So it’s been one whole year of me attempting to find what ‘fun’ means for me, pushing my comfort zone, learning my personal sweet spot between challenge and boredom… and hopefully, showing you that you can do the same, all on your own introverted terms.
I definitely don’t regret doing the challenge, and didn’t find it too hard to put out an extra podcast each week and do something that I could say would be worth your eartime. However, I only count 44/52 weekly challenges, so clearly I didn’t manage every week.
Some weeks it was just too hard to schedule something bigger in, and it was interesting watching myself argue with myself as to whether I could podcast about reading a magazine, even though I personally find it fun.
It was interesting to see how my mood dictated what might be fun: some weeks I had a lot of energy to extrovert, and some I really didn’t. I found the summer particularly hard, because I struggled with the heatwave we had, and lots of my more adventurous plans got pushed back, and ultimately cancelled.
I certainly don’t see fun in the same way I did in January 2018. My biggest discovery is just how much challenge I need in order to feel a real sense of fun – at least the rewarding type, the type that stimulates my adrenal system, probably. The activities that only stimulated pleasure, or dopamine, were much less rewarding and sometimes I felt a bit crap afterwards: like making and eating a batch of shortbread cookies.
Of course the type of challenge proved important: I learned a LOT about what makes for a conducive group environment for introverts (and yes they do exist) vs. what makes a really unpleasant, possibly damaging one. There is an art to group facilitation, and I’ve seen both ends of the extreme this past year.
The biggest discovery was that my most memorable and rewarding adventures involved… people. Well, people and travel. I knew I liked travelling to new places already, but the people one? Well, that was a surprise.
Again, the type of people involved make or break an adventure. Also, the time spent and what you’re doing is going to make a difference too. But some of the things I did with friends, like Improv comedy – I can’t fathom having done had I not had one of my besties, Rachel, there to accompany me.
And the adventure that could have proved a total disaster – the retreat in Peru – was made magical by the great people I met there, and the facilitators at Dreamglade. I learned that to be a good facilitator for introverts, you have to be super warm, without going over the top. Introduce yourself, don’t assume they know who you are or anyone else is. If there’s time, ask the introvert who they are privately – don’t insist on group introductions. And finally, prepare them for what’s to come! Again, ideally this will be a 1-1 but it could be to the whole group, or even sent by email in advance. I have lots more to say about group facilitation, but I’ll save that for later this year I think.
I will say that I’ve noticed a big shift this year in my ability to manage my energy, when it comes to people time. I’ve learned not just to recoup after social activities, but to conserve energy during them. This involves more inner work, rather than taking physical time outs. It’s more to do with how you interact… I haven’t quite put all of this into a theory yet, with actual words, but I plan to, so watch this space.
Now for the reward ceremony:
Remember the angels and aliens and egg stone? Yep, the woo-woo capital of the UK was by far the most fun I had. And this was experienced with not one but two people! And we had all of 3 nights there together. I think the fact that we’re all introverts helped, and the fact that we get on like the proverbial house on fire, helped.
Listen to the Glastonbury episode >>
Oh boy was this a disaster. I went to Chichester to take a workshop in learning the Charleston, because I’d attended a conference where we did a bit of the Lindyhop, enjoyed it, and figured this would basically be the same. Trust me, I was prepared to be embarrassed by my dance ability – or lack of – but I wasn’t prepared to feel so… unwelcome by the people there.
I don’t blame anyone for this, it probably was my own attitude, but it was enough that I left half way through. Hey, it happens. And my one rule of thumb with any of these personal growth challenges is: if you sense something truly isn’t for you, don’t stick it out! Leave, be done with it and find something that does suit you.
Listen to the Charleston episode >>
Oh yeah, my trip to the Amazon! It has to be the one. Technically, this was probably the riskiest thing I did, and if you know about what it is to be a HSS you can probably understand the appeal this adventure had for me.
I’m not going to recommend this one to everyone, and I’d lean on the cautious side especially if you’re new to plant medicine and solo travel, but… if you’re interested, I can highly recommend the centre I went to, Dreamglade and the awesome people there. For a group environment, surprisingly introvert-friendly.
Listen to the Ayahuasca episode >>
I wanted to pick something you can do in most cities, and I think this one is a bit obscure, but if you CAN do a sound bath or a gong bath near you – DO IT. I personally found it very introvert-friendly (because you’re just lying down with your eyes closed) whilst still being a new experience that challenged my comfort zone just the right amount.
If you’re someone who struggles with meditation or yoga or other spiritual practises… this is one to try. In my opinion, it’s one of the experiences where it’s hard not to feel very chilled out in. Much easier for me than the float tank anyway.
But if you want something a bit more solitary, then you can’t go wrong with making a collage. You could pare it with buying a nice magazine beforehand, which could serve as your collage material. Ooh and make yourself a batch of cookies for afterwards.
Not so much a challenge, but a continuation of updates that are more personal and hopefully give you ideas about:
This has been a dream of mine for years now, to live off my laptop and travel the world, and whilst I can’t pretend I feel totally ready to do it, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be and I’m not getting any younger.
I was pushed to take action when I was in Peru last year: realising that as much as I appreciate the magic of the internet and still want to make a living from online, remote work – I don’t want to be a slave to it.
I want to spend time outdoors, help in a practical way, and meet new people… which is most definitely in my area of discomfort zone, but that’s all the more reason for me to give it a go.
And that’s all this is: it’s giving something a go. It’s experimenting. It’s playing. Which reminds me of the breakthrough one-liner I received in Peru: ’This isn’t a pass or fail thing.’
OK so first stop is confirmed: Porto!
Then I have some tentative plans to do some workstay’s around Portugal until late March, when I’m going over the pond to Palm Springs, Cali. This is because I’m going to be speaking on two days at the Alt Summit, which, in its own words is: “the premiere conference for creative entrepreneurs and stylish social media influencers.”
Then I’ll be going to a retreat centre in Joshua Tree, which looks amazing, and doing another workstay deal there. In May I’m heading north to Seattle, a place I’ve always wanted to see since Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks stole my heart in that movie… you know what I’m talking about.
I’m there for another conference, this one is… um, well… it’s an astrology conference. Don’t judge me! I explain my interest in the art of astrology in the latest Seeker and Skeptic podcast – guess which one I am. Find that at seekerandskeptic.com
OK so after that… agh! I don’t fully know, but it’s likely going to get exotic for the months of June through to late August/September. I’ll either go back to Peru for more adventures in plant medicine, or do the stereotypical lifestyle entrepreneur thing and go to Bali and/or Thailand.
One thing I know is I’ll be wrapping the year up, if I can afford it… in Japan, my heartthrob country. I want to see the autumn there, and try out all my Japanese I kind of learned and kind of have forgotten already…
I’m planning on being home, in London, for Christmas. And who knows, I might be back in Brighton before that even.
This is the biggest challenge for me right now: NOT KNOWING. And as an INTJ who loves to dream but also loves to logically make plans and put them into action… this is kind of killing me.
But hey ho, for every great adventure there is a great sacrifice, and that’s the one I’m making.
So, if you’re up for following along on my journey, I’m going to try to actually make video content this year (that’s something I failed at on the YOF) and that will be posted on my Instagram account @creativeintro and my Youtube channel, which I’m just dipping my toe in – search for The Creative Introvert and I should pop up there.
Oh and if you’re in or near any of these places in the next few months, and want to meet in a quiet cafe, hit me up!
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