alone time

January 9, 2015

Throughout my adult life, I’ve always been an ESFJ on the Meyers-Briggs personality inventory.  E stands for extrovert!  Lalalaaaa, I love people!

Until now.

Just kidding.  I still think think the characterization is accurate.  But lately I am feeling a pull towards creating more of my own space.  I think it is because there is just so little solitude and/or down time in my life the way it is currently.  My job is basically a serious of intimate meetings all day long, and I have to be very much “on”.   Having others share so much of themselves with me is definitely a privilege, but it is also emotionally draining.  And then I drive home (I do enjoy the commute these days!) and home life is just a little crazy at our current juncture.  In some ways, it’s nice to feel so needed.

In others, I’m needed out.

Running helps — it’s time alone, in the quiet, often outside — definitely a respite, even if it’s at 5am.  Writing or reading does too.  Social media most certainly does not, and yet it’s a common escape route for me (hmmm).

I’m not sure what the answer to this — I have no plans to change my very social job, and I’m unlikely to get a night off from A&C anytime soon.  I’ve considered a weekly yoga class out of the house in the evenings, but it’s hard for me to justify the expense (and fine, there’s a small guilt factor there too as I am a full-time working parent away from the home a lot already).

Does anyone else struggle with this — even fellow extroverts?  Solutions?  Thoughts?


Another Insta-pic — I decided what to do with the yearly section of my Hobonichi!  

tracking my daily reading goal


  • Reply Siobhan March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    oh my gosh – i have SO been experiencing this for the last year or so.. feeling needed by everyone and always keeping up a cheerful attitude with attitudes started to become exhausting. reading every night has helped. i also try to schedule in brief alone time during work. a 15 minute walk to get coffee. a 20 minute pause on a bench outside to read something (without my phone or any social media). it is helping. also, scheduling a lot, lot less on weekends. as in – NOTHING. that has been great. when shia sleeps i give ciaran the ipad for an hour and then just sit and read or nap. (i know, the ipad isn’t the greatest, but he only watches a nature show. and he can recite insane facts about wild animals. and he won’t call fishing – fishing. he calls it "capturing" a fish, because it really belongs in the wild…)

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      yes, you totally get it. of course 🙂 I think your strategies sounds perfect. I need to escape for lunch more! I often work until 12:50 and then have not that much time to heat up food, eat it, and go back to work!

      i think your 1 hr of ‘quiet time’ with the iPad is completely reasonable! can’t wait to hopefully SEE you soon . . do you know dates yet!?!?

  • Reply Erica S March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I have been meaning to comment on your blog for litereally MONTHS , but I always read blogs on my phone during my bus commute. We should do an email update!
    I can really relate to this – I am also an extrovert (I’m ESTJ on the Meyers Briggs spectrum). And, being in the lab, I have to be "on" for much of the day to be able to participate in scientific conversations, lab meetings, talk about experiments and data, etc. When I run, I’m either listening to podcasts (outside) or catching up on a tv show (via treadmill and iPad), so it doesn’t offer a lot of solitude either. I try to have one of my runs each week "unplugged" but even that is difficult. My commute isn’t very good for this either, as i have 15 minutes on a very crowded bus, then a 10-15 minute drive to day care, and then picking up a toddler is rarely easy (and I get dragged into conversations with the various teachers). When I get home, I just want a few minutes of silence, but Griffin is grumbly and Dan, who has been working from home all day, is craving human interaction!

    The way I work around this is to try and have some solitude at lunch time at work, whether it’s taking my lunch outside in the summer or leaving my lab and going to a conference room to eat. It’s my only real "alone" time. Dan and I have also started having one evening a week where we read instead of play games or watch TV, and that has been a nice way to have some quiet as well.

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

      YESSSSSSSSS email me! Or I will email you 🙂 Funny about ESTJ because that was my MB growing up but then after college it shifted to ESFJ. Probably why you a much better scientist. Ha!!

      That’s a good idea about an unplugged run – or just music! I should try going back to that sometimes instead of podcasts all the time (there are just so many I like!).

      TOTALLY want to instate a reading night at our house. I love the idea of making that a family tradition someday too . ..

  • Reply Elizabeth March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I also have been meaning to comment on your blog for months (years?) I’m a big fan! Love reading about the day to day stuff and the big picture.
    And here you hit the nail on the head. I was just talking to a friend about this a few days ago. After always being very extroverted and barely needing any alone time, I’ve noticed that over the last couple years I really need it. I’m a primary care provider in a healthcare for the homeless setting which I also love but it can be really emotionally draining… so that at the end of the day it seems hard to have space to listen to one more story!
    I’m not sure I have any magical solutions, but the alone reading time sounds like a great start. For the yoga – I think it might be worth it if that’s what you need. I hope you can find something that works!

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I’ve always been pretty 50/50 I/E on the Myers Briggs scale, so a little different from you, but I think that regardless of I/E status, everyone has their own individual ratio of "on" vs. "alone" time that they need, and if life does not meet that balance, it feels tiring. I’m actually craving a little MORE person time these days, since I spend many of my work days all alone in my office and we don’t do a lot of socializing on the weekends. Time with little kids is not alone nor is it exactly "social" in the fulfilling way, so I’m not sure how it counts! On the other hand, on busier weekends or when I’m on call and have to be "on" all day, I need to try to sneak some alone time in. Running without any headphones is always a good one, or I’ll go myself to run an errand and get a nice walk in. I like the idea of lunch outside or somewhere peaceful—when I worked in the lab, and was constantly around people, I would sometimes sneak away and eat in an empty conference room just to get 20-30 minutes of quiet.
    I’m wondering why you can’t justify the expense of the yoga class? I would firmly budget that into the "health/fitness" category which I do NOT skimp on! If you think you’ll actually go, and it would be beneficial to your physical/mental health, I would argue you should prioritize that! (i.e. how much could it cost? the price of a couple of outfits or dinners out?) I do get not wanting to take an evening to yourself, away from the kids, though.

  • Reply Jenn March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I’m an ESFJ too! And a teacher of small children, so I know what you mean. Sometimes I just want to come home and crawl into bed and not talk to anyone…maybe watch Netflix with a glass of wine. I think it’s totally natural and definitely okay to take more "me" time, because it means that the time you do give to your husband/children will be more meaningful – you’ll be truly present instead of feeling stretched in a million directions! At the very least, you can always try it for a month or two and then cancel it if it’s not doing much for you/your family.

  • Reply Laura Vanderkam March 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

    I’m apparently an INTJ, so already an introvert. That’s one reason I work by myself, and am happier doing that than being in a newsroom. If I had to deal with other people all day and my children at night I’d go crazy. As it is, when things are going well, I give myself one night "off" per week. I go work on projects I enjoy in the library, and then take myself out for sushi. I’ve seen a lot of couples have an arrangement where each parent gets one night "off" per week to do something (girls’ night, softball team, whatever). Since, like you, I can’t guarantee that my husband will be available, I hire a sitter. If someone wants to feel guilty about this, it should be the parent who’s gone multiple nights per week, not the one who’s gone one.

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