A while ago I was talking to an important woman with a demanding job and I was quizzing her about her life, how she makes it work (not that I will ever have, or want, a demanding job) – and we fell to talking about some people we know who socialise a lot. And I mean a LOT. Like 4 nights a week most weeks, and are often away at the weekend.
“Do you do that?” I said.
“No,” said the woman, “I’m in most nights. Going out a lot… that’s just not where I get my energy from”.
Okay she was an American, and that’s kind of the way they speak (see my previous post about goop), but she has a good point, doesn’t she? Whether or not you buy into that kind of turn of phrase, there is something there to that acknowledgment that certain things give us our own personal “energy” and some things do not. I think part of not letting life hold you in a half-nelson is identifying what gives you energy and what doesn’t.
The Spike Live was kind of extraordinary – that so many people would turn up because they love The Spike, because they wanted to actualise this community, that they submitted so many pertinent and personal questions, that they talked to everyone, that no-one was a stand-offish douche. It couldn’t have gone better.
But I’m not sure doing that, standing up and talking, scrabbling in my head for what to say next, (when normally I am at my computer and have all the time in the world), suddenly being really aware of my hot face and my ears and my crazy outfit – did that give me energy? I’m not sure.
I worry now that this makes me seem ungrateful – to everyone who came, to the organisational panache and huge generosity of everyone at the Tom Dixon store, especially Super Spiker Juliette Greenspan – or like I had a bad time. I’m not, I didn’t.
But it just struck me, that energy thing. What does give me energy? In no particular order; writing, specifically writing The Spike, cooking (still, after all these years), finding a good book to read after months in the doldrums… watching my children having fun doing something, talking to my husband.
Anyway as we head into half term, (yours may even be coming to and end), with the inevitable pause button that comes with it, I wonder what gives you energy?
Please leave a comment in the handy box below.
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking is a super read on this sort of topic. Actually, can’t recommend it enough.
I really like this way of looking, or thinking about things – and unbelievably I’ve never actually done it, instead just silently loathing the things that should give me energy like socialising, exercising etc…So for me, absolutely cooking, and any meals in or out but strictly with my husband and/or family. And sorting out shoe cupboards / wardrobe / under the bed / in the car / under the kitchen sink, then chucking away / recycling / donating bags of stuff, which is then followed by the thrill for at least one week of everything looking SO tidy.
Charlotte, I am WITH you on this – sorting out stuff totally gives me energy. From time to time I look at my house and get in a total rage internally and feel stressed beyond belief then go into a whirlwind of sorting and its very Zen. Also cooking when I have time to do it properly rather than just slamming sausages into the oven. Or going to bed early in clean sheets having had a bath and with a book and a cup of tea.
Oh my goodness yes, I completely get that. I’m changing my sheets tonight and I am SO EXCITED.
Kelly MH says
I read something of interest once that described the difference in how extraverts and introverts recharge. Extraverts = car batteries, like to be taken out and driven around to top up their energy. Introverts = mobile phone batteries, like to be quietly alone to reenergise. I think this broadly holds true and am a very social introvert – can enjoy a party with the best of them but am always happiesr at home. And if I’m feeling remotely tired, sad, or down in anyway, give me my kitchen and a cup of tea and a cookbook (oh alright and a bottle of wine) stat!
I love this analogy! My partner and I have worked so hard to strike a balance in re-charging as he is a classic extrovert and I’m mostly introverted.
That’s really interesting. All of my extrovert friends thrive on going out; they always have packed diaries and seem slightly freaked out by the concept of a clear weekend. I have never been able to get my head around it.
Lorraine Tresnak says
Kelly MH yes that’s me! The mobile phone battery quietly at home recharging . I love a good night out with friends but as equally as I’m having a ball it’s exhausting me!
I’m a great believer in energy and recharging your batteries in the way that suits you best. I think as you get older, and I am nearly fifty now, then you do need quiet times to compensate for the noisy and busy times. I have my own ‘happy place’ where I go to recharge. It’s normally – as I’m menopausal- right next to a massive fan, reading a good book. As I have become older, I also believe that the energy you put out into the World can come back to you. So I try not to be around negative people as negative energy can be really exhausting. But I remember as I was growing up, my Mother would always be on at me about how rundown I was and how I needed to stop rushing around. I kind of get it now.
