What's Important 2: The Social Tank

Note: A few years ago I wrote a series of pieces on "What's Important." They got a decent amount of traffic on my old blog, so I've decided to re-run them on my new site.

I'm a bit of a misanthrope.

I say "a bit" because the definition of a misanthrope is someone who hates and/or distrusts humankind, and I don't think that's entirely true in my case.  "Hate" is probably too strong of a word.  "Distrust?"  There's something to that.

The bottom line is that, if I have my way (which I rarely do), I would prefer to spend more time alone than not.

This can make life difficult when you're married to someone who enjoys having at least a little bit of a social life.

Over the last few days, I received confirmation of a theory I've held for a long, long time, something that I think applies to most introverts.

See, people sometimes paint introverts as unable to be social.  But that's not the case.  Introverts can be as social as anyone else, they just have a limit.  I only have so much socializing in my tank.  And if I use it all up, it's going to take time for me to refill.

Not that I really know how it works for extroverts, but I think it's the opposite for them.

Funny enough, it's entirely possible for an introvert to fool people into thinking they're anything but.  It's all a matter of timing and planning.

I have spent the last five days on a mini-vacation.  I only actually took three days off from work, but they

Borrowed from http://www.evercurious.com

surrounded a weekend, which gave me five straight days without a single work related activity.  I even set an out of the office message on my work e-mail, something I don't think I've ever done in my entire life.

My vacation is ostensibly over.  It's after six in the evening of my last day off, which means I'd be home from work by now, anyway.  I'm already panicking that I didn't accomplish enough over those five days.  I felt an incredible crush of failure and, for more than a few minutes, had a "what's it all about" moment.

That's a little bit of a digression right there is what that is.

Anyway, having the last five days off has underscored something I've always known, but never really embraced: working drains my social tank.

Here's the thing: I have to socialize at work.  Heck, I like it, as long as it's on my terms.  It makes the day go by much faster.  But I'm in an environment where even if I have nothing but dreary reports to do (and that is quite often my fate), I'm still surrounded by others.  By attention span being what it is, I engage with those others and it is, more often than not, perfectly fine.

But 40-ish hours of that a week is my max.  It's often more than that.  When the weekend comes or, heck, even weeknights, my tolerance to socialize with anyone other than my wife is about as close to zero as

possible.

Borrowed from

http://wynbrand.wordpress.com

Honestly, I like people, more or less.  And when I have the ability to be social, I like being social.  But when I don't, it freaks me out.  It's is almost unbearable.

Clearly, the solution, then, is to never go to work every again.

But that's not really an option for me.

There has to be a happy medium between working every day and being a misanthrope and being a destitute socialite, yes?

I'm working on it.  We'll see how it goes.