17 May 2012

So Many Friends, So Little Time

There's a lot of press being given right now to what it means to be an introvert and what it means to be an extrovert. The currently accepted bottom line seems to be that if you gain energy by being around people, you're an extrovert and if being around people sucks the energy out of you, you're an introvert.

By that definition, I'm an extrovert. No, make that a capital-e Extrovert. Or even an all-caps EXTROVERT. I love to be around people. I would almost always rather be with someone than be alone. I might be doing something solitary--reading, frittering away my time on Facebook, folding laundry, you name it--but I'd rather do that solitary thing with someone else in the same room. I might not even be in the mood to talk or interact in any way, but no matter what I'm doing, I find the presence of another human immensely comforting and affirming. Either I'm an extrovert or I have some serious self-esteem issues. I'm going with extrovert.

I'm also an optimist, and I can generally find something to like and appreciate about any given situation or person. I enjoy the company of a wide variety of people and I am blessed to have a lot of friends. I like to do social things with those friends because I like to be around people because I'm an extrovert.

On top of all that, I have two extremely verbal children, one of whom is undoubtedly an extrovert like me and one of whom might be an introvert and might be an extrovert but who is adaptable to the presence of others out of sheer necessity given the extroversion of his sister and mom.

Plus I have a job at which I spend 8.5 hours a day once you count commuting. Which seems neither here nor there in this discussion until I present to you this equation of words and ideas:

extrovert + optimist + lots of friends + 2 kids + job = social time black hole

By this I do not mean that we don't spend enough time being social. Quite the opposite. We have so much social time that we have no unsocial time. Our weekends are packed to the gills almost all the time. There are playdates and brunches and dinners. There are outings and gatherings and parties. Occasionally, we have a random, unscheduled day and we talk like we're just going to do nothing, although we usually end up doing an impromptu social event because that's what we all crave. Even if we don't get together with other people, there are still three of us hanging out together; we're our own little social event.

I'm not complaining about this, because, hello, I'm an extrovert and I truly enjoy it. What's starting to eat at me, though, is how to manage it. I am terrible at saying no to social events because I want to do them all, hence our packed schedule. But Maddie, Riley, and I don't get a lot of time for just the three of us because we're often doing things with other people, and when we do get that family time, we all really value it and wish we had more of it. We don't see my extended family as much as I'd like. There are certain friends I don't see as regularly as I'd like too because we're so busy with so many friends that we don't see anyone all that frequently. I've been awful at maintaining my Boston friendships because I'm so busy with what's right in front of me.

And now there's this Significant Person in my life, so that's a whole other priority for both me personally and me and the kids as a family.

I don't know how to do it. It's the world's biggest embarrassment of riches to have so many people to love in one's life that it's hard to see them all. It feels icky to me to start prioritizing who I spend time with. Kids, Significant Person, extended family . . . OK, there's the first tier. But then what? Then what do I do? (Rhetorical question, although if anyone has ideas on this, I'm happy to hear them.)

This is why I haven't been blogging much. See what's on my mind these days? Oh, gosh, my life is hard I have SO MANY FRIENDS. The truth is, I'm bursting with the goodness of it all. I just want to share the goodness with everyone. Feel the love!


Mary said...

You have find some good resources here:

CV said...

I recommend carving out a family-date, say nice or twice a month. A day you recognize ahead of time, with the twins, as a day for the three of you to spend together without any intention of joining up with friends. I'd say that's top-tier priority. Then you have to commit to not canceling it or rescheduling to accommodate any other invitation that may come up for that day.

Once you get that part set, look hard at the calendar and fill in spaces for yor other priority peeps.

Then you just have to keep your FOMS in check. I suffer from it, too, so I sympathize. (Fear Of Missing Something).

Just Me said...

I'm an introvert, and NEED my alone time desperately even though I thrive on contact with others as long as I have that alone time. So I find difficulty balancing it all too, but like you I often feel overwhelmed with the goodness of it all.

It's not a bad place to be, I find.

BiancaW said...

I am just relieved to hear that I am not the only person in the world that hates missing out, therefore cannot decline and invite, ever! It drives my husband insane. We feel like we need a weekend after our weekend and I feel bad that I have not given the children time to rest over the weekend, but, seriously, there are friends to see, and BBQ's to attend.......

Terri said...

I have missed you (and your posts)! Your blog is, by far, one of my favorite -- despite being only a lurker most of the time.

I can't say that I have all the friends that you have, but I still find that sometimes I neglect certain groups of friends due to a lack of time, and as you have said, prioritizing. Until I had a significant in my life I managed, but now I have so little free time (and my daughter is grown), that I feel guilty regardless of my choice of who to spend that free time with.

Finally, I have to comment on the introvert-extrovert issue. I am absolutely an introvert, but I love to be around people. I lived in NYC, which most people would say would be absolutely awful for an introvert, but it was perfect -- I LOVE to be around people, I just don't always want to interact; too much interacting with others exhaustes me. Just my opinion.

Please ignore grammar errors, I'm typing fast because I should be working and not reading blogs! But, I so glad you are back!

RobinM said...

I'm a long time reader, but I've never left a comment. There's another blogger that I wanted to tell you about. She is a young mother to 2 beautiful boys and she just lost her husband in a car accident. There are a number of similarities between you both so I thought I might share her blog address with you:


I have gained a lot of strength and perspective from your words and I thought she might too.