Friday, September 05, 2014

Are You Getting Rough Around the Edges?


Jordan took this photo when I was a little rough around the edges
A few weeks ago I woke up and was so irritable I was banging stuff around on the counter top in the bathroom while I was getting ready for the day. Even the dogs were steering clear.

Yep, I have days like that. Just keepin' it real.
I am not a Pentecostal Mother Teresa.

My husband asked me what was wrong and I confessed that I was angry at the lack of solitude to recharge. I couldn't remember the last time aside from reading my Bible or praying that I had  any quiet time to refresh.

The previous day we had a few hours off and instead of standing up for my need for solitude, I followed Larry's suggestion to spend some time with friends. This wasn't his fault. I never spoke up and just went along with his suggestion without ever bringing up how I was feeling.

He couldn't fix what was wrong because he didn't even know what was wrong. 

 Extroverts vs. Introverts

A lot has been circulating the internet recently about the differences between introverts and extroverts. It's been long overdue. Most people don't have an understanding of what it really means to be one or the other.

Larry is an extrovert, and I'm an introvert.

Most people assume I'm an extrovert and even go so far as to correct me when I tell them I'm an introvert. It's kind of exasperating. I had no idea so many people were an expert on my life. I've not only taken countless assessments that confirm this but my Dad who raised me will tell anyone who asks that this is the case. And, my husband and kids will attest to the same.

People often mistakenly believe I'm an extrovert because I'm a networker. Always have been. I incessantly  reach out to people in the course of my work. A born leader, I also emerge as the natural leader of most teams I serve on, and speak in front of groups of people with ease.  A lot of people think only extroverts have these capabilities but the truth is the difference between in introvert/extrovert isn't whether you are shy or outgoing -- it's all about how you recharge.

I've always known the importance of reaching out to others, to be effective in my work.
But -- it takes every ounce of energy I have to do it.

Even though I'm a wordsmith, I can't even describe how depleted I feel after I've been with people for a few hours. After church, I have a kind of emotional sensor that goes off on the inside of me, pleading with me to get to solitude before a crash. And I love church, and I love people!

After some time alone, I am good to go again.

My husband, on the other hand, is energized by being with people.
The more alone-time he has, the more depleted he feels.
He has to get around people and interact to feel refreshed.

The day I broke two cardinal healthy relationship rules...

Without even discussing the matter weeks ago of what we would do with a few hours off, I just said yes to his request to spend some time with others.  The next morning, I woke up so rough around the edges. Larry started hiding the knives.

He asked me why I was so irritable for once he assumed it was not 'female problems' and when I told him he said, "Why didn't you speak up? We didn't have to spend time with anyone. We could have just stayed home."

The two rules I broke:

1) I assumed instead of asking.  (I assumed he would be mad if we didn't go out with friends. I was wrong.)
2) I stuffed instead of expressing.  (Rather than speak up on my behalf, I had stuffed my feelings down.)

What did I learn?

I discovered how unproductive and even harmful assuming and stuffing can be to a relationship. So, when Labor Day weekend rolled around, I handled things differently. I told my family that despite the fact that all five of us had off from work on Monday, I wasn't doing a thing. There would be no barbecue with friends or even going to the movies. The plan was to be in my pajamas all day long and not see the outside of the house.  They could do what they wanted to do without me but I would not be participating in a group activity.

It was amazing.
Nobody got angry. 
There was no push back.

This announcement was respected, and I was able to recharge.

What's the point here? 

Speak up.
Let people close to you know what you need.
Don't assume.
Don't stuff.

If you're rough around the edges, examine what needs to change so you don't have to be, anymore.



Photo Credit: Jordan Shrodes

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