On Becoming an Introvert (Or Ode to my Husband)

Today my meetings ended early and I had the whole afternoon to spend at home alone.  A foreign joy swept over me and I thought to myself, “this must be what introverts talk about.”  

While this may be a “duh” statement to you, it is a new phenomenon to me. The first time I took the Myers-Briggs test, I was 9 to 1 extroverted. My normal thought at an open afternoon is, “Who can I connect with?  Who needs a call or has time to grab coffee and catch up?” But things have been different lately.  Maybe it’s because my work is slowing down and I have more time on my hands.  Maybe it’s because nesting is a real phenomenon for pregnant women.  Maybe I’m maturing and balancing out. Whatever it is, I find myself giddy when I get to be in my house and quiet.

As I anticipate the birth of my first child my longing to slow down increases. The drive to keep it all going is quieted as “it all” doesn’t seem so important right now.  While this season is a strange new feeling for me, I am learning to embrace it. I enjoy writing with my feet up.  I like cleaning my kitchen. It gives me joy to have my to-do list populated with house projects instead of community projects right now. 

Earlier this week I had a morning at home.  There were things I wanted to get done but nothing pressing.  One of my former students texted to say she was in town from DC for one day and she’d like to stop by.  How wonderful it was to say, “Yes! come over.”  I didn’t resent her for her lack of planning.  I wasn’t anxious during our visit, wondering how I could rearrange my day.  I was delighted to have time with her and to be calmly present with her. As we said good-bye I found myself in awe of the freedom margin gives. 

I thought of the ongoing admonishment of my husband to leave space for fun things to pop up. I get so bent on planning fun, of taking advantage of every waking minute.  And yet I’m seeing now what he means.  If you have margin outside of your plans, there is room for important things to happen like fun, connecting with others, rest, and writing down your thoughts.  There is space to chat with a neighbor or stop and care for someone else when my minute to minute agenda is not driving me. 

Some times I fear that giving myself margin will cause me to lose my edge. I am proud of how I can get sh#@ done! My best friend and I laugh about the days we were training for a marathon and would run 16 miles before work, put in a full day at the office, and host teenagers at our home in the evening.  Before bed we would lament about how little we had accomplished that day. 

The years, therapy, and more realistic expectations have helped me to enjoy each day for what is accomplished and for the unplanned moments along the way. And people close to me have indicated that perhaps the me without an edge is preferable. 

Right now I can see the beauty of living with margin and want to hang on to it while it lasts.  Maybe this is the edge. Maybe the strength comes not in the driving to accomplish but in the discipline of making margin to care for myself and others.  Maybe our baby will fit in better to our lives as I make room for him and leave margin for him to add what he will to our family.  Maybe this lesson isn’t just for a short season, but meant for an abundant life.