Intro- and Extroverted Batteries

battery levels
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In September my social circle expanded quite a lot. During this month I found myself with more energy than before, but I was also more exhausted. To sum everything up I moved from one apartment into a student corridor (shared with 6 other people) and I started studying instead of just working on my own. It’s quite obvious that my social circle expanded due to those two things, but I’ve also taken more initiative talking to people and doing stuff 🙂 To my thoughts…

As mentioned I’ve noticed that I’ve had more energy in September and that I get energy from being social even though I define myself as introverted. I think this is because I, and maybe everyone, has two “batteries” one introverted and one extroverted. To be at my optimal level these should both be fully charged, but I’m not really sure when my batteries are low. Some days I’m really antisocial, but what I’ve found is that when I force myself to go out I often, but not always, get a lot of energy from hanging around awesome people—generally this is everyone in my vicinity. On some days, however, I just want to go home and play games, think, or be productive alone. I’ve never thought about it before, but I have a hard time knowing beforehand if I will get energy or if I just want to be alone. It might actually have something to do with expectations and if they are aligned with the reality or if the expectations are better than the reality. Sort of like when you go to a movie, if you don’t have any high expectations for it and it’s awesome you feel psyched; if it doesn’t meet your expectations (while watching), however, you might want to go home. Am I on to something?

I feel like I’m more introverted, although I’m less sure now since I usually get energy from being social most of the time. After checking out Wikipedia I found something called ‘ambivert’ which is a person that is “moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction, but also relishes time alone, away from a crowd”¹. I feel that I’m more than moderately comfortable with groups, but that’s just a feeling. I’m probably less that average comfortable with groups… I usually don’t talk in groups. I’m not shy and I don’t fear interaction, except with girls sometimes, although it’s a lot less lately 🙂 I’m easily overwhelmed by too much stimuli and usually can only focus on one thing at the time; although if there’s more than one conversation going on I have a hard time following one of them—I guess this is being overwhelmed. At the same time I’d say I work well in groups, I’m usually enthusiastic and as mentioned I gain energy being around various people and gatherings.

Back to the battery theory. I think that I require some alone time every day or at least every other day. I can solve this by being alone when I’m around people. For example when I was on a table top convention this summer I went outside and listened to an audio-book for some time. Partly because I didn’t have the energy to engage in conversations with new people and partly because I lacked alone time. The rest of the day I got to be social and recharged my extroverted battery; i.e. until the night, then I was quite exhausted from all interactions that I needed to go to bed a bit early. This is also when I feel like I’m most antisocial, after an entire day around (new) people. Most of the time I leave a group it’s because I’m lacking alone time or if I don’t feel like I belong with the group I can go away to recharge myself as this takes rather than recharges energy.

I feel like I’ve lost the thread. Where am I going with this? I’d want to know when my extroverted battery is empty as this is really the only battery I’m having a hard time knowing when it’s empty and what to do about it. What do I feel when I have low extroverted energy?

  • I want to meet people but don’t feel like I have the energy to contact anyone.
  • I wonder why no one is contacting me.
  • I feel alone.
  • I picture myself meeting people.
  • I’m bored.

I guess I’m low on social energy at the moment as I’m feeling most of these things now. What actions can I take and thus what habits can I form from these actions? As I have trouble taking action and contacting people already I have to change something or give myself some incentive for contacting people. The best incentive is probably that I’m allowed to buy or eat ice cream only after I’ve contacted someone. I like taking actions that are small and simple and then expanding those actions to include more and more. Sort of like you don’t start lifting 200kg weighs, but start slow and build up from there. Those habits/actions have highest success rate for me. At the same time I want to challenge myself; I could just message people on Facebook and start talking, but I want real life communication. I could ask people if they want to meet over Facebook, but I could also call or knock on their door (if they’re my neighbor). *thinking why I don’t want to go and knock on someone’s door* I can see two problems, one is that I don’t want to disturb the person. The second might be being rejected, i.e. if the person want to do something else. One part of me want to go all out, but if I’m not taking contact with people at the moment I know that I shouldn’t start with the heavy weights, I should take the easy path and continually make it harder; that’s the long term solution for me.

It just occurred to me that when I’m on low energy I can actually get energy from reading personal development books. This is kind of strange as I don’t know how it can recharge the extroverted battery. I don’t know if it’s actually the same battery or something else, but it works.

The problem I can identify is that I lack energy to do anything and that’s usually why I’m bored. I have a hard time starting to read personal development articles or books if I’m bored. Likewise I don’t feel like starting a conversation with someone on Facebook either. What can I do to overcome this obstacle? I have some various ideas. I can 1) just willpower through it, but it rarely works; 2) wait until I get tired of being bored, but this can take anywhere from 1 minute to 3 hours—not an ideal choice; 3) use Habitica (game for habits) and gain experience there, but this requires that I take the game serious; 4) use incentives, i.e. I can eat or buy an ice cream or something else only after I have powered through it. I will go with both solution 3 and 4 for time being and see if that works. In addition I need a strategy for contacting a person or starting to read, i.e. minimizing the inertia. My goal is first and foremost to contact people and if they don’t have time or don’t want to meet I can read as a backup plan.

What can I prepare so this becomes as easily as possible when I’m low on energy? I can probably prepare some conversation alternatives and things I like to do with people, that way I don’t have to “come up” with those alternatives again. If I want to watch a movie I can just choose one from my “to watch” list. An example would be “Hi, would you like to talk over a cup of tea?” I need this list to be quickly available, preferably on the phone. It would be good to include various close people that I might want to contact, both so I don’t have to think who I know (as this takes energy) and so I can easily pick out those that I want to meet or talk to in any given day. *DONE*

That’s my plan for getting more energy 🙂

Have a nice day!

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion#Ambiversion

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