As an introvert, I need time to be alone, recharge, set my mind and heart right, ponder, pray, and just stop reacting to the stimulus around me. My family and I do not have the same temperament so when I say, “I need to be alone” I receive strange, heartbroken looks.
I knew when I made plans to visit family for the holidays it was going to be a test of my endurance, but I also know how blessed I am to have a family, and also, an employer that gives me paid leave. So, I packed my bags and headed across country for nearly a two-week stay.
The first day at my family’s house was fine. I was awake at 4 am (time change problems) and I had two hours to myself before there was a sound in the house. It was wonderful. Then after a full day of festivities, I awoke this morning completely exhausted. Some family members were already awake, so there was no place to hide. (I am sharing a room, so it’s not like I can hide in a room.)
So, I decided to just leave. Take a walk to the local Starbucks and spend time alone (which is what I am doing right now as I type this). My mom asked, “How could you be alone with other people around?”
“I live in the city. You learn to be alone with millions of people around you.”
And it’s true. Strangers do not bother me. I can find my happy place in the middle of a crowd. There’s no expectations set on me from others. They do not need anything from me. I am most likely invisible, except for the few who I make uncomfortable eye contact with when I look up from my computer (yes, sorry guy with the glasses. You’re just right there.)
So, why am I writing this blog? I wanted to give some advice on how I stay sane during the holidays.
I follow two principles:
Take Your Time.
Like literally, take the time that you have and use it. Don’t let it pass you by. Don’t let other people tell you how to use it. I have learned how God has made me and how best I interact with the world, so I will take the time and use it to slow down, process, and pray. Basically, do the things that fill up your soul. I know I need time with God, so even when I vacation, I continue my daily disciplines because it’s what brings my heart the most joy and energy.
Build and Stand Behind Boundaries.
Not everyone will understand you and that’s okay. Some people may accuse you of being selfish for wanting to be alone, and really, that’s okay. Don’t let guilt or shame force your hand. Let your loved ones say what they want, listen to them, and move on. Just because someone wants something doesn’t mean you are responsible for it. They may want to spend every second with you because they have missed you, which is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t mean you have to actually spend every second with them. I am no good to someone when I feel defeated.
I am sure there are other strategies and I would love to hear them. Let me know in the comments below and let’s teach one another better ways of living in this world.
Love and God Bless!