So there you are in a social mingle, chatting up a storm and leading the conversations. Everyone is having a blast and your concentration level is superb. But then your focus wanes, and you begin to commit less and less to the discussion. All of a sudden, you are no longer interested and shut down.
If you’re an introvert, you probably understand this frustration all too well. And if you can imagine your social vitality as a battery, such situations start to make even more sense. When it comes to social interactions, we introverts operate in a different manner to others. Socializing can be draining, and yet, contrary to popular belief, we are quite good at it.
This imaginary social battery allows us to operate like fireworks, exploding with momentary displays of charisma. Then it fleets. Why? Because we have to “recharge.” This need for periodic isolation is not a flaw of ours, but a strength.
After recharging ourselves in isolation, we are able to return to the world and interact with others as competently as any socially savvy individual might. This recharging allows us to become grounded and in tune with our unique selves. However, the more energy you commit to social activity, the quicker you’ll have to step back and recharge.
So how does one go about it – recharging one’s social battery?
First, accept that you’re okay with stepping back
Everything is going well, everyone is laughing, everyone loves your presence.
When this happens, we tend to get a bit greedy and try to overextend our stay. By doing so, we are skipping the opportunity for a rest from the social interaction, and this leads to exhaustion.
There is meaning in absence, and having time to yourself only boosts your presence around others. How so? For one, you give people time to miss you. There is no need to explain how this happens since human nature alone proves that people often miss things after losing them, even if momentarily.
Two, you allow yourself to regroup and become grounded. According to Osho, a renowned guru and philosopher from India, there is value in alone time because we get to experience ourselves at our purest, most honest form. As he put it in The Sound of One Hand Clapping, “Why not experience what this aloneness is? It is our very nature, our very being.”
Fortunately for us introverts, we have no problem spending time by ourselves, because we’re naturals at it. Temporary isolation is, indeed, the introverted way.
Whenever engaged in social interactions, step out right before you feel gassed
This means don’t wait until you run out of energy and become completely disinterested. Leave to spend some time by yourself right before this happens. But how do you know you are nearing the end of your social vitality?
Everyone is different, but we usually digress slowly from social interactions, becoming less interested as the conversation prolongs. When you start noticing your focus waning, it’s usually a sign that it’s time to get some rest. You can excuse yourself by referring to other priorities.
However, if you experience a sudden stop in social energy, feel free to excuse yourself right then and there. Don’t feel guilty about it either; people have things to do.
Do what you like to do in your alone time. Be it reading, surfing the Internet, or listening to music, just indulge in your individual and allow yourself to experience you.
Idleness is a great way to revitalize one’s social energy. Walking long distances can help as well. Even driving can be therapeutic. Whenever you become weary from spending too much time interacting with people, it’s important to give your mind some rest because it works vigorously during social interactions.
You’ll find that it’s liberating to not worry about what to say, how to say it, trying to recall things to add to the conversation, or even remembering people’s names.
2-3 hours of alone time is good, but it’s entirely up to you. You might need a simple 10-20 minutes of space.
What about when you can’t step away?
There are social events that we literally can’t step away from. It could be a company function, or a party. Regardless of the situation, just step outside for a few minutes. Stepping out for a breather is probably the best thing one can do in such a situation because it allows you to create space for yourself. That way, you won’t feel drained by all the social activity occurring around you.
Stepping outside periodically will ensure that you remain socially energized throughout the event.
Long term recharging works too
You shouldn’t only recharge your social batteries throughout the day; you should do it throughout your week too. Sometimes, it’s good to spend a few days (if possible) isolating yourself to mentally prepare for days when you won’t be able to, like the examples mentioned above.
It also works to surround your social days with idle days where you don’t engage in too much activity.
Recharging batteries is an art
Don’t let this talk about recharging one’s batteries fool you into thinking that social activity is negative, or that isolation is a hassle. Everyone functions differently and we should appreciate that about ourselves.
Spending time on you is an art. It allows you to return to your person after being around so many other presences. It allows you to experience your individual in its fullest, unadulterated, uninfluenced form.
After recharging, you can return to the world and experience it the way you enjoy most.