I have successfully navigated into 2012 and I am excited to get after the goals that I have set for myself this year. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do generally take some time to evaluate the old year and set some aims for the New Year. In looking back at 2011, I realized that it was a year of contemplation, evaluation and planning. My surgery in April slowed me down and gave me six weeks leave to do very little except to examine where my life was and where I might like it to go.
The rest from my usual schedule, which I tend to pack much too full, gave me the breathing space to have a look at alternatives. I know one thing for sure about myself: I am an introvert, which, for you extroverts out there, does not mean that I am lonely, antisocial or hostile towards others. Extroverts get their energy renewed by spending time with people; introverts get theirs from spending quiet time alone with their own thoughts. One of the reasons that starting a blog was disquieting for me is that it does reveal the true me to the world: my intellectual life is the part of me that I tend to think of as the “real me” and I protect that person from the slings and arrows of the outside world.
Interestingly, any of the personality tests that I have taken have identified me as an introvert, but always very close to the borderline between that state and extroversion. I do enjoy time spent with friends and need their company to have a full and complete life. Without friends, who would drag me to movies? Who would I convince to attend conferences with me? Who would I talk over the frustrations and joys of life? I realized as I recovered from surgery how lucky I was to have the circle of friends that I do. One friend took me to the hospital, helped me find where I ought to be and stayed until I had removed my street clothes and put on the hospital gown. Without her, I might have just walked right back out the front door and chickened out completely. Another woman collected me from the hospital and made sure I got home safely. A third friend was my emergency contact and was on hand for my first shower in case anything went wrong. Numerous people visited both in hospital and at home, took me to get my staples out, offered tea and sympathy, and were just there, providing emotional support during a time of weakness. I love them all.
Those six weeks of recovery started a trend in 2011—once I was back into the swing of regular life, I started to journal in a serious way, following up on the many lines of thought that the down time had started. I vowed to write three pages a day in my journal until such time as the exercise produced some insights. Word to the wise, don’t start a program like this unless you really want to know what’s wrong in your life and are willing to make some changes. I distinctly remember the day that some little person inside me got tired of the regular litany of things that were bothering me and the problem solving that I had been engaging in on the journal page. It was like another person grabbed the pen and said “Okay, you’ve wanted to know what should change to make you happier—here it is. This is what you need to change.” Very startling the first time it happened, but it started to be a welcome voice, offering great advice. Sorry, X-Files, the truth isn’t “out there”, it’s inside me.
After realizing how important my friendships are to my happiness, I have declared 2012 to be the Year of the Friend. My plan is to spend time with my current pals and to make a few new ones too. This may entail attending a few more meetings that I have over the last several years and digging myself out of the comfort zone of my home (to go out into the world where potential friends may be found). I’m also vowing to get over my discomfort with the telephone, to get my home internet connection made to make email and Facebook more useful and to be the one to make the first overture more often. Being an introvert, I’m not marvellous at making small talk—if I’m ever going to acquire the skill, this is the year. So, friends beware, I’m going to be getting in touch more regularly and taking more initiative this year. I hope you don’t get tired of hearing from me!