Just like in a cafe, we talk about everything. Nothing heavy. Just talk over a cup of coffee.

Friday, February 8, 2013


I walked into the crowded hotel room and immediately knew I was in trouble. It was Friday evening at the District 45 Toastmasters' conference. At least 50-75 people were jammed into the room that was serving as the hospitality suite. A table loaded down with fresh fruit trays, chips, and veggie platters narrowed the entry path to and from the room. People crowded around the small bar. Although the bed had been removed, sofas and chairs lining the walls took up a lot of floor space.

I stayed close to the friends who had gently coerced me into going with them to this informal social event. Teresa had said, "We're all tired after that long drive. But this will be fun. It will wake you up."

I wanted to believe her. Within minutes, however, the crush of people, the scent of perfumes and colognes, and the multitude of conversations put my mind into sensory overload. I had to escape.

I told my friends I was okay, but that I needed to go back to the room we were sharing. Once there I dropped on the bed and looked at the clock. I discovered I had lasted less than 20 minutes at the party.

Yet I was exhausted. My head ached and my heart pounded. I was close to having a panic-attack. Within a few minutes, however, I felt myself calming down. I pulled out some clothes for the next day and hummed as I ironed them.

I sat at the desk and wrote the "state of the area" report I had forgotten to prepare before leaving home. I was eating a handful of Wheat Thins crackers and reading a novel when I heard the door open.

"Oh my gosh," Teresa exclaimed rushing into the room. "You are SUCH an "I"!"

"Is it that obvious?" I laughed. I knew she was referring to one of the characteristics of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or personality assessment. The "I" stands for introvert--someone who finds energy by being alone and pulling into herself for reflection...someone who feels drained by crowds of people.

"I've never seen anyone just shrink like that," Teresa continued. She made a slurping noise and gestured with her hands to show someone pulling inside herself. "We walked into that room and you just... I don't know... you just shrunk."

I was comfortable and not offended by Teresa's assessment. In fact, it was rather amusing to me because in just a few moments time, she gained a greater understanding of what makes me tick.

But at one time I would have gone on the defensive at being called an introvert. I used to think that being an introvert was a bad thing. I thought it meant I didn't like people, or that I was antisocial. I thought extroverts, people who feel exhilarated when in a crowd and surrounded by activity, were the best people... the most fun. So for many years I tried to force myself to be a "people person." But I never had much luck with it. It felt phony. It was too exhausting!

Then I learned about the personality types. I learned about my personality and I learned what it means to be an introvert.

I was wrong to think that introverts don't like people. In fact, my whole understanding of what introverts and extroverts are was wrong!

These classifications have nothing to do with whether you like people or whether you are fun person to be around. Instead they represent the way you recharge your battery. Introverts need quiet time, alone time. They find their energy from within. Extroverts need activity, people, and external stimuli to get pumped up. They find their energy from outside sources.

Once I understood and accepted that my need for quiet time and personal space was vital to maintaining my energy level, I began to respect that time. I began to include it in my routine so that I could keep my energy level at its peak. Sometimes I can go for weeks without renewing it, but when I do, I find that I've drained so much energy with my constant movement, that I need longer to recharge my battery. At other times, I need short, frequent bursts to feel re-energized.

Whether you need quiet time or commotion, solitude or socialization, or internal or external forces to fuel your body and your spirit, tap into it often enough so that you can maintain the most efficient level of energy to complete both your daily tasks and your life purpose.

And the next time you try to convince a weary friend that she needs to settle down and take a bubble bath, or join you on a shopping spree, remember that just because something restores your spirits, does not mean it will restore hers. Trust her when she says, "No thanks. I'll be okay," and let her find her own way, just as you find yours.

Copyright © 2005 Donna Doyon 
Donna Doyon, Activities Coordinator for Your Virtual Retreat is the author of GLOW: Renew Your Spirit & Release Your Inner Beauty. She offers information, inspiration and encouragement to people who want to say goodbye to self defeating attitudes and behaviors and hello to greater success, healthier relationships and more joyful living.

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