On Thursday I drove out to Rochester to visit some people and take some pictures. Besides my car feeling ever so generous and continuously donating rusty parts to the highway, it could not have been a nicer trip. I drove back on Saturday afternoon feeling so abundantly blessed in so many of the best ways.
And then…I came home. And the house was empty (my parents were out of town for the weekend). And I got to do something I hadn’t done in nearly a year:
(This is the part where you call me a loser.)
I am a by-the-book introvert. I enjoy being around people and have a multitude of vibrant friendships, but I get filled up by spending time alone. My hermit qualities are well-documented. Quiet nights at home spent doing simple things – watching football or Friends, reading a magazine, writing and reflecting, going for a long walk – is the fuel that keeps my engine running. And Saturday night was the first night I’ve spent alone in a place that felt like home in nearly a year.
I didn’t know how much I missed it, and how much I needed it, until I found myself doing a literal happy dance in the kitchen.
Oh yes. It happened.
My spontaneous dance-a-thon was sponsored by the pure joy of feeling normal for the first time in such a long time. I’d forgotten what it felt like to have my own version of a normal Saturday night: to walk to the grocery store and get ice cream and pizza (in that order) for dinner, to edit pictures while laughing at a movie, to cry buckets during the Hall of Fame enshrinement speeches, and to do it all in restorative solitude. It was so wonderful.
There are many things I’m not good at, but one thing I’m really good at is making things ok. I can spin any situation into a positive situation and be ok with it. And while in so many ways that’s a helpful attribute to have, in so many other ways it’s not helpful at all. Because it makes me believe that I’m doing really well when in reality, I’m just getting by. And here’s the difference:
On Sunday, post-hermit night, I was a rock star. I got up early and ran. I had church at home. I sat outside and wrote blog posts like a boss. I had a group video chat and felt noticeably more energized while contributing to the conversation. I was able to welcome my parents home with so much joy.
And all because I was operating on a full tank.
It’s easy for me to operate on an empty tank and pretend that it’s full. But that’s not strong; it’s stupid. Because I’m so much more able to be the best version of myself, and to give my best to others, when I’m running on full.
What fills you up? And how do you refuel on a regular basis? Or do you pretend and just scrape by instead?