This is what I did this weekend:
- I went on a hike on Friday afternoon after work.
- I read on the back porch.
- I worked on my writing. I ended up tearing out half of what I wrote, but it felt good to get back into writing.
- I went on a couple walks around the block.
At the end of the weekend I felt peaceful and fulfilled about it all. I do this sort of thing almost every weekend, but I always feel tense about it, like I should be doing something more sociable and exciting and by the end, I feel exhausted in the effort in the inner conflict of what I think I should be doing and what I actually want to do with my weekend. The difference, I think, is that I actually gave myself permission to do what I want and not feel guilty over not doing anything according to my more extroverted acquaintances.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of a little book by Susan Cain called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, but I finished reading it on Saturday and I have to say that I feel validated by the book. In the book, Cain talks about the Western world’s shift to having a big personality and essentially being more extroverted while disregarding the makeup of introverted people at the cost of their health and even the cost of creativity and faith in religious institutions.
A lot of what Cain has written makes complete sense to me. In my own life, I’ve always felt a certain sense of guilt from others. Why aren’t I going out on Friday night? You should get together with your friends more, you don’t get out very much. You’re so nice, but you’re so quiet. These and other sentiments have built up inside me until I was a ball of guilt that my enjoyments weren’t nearly as important as being as outgoing and sociable as possible.
And to me, that doesn’t make sense. Why should we all have the same personality? Why is it necessary for me to have to pretend I’m someone I’m not just to make someone else feel good and to stroke society’s ego?
When I look at my life, I feel like there’s a balance. When I’m at work, I’m able to see and talk to me that come in and when it’s the end of my shift, I come home and decompress by reading and then working on my creative art. And sometimes I go out and spend time with friends for a little while. That’s all I need in my life, to be honest.
I’m not here to try and make a point. Nor do I want to disregard what extroverted people have done in the world. I just want to see a balance in the world. I don’t want to feel guilt for not wanting to get out as much as other people, that my focus is in my art.
I probably just summarized everything that Cain had written, but I think there’s truth in it.