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Introverts need social connection too

When I think back to grade school I realize that I always thought of myself as an extravert. The truth is that even with my experiences of being bullied I really was just self-confident enough to step outside of my introvert natural state and speak up, reaching out for social connection and as a result, I appeared to be outgoing. I loved trying new things and meeting new people. But I also loved doing solo activities like reading.

Self Portrait, Reading, Book, Difference

Strike a balance

During my happiest times – I realize now – I had found a way to strike a balance between time connecting with other humans, and time alone to restore my batteries. I found connection with people exhilarating and – at the same time – energy draining. Yet too much time alone left me feeling disconnected and restless. It was not unusual to find me at school dances, or on-stage during theatre productions, or even fluttering from one group of friends to another. I was indeed a bit of a social butterfly. But I also could be found curled up with a good novel, writing poetry, or walking my dog.

Introverts need social connection too

There have been times in my adult life when I felt lonely. When I withdrew and turned inward and found I was beginning to feed an unhealthy mindset that sounded a lot like “friends? Who needs them?” Fortunately, something always happened to force me to look outside of my cocoon and acknowledge what I was missing out on, introverts need social connection too. In nearly every case, what I needed most was to reach out to at least one person.

Social connection for introverts

As my marriage began to fall apart for the final time, I found myself reaching out to a friend who I could connect with and focus my time and attention on something that had once brought me a lot of joy and helped me to ground myself – literally – in nature. Christina and I started running together. And when it came time to move on from my marriage, and physically move away from our home, and my friend – I could fall back on running to ground myself and at the same time continue to feel connected to Christina and my other running friends, even across the miles.

Introverts need social connection too

It wasn’t easy to walk away from my marriage, but during some of the toughest days I could lace up a pair of running shoes, get out on the trail and breath in the fresh air. And I would feel whole again. I came to appreciate those runs as a kind of therapy. In fact it also served as a mindfulness practise of sorts. And my friend and I could cheer one another from afar and still feel the support that we’d given each other while side by side in our early days of running together.

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