Back when I was a single gal, footloose and fancy free, I was always, always, ALWAYS BUSY. I said yes to so many things at a time that just thinking about it now makes my head spin. And my extrovert lifestyle was good, usually.
I have always been a highly extroverted person, and living alone or with similarly busy roommates prompted me to seek out an active social life. In addition to working, I went out with friends constantly, volunteered weekly at church, and said yes to almost everything in between. I hated to miss anything – I have always struggled big time with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Being an extrovert was a huge part of who I was – I prided myself on being a socially dependable little butterfly, flitting about from shindig to shindig. I loved it about me.
When I crossed over into the wonderful world of motherhood, I became slowly aware that I would not be able to keep up the same level of activity I once had. Before I was even engaged to my now-husband, I found myself disappointed when I didn’t get over to his house in time to see my now-daughter before bed. You can’t get a lot of socializing in with a self-imposed 8 PM curfew. I began to adjust and slowly but surely had to start saying “no” to some things, just so I could manage to work full time, indulge my extrovert self, and then see my people before it was time to head to bed and start all over again.
And now: flash forward. I am a wife and stepmom, respectively, to my aforementioned people. I struggle, now, because I placed a solid amount of importance in the aforementioned tendency toward busyness. It was my identity. I was at every social gathering, rarely missing out – and now, I attend far fewer than I once did. I’m lucky if I make it to volunteer once every couple of months. Don’t get me wrong – I’m still BUSY, and I am still very much an extrovert. But my evenings and weekends are full in much different ways than they once were. Recently this hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt guilty for missing birthday parties and reducing my commitments.
I felt less than I had once been. Ashamed to realize that I simply can’t do it all. Wondering how to be my extrovert self with such a priority shift in my life.
I miss it, sometimes – the freedom to say yes to activities with abandon. It was a fun way to spend my days, back then, but a major part of my guilty feeling is that I don’t really miss that freedom as much as I expected I would. I am extroverted, still, but now I live with a man who is my social #1, and a girl who relies on me to be around to sing lullabies at bedtime, volunteer in her classroom, and say yes when she begs for a last-minute playdate with her pals. I am still with people all. the. time. But I have to be choosier about what I make time to do socially. My FOMO is still a struggle – but if I’m honest, I fear missing out on bedtime with my girl and Saturday nights at home with my husband more than the things I once did. My availability is less. My identity has had to shift. My life is still full of fun and service and meaning, but it looks quite a bit different than before.
My time belongs to different people than it did before, and the reality is that much of what I have to give stays in-house. I will not compare myself to the self I was 5-years-ago, because that’s not fair to either of us.
It was a good life then. It’s a good life now. Full and fun. Still achieving freak-levels of extroversion. And on those rare occasions I do make it out to party? You better believe I will remain the most socially dependable little butterfly you ever did see.