I like socialising, at times it gives me huge energy. At other times it’s draining. Depends when, what and with whom. I also find things others loathe such as public speaking, writing proposals, filling in complicated forms by hand, very energizing. However, I think the main thing with energy is not the activity itself but the balance of what is given and what is taken from you in any given exchange. Being around people and ideas that nourish rather than drain you is the thing. Hosting an event can be extremely draining because you are often giving out way more than you’re receiving, particularly if you are hosting strangers as opposed to close family/friends. If you find yourself leaving someone’s company and always feeling drained, even if they are perfectly nice, there’s something off with the balance of give and take in that relationship. This is why dogs are such great company.
Yes, although sometimes giving out can paradoxically generate energy. The easy give and take with friends like you is my best source x
Yes. Giving to someone who is also giving is the thing.xxx
Gutted to have missed it. Next time. I was being an introvert. Finishing some writing. And making chicken pilaf off one of those Waitrose recipe cards. Surprisingly easy and delicious! X
I find my energy is generally good, I work independently so am at home two days, work two days a week, and then disappear on trips. Being in control of my destiny is good. But the biggest energy saver for me is avoiding toxic people. It’s a tough one, as I am related to one of them, but if an encounter call/ meeting makes me feel like shit, then I have to not see them. Simple as that. I can’t change them, I can’t be that tolerant. So I just avoid them: politely and diplomatically swerve. It’s when the penny drops that you don’t need to seek their approval- that things become clearer.
Watch my hormones, have mental health days. Swim in cold water whenever possible.
Closing the door on a Tuesday morning after the school run (I work Mon/Wed/Fri). Tuesday is my alone day, Sunday papers dropped off by my mum the day before, accumulated catalogues from the week and then onto my book. Also fresh flowers in every room. And the silence. It re-boots me for the week. Never don’t feel grateful that oI have this day to myself. Actually feel energy charging up like I’m plugged into the mains!
I love this way of thinking and it’s something I’ve always been conscious of, though I think I’m getting better at turning down things (and people) who dont help my energy as I get older. I think a really stark example of this to me was when I had my babies and friends, some of whom I’ve had for over 25 years, kept insisting I get out and about ASAP. I did not. I stayed at home and made a wee nest for the first 6 weeks after each of my babies. Occasional walks, visits to my mums. Then when I felt I’d started to recover I went out and about more and more. And I’d say personally that with an older baby or child getting up and out every morning was/ is crucial for me and them. But it might not be for you.
I think it’s double edged- recognising what is good for your energy and seeking that out, but not being evangelical about it, accepting other people are different, trying to find balance with you and your loved ones. Common ground. Elaine xx
Natalie Finnerty says
Kelly MH, a social introvert is exactly what I am! I love having things in the diary and seeing family and friends, but I also desperately need quiet time at home alone.
Totally agree about sorting out the house and taking bags to the charity shop! I can literally feel my serotonin levels rising as I do that!
Yes it is a lot harder to acknowledge I find if you get your energy from being alone and quiet as everything in life is so geared up to celebrate socialising that saying you need something different can be seen as a rejection of other people. I’m really interested in people and their lives and funny stories, but if there is too much going on I will soon find myself needing a dark room and a heavy duvet to recover. Before it gets to that point though my energy restorers are much the same – getting caught up in something meditative and quiet with my kids, or watching them engrossed in something. Listening to music while cooking. Writing. Walking, especially in woods and on beaches. Talking to my husband, to whom I never get tired of talking, and reading almost aggressively to ward off the demons.
A thing about friendships too and the give and take mentioned by elfinkate – they are often either intense and spend all the time together doing all the stuff and sending all the messages or you’ve dropped the ball, or else they’re acquaintance-y and always on the terrible small talk, meeting in small herds side of things, which can feel quite lonely and draining. What is rarer and more restorative is the medium kind that you can pick up like a good book, light or heavy, and that makes no other demands on you than your full delighted attention for the time spent together, and, all things being equal – no one is going through a crisis or anything – your fond thoughts until the next time.
I was really hoping you would make the Spike Live at least a semi-regular thing, as I was so disappointed to miss this one (and thought maybe you might be able to make some money off it…?), but would never want you to feel forced into doing it.
Love the acceptance here that we all recharge differently and just need to accept/understand that.
I think ‘social introvert’ should be more widely recognised – I too love going out and doing stuff with people I love but also need everyone to go away and leave me alone. More specifically, I get my energy from following a long and involved recipe or new cooking project; reading a new book or an old favourite in the bath; being with my husband, whenever, wherever, whatever; stroking my baby’s (toddler’s) cheek; AND by being away from the baby and the husband like I was last weekend when I went to Lille with my two best friends and talked and ate constantly for 36 hours.
And ‘reading agressively’!!! Love that!!!
