Introvert in an Extroverted family

Yesterday I went to my cousin’s wedding. I had an absolute blast! There are a couple of reasons for it. But the main reason was a personal realization. My gut always says “It’s okay to sit or stand to the side and watch the fun!” My training always says “Why aren’t you out there with the rest of your family?!” I said that last night to my hubby early in the reception.

I am so glad I did. Saying it out loud helped me to realize that by observing, watching my family celebrating, I am participating in my own, comfortable way. It also helped that this was a much more informal reception where no tables were assigned and we never sat down. We found spaces that worked for us to stand and be out of the path of traffic, but still be a part of things. We sang along with the music. We even danced to a few songs.

It felt so good finally finding my place in a big party/celebration like that. It allowed me to be a part of things instead of trying to maintain my walls and worry about what people are saying because I’m not out there like everyone else. I came home just as, if not more, energized than when I arrived! No introvert hangover this morning!

This is really going to help me out at DragonCon this year. It’s another place where being an introvert can be draining. But if I just remember that I’m there for the same reason as everyone else – DragonCon – I’ll be just fine!

I Feel Good!

HAPPINESS IS...quiet time

I am an introvert. I get drained by too much interaction. I need somewhere that I can fully relax and be myself so I can recharge my energy. This past school year I was living in an apartment with three other lovely ladies. I had my own space. I could shut the door. But I was never able to fully recharge.

But all that has changed.

This week I moved into my new apartment. My apartment. It’s all mine. I’m the only one there. I have space! I have an area for working/studying. I have an area for relaxing and watching TV. I have an area for sleeping. I have a kitchen all to myself! It has been a wonderful week. I didn’t realize how drained I was until this week. I knew I wasn’t getting a full recharge, but not anymore!

Since I moved in on Tuesday, I’ve cooked multiple meals from ingredients in the fridge (I went to BW3s a few times). I’ve listened to music loud-ish and sung along loudly without any reservation. I’ve not had to worry about running out of hot water or if someone else is also showering. I can soak in the tub (which I plan on doing next week)!

I hadn’t realized how much better I felt until I was heading home to the hubby today. I set my iPod to shuffle my Favorites playlist and had a blast driving those two hours. I got home and felt really good. Usually I have to recover from the drive. This time I’m recharged; I can just enjoy being home.

Hopefully all of this will lead to a productive weekend home before I head back up on Sunday to get ready for the week. This coming week is Graduate School Orientation, which means the new cohort arrives and we all mingle and get to know each other. It also means one last week before classes begin. Ack!

I just have to remind myself:
That which does not kill me only makes me weirder and harder to relate to.

It’s complicated

Graduate school is both harder than and just as hard as I thought it would be. The work for class is about as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m enjoying being in class more than I thought I would.

It’s the time outside of class work that is harder than I thought it would be. Granted, I have made some amazing friends that are making it easier, but they can only do so much. I can’t think of another way to put this, so I’ll put it bluntly: I am an introvert who has lived with the same person for the past 10 years. That is not an easy thing to live with.

As an introvert, I need a place where I can recharge. A place where I can get away from everything and recharge. I don’t really have that right now. During the week I spend most of my days on campus, either at class or in my office. I’ve got all of my tea in the office, along with all the supplies I own to make said tea. Once I either get exhausted or hungry or notice the time, or any combination of the above, I head back to the apartment and go to bed. There’s not much else I do there. It’s a place for me to store stuff that doesn’t fit in the office.

The weekends are usually spent going somewhere. Usually back home to the hubby. That’s when I get a chance to recharge. But I can’t completely relax and kick back because there are things that need to be done on the weekends. I need to get my stuff put away so it’s not taking over the living room while I’m not there. We have to get groceries to at least get through the weekend so we’re not living on fast food. I’ve spent the whole week away, we want to spend time together. And then there’s any work I need to get done before Monday.

And none of this is anyone’s fault. I had to scramble to find somewhere to live, and I got lucky with the roommates I ended up with. I am very grateful for them. But, at the same time, I am really looking forward to having a place of my own next year. A place where it’s all my space. A place where I can close the door to the apartment, change into pyjamas and TARDIS robe and K-9 slippers, brew up a pot of tea, and relax on the couch if I need to. Somewhere that has enough space for me to have a desk with a chair that will allow me to get work done without having to worry about my legs going to sleep. Somewhere where I have a kitchen all to myself!

I think that’s probably another thing that’s really messing with me. Again, after 10 years of having a kitchen of my own, having to share is really weird. Also, since I have a kitchen already, I can’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new supplies. But, with a kitchen of my own, I’ll feel better about bringing stuff from home to use in it so I can cook instead of relying on fast food. I know this fast food dominated diet is not helping things. But, again, it’s not anyone’s fault.

