for 24 years i thought i was an introvert.

when i was younger, i was a big fan of slumber parties. my friends and i had them all the time. we would make “candy salads” in which each girl would bring a different candy and we would combine all of it in one big bowl and well….you can only imagine the chaos. 10 girls bouncing off the walls, dancing on the couches to mariah carey, and really regretting renting that scary movie that sounded so fun at the time.

ive always been a “people person”. most people are, i think. and those slumber parties are some of my fondest memories growing up. but what i do vividly recall is the post-slumber party sarah. i would be exhausted. so burnt out and overstimulated. i would come home and go upstairs to my room and literally be there for an entire day. “re-charging” as my mom called it. i needed to go be by myself in order to regain sanity again. i needed to do things i loved. i needed to read (baby-sitters club and sweet-valley high, of course). i needed to listen to the silence.

i have continued this habit my whole life. taking time away from people each day is what makes me a better friend, co-worker, daughter, sister, and teacher.

part of the outdoor science program includes spiritual development. my boss’s husband, todd, leads us in bi-weekly exercises in which we learn how to pray in different ways, see scripture in a new light, talk about what we are learning about God, evaluate how we interact with those around us and how we can do it better, how to be more culturally aware with the groups that are in front of us each week and in our community’s, what healthy community looks like, etc etc etc. such good stuff. most of us come away from what we lovingly call “todd time” with tear stained faces, a bit emotionally exhausted, but also with a new perspective. i always come away from my todd time loving God more.

one aspect of our spiritual development for last semester was to take some personality tests, the purpose being to understand a bit more about ourselves and those we live and work with. we all really got into it. there is an entire word culture to these tests. i started hearing conversations like “i’m an ISFJ. what are you?” “oh ok, i get it. it’s because you’re a Guardian. i am an Artisan.”she is a Thinker. i am a Feeler.” wait…what? for a while i started viewing my co-workers in these categories. i saw myself through the lense of these personality characteristics. i tested as an ISFJ (introverted-sensing-feeling-judging). most of these made perfect sense to me. they made sense to my friends. except for the “introverted” part. they all said there was no way i was an I. i fought it of course, explaining how much i ache for that alone time every day. how people wear me out. they said that i light up with people. that i am energized by them. that i have to be an “E”. i decided to take a more detailed accurate form of the same test just to make sure, to appease them. i tested as an “E”. i laughed out loud. really? me? an extrovert?

can i just not be labeled as anything? i would like to just be sarah. please and thank you.

the point of all this babble is that recently i realized that i was not taking good care of myself. i had felt it in my body for a few weeks, but it wasn’t until 2 different people on the same day told me that i don’t seem happy that i really started to think about it. my life here in this place doesn’t allow for a ton of alone time. we have exactly 2 and 1/2 hours off each day to be alone. however, by the time that hour rolls around we are all usually tired and needing a nap, having to run errands, or want to take that time to hang out with people outside of our work environment. my break usually involves a slurpee with carissa, a nap in my room with emelia, time on facebook, and maybe..just maybe…a book. the bible if im lucky? rarely do i have time alone. and i know that its a choice. and i don’t listen to my body enough. all i see are people in front of me that want to hang out, people i enjoy being around, distractions in technology in which i think i might be having “alone time” but really im looking at a computer screen peering into hundreds of people’s lives and being quite overstimulated by the obsession of wanting to know what somone is doing that day.

and then i get smacked by my own bad choices. the joy i normally have fades. the smiles and laughs become a bit more fake because im just too tired. my eyes are glazed over when someone is talking to me. my heart aches because i haven’t been in the Word in a week or two. i got smacked in the face on wednesday night. after the 2nd person that day told me i didn’t seem happy, i lost it. its so easy to forget how much we are affecting other people by our mood. i hated that people could tell. could tell that i wasn’t taking care of myself. calling my mom wrapped in a blanket on our porch as the rain literally poured down all around me made me feel better. 2 honest conversations with friends and many tears shed later i was ready. i went outside with my bible. the manna that i needed. i listened to the silence. i was quiet. i wasn’t thinking about anyone but me. and god. and thats all who was there on that porch that night. me and god. i heard him. i heard my heart. lovingly reminding me of what i need. the importance of taking care of myself so that i have the strength to love someone else.

this is a long blog. and i really didn’t even get to the point of why i wrote it until the last paragraph. but it was healing to write it.

i hope that if you are reading this (all 3 of you?) that you are reminded to take care of yourself. you are all you have. people need you. they need your cup to overflow onto them. fill yourself today. and then look for those people that need to be saturated with the overflow.