Volume 4, Issue 2, 02/25/10
Introvert on the Road
A couple weeks ago I took a short road trip, solo, to visit my
sister and my brother. A little under 400 miles one way.
I was leaving on Friday morning and as life would have it,
Thursday was a very busy day, into the evening.
My plan was to get on the road by about 9 AM. I was pretty
determined and pretty happy about my plan. But before I went
to bed Thursday night, I had that familiar feeling of my plan
and reality not quite matching up. To be out the door by 9:00
the next morning would be a small miracle and probably not
I remember reading an article a few years ago about the busyness
of life in the U.S. It told about the comedian Ellen DeGeneres
coining the term Too-Busy-Syndrome (TBS) and reported that
before the 2004 presidential election a poll of swing voters had
rated not enough free time as their biggest concern - ahead of
the economy, health care, the war in Iraq, etc.
Thursday night I diagnosed myself with TBS, for sure. I woke
up the next morning at 6:00, half determined, half pretending
that I'd leave by 9:00.
After a few half hours of pretending and determination I noticed
I wasn't having much fun and had a moment of truth. It was that
I could start having fun if I slowed down and if I remembered
that I was on a mini-vacation and that I was the one who'd
decided to leave by 9:00.
So I slowed down and started having fun.
I let myself pack more stuff than I would probably use -
including a cheerfully embarrassing number of books - to allow
for freedom of choice and spontaneity and unexpected bursts of
creativity. I let myself think about not just leaving - I
thought about coming back, too, so I could be more ready for
life after my mini-vacation.
I called a friend who's recuperating from surgery. He'd been
on my mind for days but I'd been too busy suffering from TBS
to call him. I even deboned a leftover chicken and put the
meat in the freezer instead of throwing it away because I was
in too much of a hurry.
I left at noon instead of 9:00. I was in such a state of "beauty
and order" by the time the car was packed, it was almost hard
to leave. And I was smiling.
Introvert bodies, as I'm fond of pointing out, are designed to
operate most naturally at a slower pace than extroverts'. Our
nervous systems like to take it easy. Too-Busy-Syndrome is not
an introvert body's preferred syndrome.
I got on the road and realized I was on a roll with taking it
easy. When I remembered I should call my sister to let her know
I was three hours behind my original plan, I found myself
pulling over instead of nervously breaking my intention to not
use my cell phone while driving. I drove the speed limit the
whole way without feeling guilty for going "too slow".
Four days later, on my way back, I reminded myself I was still
on vacation and hung out for 2 1/2 hours during my lunch stop,
reading, daydreaming, planning.
It was dark when I got into town, but I didn't mind.
End of food for thought, onto a practical idea:
A Practical Idea for Introverts and Extroverts
Diagnose yourself - are you suffering from TBS? If you are,
take two aspirin and go straight to bed :-).