I guess I’m just looking forward to the next school year. I’m going to have an apartment all to myself. I’m going to have a different desk with plenty of shelf space for my numerous books (anyone surprised I have more books than space for them?). Then again, it’s going to be stressful since I’ll be working on my thesis in earnest and teaching and taking classes. But, who knows, maybe having the apartment will help. Maybe having somewhere that can be a sanctuary away from the chaos of the world will help me to deal with everything better.

I guess we’ll find out.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know that was a long post, but I just needed to get that out. And, to those who are a part of my day-to-day life, thanks for putting up with this stressed, introverted, graduate student.

Caring for Myself

This semester has been really intense. I have a feeling that it’s on purpose. If I can survive this semester, I can survive the next three. But there is something that I haven’t been doing such a great job of recently: taking care of myself. I’m working on fixing that.

The week before Thanksgiving, my air mattress died. Considering it had been constantly inflated since the end of August, it’s amazing it held up that long. So I got myself a new mattress to sleep on. It’s foam and it folds up into a small couch.

It’s great! It has completely transformed the feeling of my room in BG. During the day it gets folded up which gives me two things: a place to sit and get work done, and floor space. It’s given me somewhere I can comfortably retreat from the world while getting work done! It’s really helping me recharge at the end of a long day.

On Facebook, I’m in the group Introverts are Awesome. They post great pics and articles for and about introversion. It’s a wonderful source of positivity. I recently went through the pictures they’ve posted so far and saved quite a few. I also saved a number of desktop wallpapers. I put all the wallpapers into rotation on my desktop and the pictures as my screensaver. It’s amazing how much they are helping me to relax and recharge, even while I’m at my office.

There’s just one space left: my room at home. It’s an absolute mess right now. I need to do a serious cleaning, on so many levels. I’m realizing how much I need my me-cave again, and the state it’s in right now is very useless. But I think I know how to make it extremely useful again. Unfortunately that is going to take more time than I have right now, but I should have that time over break, which starts in a few weeks.

It’s strange that I have to remind myself to take care of myself. I’m glad I did, well with the gentle reminder of a friend or two I did.

Life = Sledgehammer

At least it feels that way. Lately I have been so busy with so many things that I want to share with all of you but I haven’t had time to do it. So I’m going to quickly run over everything and go into details in their own post. Also it’ll help me remember what I wanted to write about.

Books
I am continuing to make progress through The Dresden Files. I’m up to Proven Guilty although I do have a short story I need to read quick before moving on. It really is cool going though all of it again. But seeing as I’m reading everything except the short stories on my Kindle (the Paperwhite makes reading before falling asleep so much more convenient!), I was really starting to jones for a book.

Thankfully I had picked one up. I had stopped in a Barnes & Noble to use the restroom quickly when I saw a book that I had heard about on NPR (I think) and really wanted to read it. Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain is an amazing and, for me, freeing read. I have probably mentioned it before, but I am an introvert. My hubby is an introvert. Many on my dad’s side of the family are introverts. But America is the land of the free and home of the extrovert. It is hard living as an introvert in an extroverted nation, but Quiet helps me to realize that it’s not a bad thing. I’m barely a quarter of the way into it and I love it! There will be a very thorough post, or two, about this wonderful book!

Photography
Ever since taking a basic photography class at school, I’ve been getting more and more into photography. I’ve always enjoyed it, but that class inspired me to start investing more into it. Recently I’ve invested a little bit more. I bought a 35mm lens and a couple of ND8 filters, one for the 35mm and one for the lens that came with the camera. I think that 35mm lens is going to change how I take pictures in a wonderful way.

Crafts
This is a complex one. First, while I am working on The Dude’s on the Grid sweater, I’ve also been inspired to get the supplies for a couple of baby blankets. Friends of ours recently had a baby and I wanted to do something for them. Then I remembered that my sister requested I make a Gryffindor-color striped baby blanket for her future nursery. No need for it yet, but I thought “Why not find the pattern now and use it for our friend’s blanket?” So I found a great blanket pattern, and ordered some great purple yarns and needles from KnitPicks. Hopefully I’ll be able to get started on it soon.

Second, I have a new job. I’m working at Jo-Ann’s. It’s really stressful suddenly working an almost 40-hour-a-week job where I’m on my feet for most of that time after working at a desk job for over five years. I’m slowly starting to get used to it again. But add school to it and I’m having a hard time finding a good balance that includes time for myself. I’m really hoping that writing here will give me some of that me-time again.

Food
Fall has inspired me to start cooking again. Between cranberries and squash and Brussels sprouts and asparagus, my fridge is full of food waiting to be cooked. As things happen, pics are posted to Instagram. Hopefully there will be posts here to talk about the wonderful photos I’m slowly filling up my Instagram with.

Okay. Now I think I’m going to meander toward bed. I’ve rambled for long enough.