H there will be more live events, but maybe slightly different; even smaller, covering a particular subject, maybe at brunch-time? More of a sit-around group thing, maybe talking about writing or blogging or some aspect of parenting or something. It’s not over! Just changing xxx
That sounds fab!
I had an awesome time last night at the spike live but it did look like a lot of work. No, not work actually, it looked like pressure. I had been thinking about you before (not in a crazy stalker way) but had been aware that I would have spent days feeling sick with anxiety about it and I wondered if you were just breezily fine without it all or if it would feel like a very pressured thing. I mean, even a fairly small bunch of people there just to see YOU is a bit strange, I did sort of want to touch you in a starstruck way (again NOT STALKER). God, I’m explaining so badly but basically, it was great, really good fun and worked well, but I think in a way it also wasn’t really YOU. I think sitting around a table, being a conversation, would be awesome because I was really struck by how much I felt like I wanted all the other people there to be my friend. And not only because I would love to be able to pull off, let alone afford, a Stella McCartney boiler suit. And coming back to the original point, for me I definitely have been energised from that meeting of other like minded people and going out.
It’s okay Suzie! I don’ think you are a stalker. I rely on people wanting to touch me! I totally always want to touch Kat Farmer whenever I see her. She’s cool with it. I was fine about it, it didn’t cause me any anxiety – but while it was actually happening it was quite tiring. I think more of a sitting-about and discussing a topic in a more focussed way – I’d enjoy that more. The first thought that comes to me is a Get-Started-Blogging workshop, because I feel like the business side of all this was what people wanted to know about. Anyway, just started looking for a venue today!
My uncle believes you get energy from standing on “hot spots” in the earth. He drives all about to find particularly good ones and has a whole community of like minded energy spot believers to engage with. I’ve always noticed that a trip to an energy spot actually does revive him…
Every morning I take the dog for a walk or a very slow undignified run which sets me up for the day.
Spending time over good food and wine with really good friends.
Laura W says
I was out for lunch a few days ago and someone asked me what I do ‘for fun’. I stalled and then got completely embarrassed because I couldn’t think of anything. Literally nothing. So I blurted out some shit about not having time for anything other than work and kids. I felt like a total idiot, so much so that I wailed to my husband a few days later that I am boring and I’ve nothing about me because I don’t do anything ‘for fun’.
But then I just read this and it made me realise that there’s a whole heap of shit that I love to do. Reading, listening to crime podcasts until my ears bleed and can take no more, pottering around the house when it’s quiet, completing a list of mundane tasks…the list is actually endless. Now ask me again what I do for fun and I’ll give you the right answer. I was more concerned about sounding interesting to someone I barely know than what really matters to me. That’s where I pull my energy from. That’s what keeps me going and gets me up in the mornings. Who gives a shit if it’s not jumping out of planes or practicing yoga at 5.30 in the morning?
Sitting on the coach watching a movie with my kids, having breakfast somewhere, sunny walks in the fall, sweaty workouts, going to the movies, have to make a list of more of this as a reminder!
What a great question. I’d never thought about my inner energy like that before. I’ve devoured each of the replies above and i think just hearing such new perspectives and finding out others out there share my thoughts and feelings is what energises me. When I was young I was more of a ‘car battery’ but as I’ve got older I am more of a ‘mobile battery’ (great analogy) but if I spend too much time alone I get to overthinking and that drains my energy faster – so having a community of other thoughtful types to dip into and explore ideas and being able to see I’m not the only one who feels a certain way about something , that gives me energy.
I don’t know if that made any sense but thanks anyway!
Coming to this a bit late, but wanted to say that I found the comments on the post really reassuring and inspiring. I used to do a lot of socialising, but since having my daughter (she’s two and a half) I really feel the need to recharge with some quiet domestic pottering/child-squidging time in the evenings and at weekends. I work with mostly women who are a bit younger and don’t have kids, so they’re out every night at talks, the theatre, increasingly extreme exercise classes etc. That’s just not me, and it took a while to find the confidence to say, ‘I made something delicious from the new Ottolenghi book, watched University Challenge with my husband then went to bed at 9.30 and that’s where I find the energy to get up at 5.30 for work every day, thanks for asking.’
Basically yes – I’m very much all for acceptance that everyone is different and even what I need varies from day to day. I do love to see my friends but it’s a more select bunch these days, and I know exactly who and what sort of night will make me feel energised and positive instead of drained and anxious.
Sarah I really identify with this! My kid is 14 months and in this weather all I want to do is snuggle up with him and watch Disney films whilst dinner cooks in the slow cooker and I look forward to my 7pm glass of wine. Just doesn’t sound as impressive as the theatre and a power wave class when you say it out loud does it?! x