've tried all sorts of things: office hours (didn't work - see "on-call"), accountability partners (takes more time than it saves, plus I don't need somebody on my back if I decide to zag instead of zigging), going to bed earlier/ getting up earlier (my mind is sharpest btw 8PM & 2AM)... all sorts of things.
Lately, though - I've been listening to my gut, and I've discovered what I'm sure many people already knew:
- There are few phone calls that can't wait an hour for a response. Putting my phone in the locker while I'm at the gym for an hour is a good way to clear my head. I mostly go at night, so there's less of a chance of me missing a call from my reps. When do I work out in the daytime, I just check my phone at about the 30 minute mark when putting my weight gloves in the locker, and taking out a book for the treadmill. Guess what? I've never missed anything that couldn't wait 30 minutes.
- That doing something purely creative without considering the business value of it soothes me. My mother is a creative-type, and when I was growing up, she was always learning something new. There was always some sort of project going at our house: cake decorating, making clay statues, sewing, painting, rehabbing furniture, hair-braiding, colored sand art... you name it. I'm the same way, but at some point I started feeling like everything I did had to have a business value. Not true. It just has to have personal value. If oil painting, gardening, sewing, origami, coding, and making doo-dads de-stresses me and keeps me out of therapy - that's enough. If I make money from it, that's incidental. For me, there's such joy in creating, and letting go of the outcome.
- I can participate in social media when and how I want to. I just participate in ways that work for me: I have a Facebook Page instead of a personal profile. There are limitations to doing it this way, but I'm willing to deal with them. Also, I do not have to reach every corner of the social media universe. I just have to do what I do, and the people who find value in what I do will find me, just as I've sought out or stumbled upon people whose work I find to be of value to me. That's how I'm gonna roll.
Maybe this will help a fellow introvert or two. There are a lot of us who are struggling to keep up with a world that places a higher value on extroversion. I see y'all, and stand in (quiet) solidarity.
*I'm still making peace with this. If I were talking about people that I didn't like, this wouldn't bother me. I don't much deal with people that I don't like, so that isn't the issue. I'm talking about people that I do like and even LOVE. It's rude and dismissive not to call people back, but I can't talk on the phone for 2 hours everyday. Like "I. Just. Can. Not." (A little voice in my head is screaming at the thought of it.) Even my mom texts me 95% of the time, unless something is urgent.