15 months of Anxiety...
When will the bubble burst? Do I want it to burst? Is the bubble good, or bad?
I have felt in a state of turmoil almost consistently for the past 15 months.
I run my own consultancy business, and from January 2015 up until September of 2020, I also ran a small coworking space in my community. A strange choice for an introvert you might think, but I love to help people achieve their potential, and creating a space for like-minded people to run their small businesses from, seemed like the perfect way to meet the people I wanted to work with. (I also previously ran networking events - but let's not go down the rabbit-hole of psychoanalysing that at the moment..🤭)
During the last 15 months, I had to decide whether to continue the business I had passionately fought to build (it won't work, you're mad, you're wasting your time, why don't you just get a real job..), and when I decided not to (running a coworking space during lockdowns was not an ideal choice of career!), I was thankfully able to instead find a beautiful alternative space for our coworking community to continue to work together.
But between March and September last year, when many were working from home (an introverts dream you might think), and home-schooling their children, my life did a bit of a 180!
My poor extrovert husband had to work alone at home, and I had to go to the office, as some of my coworking clients were essential workers and needed the space to be fully operational for them.
So the kids went to school (didn't miss a day last year as it happens - bet there won't be many kids can say that about 2020!), my husband took over the home office, and I went into full auto-pilot, and started living in a bubble of repetitive actions, day after day.
I was checking the worldwide news constantly, reading articles about COVID to educate myself and make sure I was doing all the right things in my coworking space, watching almost every live video the politicians were putting out, changing the guidelines every day or two, all while trying to pretend as much of my life was 'normal' as possible.
But nothing was, or is normal any more, and I've come to accept that. One of the things I've studied over the years is Change Management, and whilst I've always been able to apply it in a business sense to other people's businesses, recognising that I needed to apply it to my own business, and my own life, seemed almost an impossible task.
I continued to work in my bubble in auto-pilot mode, and even managed to take on a new client or three, and make myself insanely busy - to the point where I had no time to stop and think about what was actually going on around me, and in the world.
My family are overseas, and not being able to visit them was, and is, one of the hardest things I've ever had to manage emotionally. When we made the decision to live in another country, we did it knowing that we were just a plane ride away.
But when that control is taken away from you, dealing with the lack of choice is harder than I ever expected. So I kept on working in the bubble - staying as busy as a little bee, and with no time to process how long it had been since I'd taken a real break.
And then I realised that as much as I love my extrovert husband, my family, my friends and my business clients and colleagues; my introversion and depleting energy have been screaming internally at me to find a quiet spot away from everyone.
To sit outside.
And contemplate the growing blades of grass.
Or watch the clouds drift above.
And think about all the books I'm going to read.. (interestingly, since I've been sitting in anxiety for so long, my ability to read has hit rock bottom. It's like my brain can't focus long enough to get as lost as I usually would in the world of the story and the characters.😢)
Taking a morning off to have coffee or breakfast on my own used to be sufficient to recharge me, but it's been ongoing and consistent for so long now that The Great Escape seems to be the only option left. Other than losing my mind, which is feeling like the only other possibility!
I've become better at managing my energy over the past 10 years, but not in a fully present way. When I was exhausted previously, I would just leave my calendar a bit more empty than usual, and pretend to go shopping for something specific (that I never found of course, 'cos I didn't really look!), and then have a commiserative coffee to make myself feel better about the thing I didn't get (look for).
So I think it's time to plan The Great Escape.
And then schedule it at least once a year. To a bubble of choice. Not an enforced one where I'm trapped, but a quiet cocoon. No-one said the bubble had to be transparent - it can be translucent 😉!
To any of you introverts out there who are feeling this way - try and find a way to create your own escape, from everyone. I've realised that although I am passionate about community and connection, the 'power of one' for an introvert is like a super-charge - if you need a kick-start rather than a slow-burn, maybe it's time for you to find yours!