On personality, emotional labor, and surviving the holidays.

I just finished listening to an old podcast where Dan Pink interviews Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

I’ve read (and loved) Quiet before, but here on the cusp of the holiday season—for my own survival’s sake—I’m making myself revisit a concept I learned of from Cain: emotional labor.

In the podcast, Cain explains that introverts can be extremely, genuinely social—even for long periods of time—and enjoy being so. But for true introverts, consistently engaging in all this extroverting (the verb) over a period of days or weeks is exhausting.

This phenomenon has a name: it’s called “emotional labor,” and it’s what you experience any time you project (or, to put it not-so-nicely, fake) an emotion or attitude that doesn’t come easily.

In Quiet, Cain describes emotional labor as “the effort we make to control and change our own emotions,” and says it’s “associated with stress, burnout, and even physical symptoms like an increase in cardiovascular disease.”

That doesn’t sound good, but it nevertheless rings true: I’m no stranger to the peculiar introvert exhaustion she describes. And while I hate the idea that I work to project emotions I don’t really feel, I have to admit I do this all the time—especially as an introvert.

There are many, many times every day when I make myself get interested in my kid’s art project instead of heading out for a walk by myself, or tell my kids they can dance to the Laurie Berkner Christmas album for the third time in a row when I would prefer the quiet.

These issues are top of mind right now because the holidays are especially taxing for introverts. It’s taken me years to realize that as much as I enjoy the holiday festivities, they’re incredibly draining.

Seeing old friends, visiting family, packing and traveling, and the kids’ contagious excitement are all good things, and I love them in moderation. But during this season it’s all too easy for me to get seriously unbalanced—with too much extroverting, not enough introverting—and that takes its toll. I still need to remind myself to plan accordingly: to take that walk by myself, go to bed early, or curl up for an hour with a movie or a good book.

Do you relate to this experience of emotional labor? How do you manage it during the holidays?

P.S. I wrote a book about personality! In Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, I walk you through 7 different frameworks, explaining the basics in a way you can actually understand, sharing personal stories about how what I learned made a difference in my life, and showing you how it could make a difference in yours, as well.


Leave A Comment
  1. Sarah Jane says:

    Yes! I never thought of myself as an introvert until I started reading your blog. Thank you for helping me get to know myself better. Wishing you a good dose of quiet this holiday season!

  2. Marie says:

    I completely relate to this. In fact, I bought the family theater tickets today, and to get the deepest discount rate, I had to seat myself a couple rows away. I confess I felt a small thrill at sitting alone–no elbows, no questions, and the freedom to completely concentrate on the play. Rare indeed.

    I dread my office holiday party the most, and I work in a small company with great people. I just have no desire to spend a Saturday night in a chilly bar chatting about whatever. I deal with this by attending only every other year or so (unfortunately, this is an “on” year).

    This post came at a great time, because if I don’t plan to carve out alone time–as in making appointments with myself–the next six weeks will leave me grumpy and exhausted.

    • Jane Wrenn says:

      What I would give to be able to pack up Christmas and go visit family. My parents were older when I was born so my children were in elementary school when they died. My husband’s father had died in his 40s and his mother passed away young too. They do have memories though when it seemed like Christmas and Thanksgiving were just a long line of family get togethers. We lived in our hometown and had a few years of wonderful times at church, school, parades (my Dad was Santa when my kids were toddlers). Then we moved a few states away and my parents died and my kids grew up and I just long for Christmas’ as a little girl with a lousy stocking with oranges and peppermint and chocolate covered cherries. Always soap on a rope from my brothers, and Santa would bring a doll or Barbie and 1 or 2 surprises. I am trying to make memories for my grandchildren, traditions, and special gifts. I hope I can live long enough to instill in them my love of family and Christmas. I will have all my children and grands on Christmas Eve. I hope if I start feeling like the Grinch, something will pull at my heart and remind me the preciousness of time and family.

    • Anne says:

      I personally think she’s less annoying than a lot of the stuff out there. But I’ll warn you: her music is pretty darn catchy. It can stick in your head for DAYS!

  3. Laura says:

    Hi, Anne.

    You have also inspired me to look more at my own personality type. I am an INFJ former high school teacher who currently works with high school seniors for our local community college. My husband, who is an ENFJ, happily spends time at parties and hanging out with work friends. I remember being in TEARS a couple of years ago on the way to our old neighbors’ annual open house Christmas party – I just didn’t have the emotional reserves in place to go. I was happy for him to attend; I just wanted to go home and read a book.

    The holidays have gotten more like this for me as our kids have grown. We visited my grown daughter and son-in-law the Thanksgiving before last in NYC. When she asked me what I wanted to make for the event, I suggested crock pot chili or really good sandwich fixings. She is also an ENFJ and was not amused.

    As I get older, my alone time has become a much bigger priority for me, and it allows me to handle and actually enjoy my family time.

    Thanks for another great post!

  4. MiChal says:

    Yes on all counts. I’ve had Quiet on my bookshelf since it first came out but have yet to read it. (Sigh). Are all INFPs strong introverts? I wonder.

    • Tina B says:

      I’m planning to use my holiday quiet time to read the book. I’ve had it a while and must make time to read it. I’ve learned a lot about introverts just from this blog.

  5. Bekki says:

    People + extra stuff (holiday decorations) = emotional overload. I began replacing Christmas “decorating” with simply replacing linens and artwork in every room with a Christmasy equivalent. With the exception of my nativity scene and tree (which replaces a large recliner for the holidays) I don’t have any extra stuff. I have to be super strict about 90 minutes of down/alone time every afternoon for every person, too.

    • Meg says:

      Great point! Nothing sets my anxiety off like boxes of holiday decor! Oh my, it is soooo overwhelming to me! It took me a long time to realize why I am not crazy about the holidays and now that I know it’s because everything is overwhelming to me and as a kid, my family never understood so I was ridiculed for not wanting to be part of busy holiday activities. Like you, I decorate sparingly and cut myself slack if I want to stay home rather than go to a party!

  6. Tina B says:

    When I travel to spend time with my family at Christmas (or any time), I always get a hotel room rather than staying with someone. This is my way of ensuring that I get the “down time” that I need so I enjoy the time with them that I have.

  7. Katia says:

    Emotional labour is challenging. Depending on my mood, I can get out and socialize for two days in a row, but then crash. I have become very careful about avoiding over-scheduling during the holidays. I used to be strict with myself about making time to see every single person I possibly could see over the holidays, but then the holidays would fly by and I felt like I had no time to rest. These days, I’m simplifying. This means leaving my in-laws’ home as soon as we start to feel tired. It also means telling some friends that we will just have to see them after the holidays. When we do get together with friends, it’s for a shorter period of time. I am learning to let go of the guilt factor that inevitably arises when I exercise these choices and the power to say ‘No.’

    • Anne says:

      I relate to this. I feel terrific during all the hustle and bustle of the season, right up until the point where I crash, HARD. I’ve learned to be careful about backing off before I reach this point (not that I’m always successful).

  8. Deanna says:

    Everyone gets a book at Christmas (ok, every holidy 🙂 ), and I make sure to give myself something that I can’t wait to read. Looking forward to Christmas afternoon and reading quietly is ray of sunshine when it is all too much. I used to decorate more when I worked part-time, but now that I am full-time plus kids’ events it is just more than I can do. One day it will be quieter and I will have more emotional energy to spare to decorate again.

  9. Carol says:

    Your post made me think this might be a good place to get a tiny bit of advice. Not only do we have the holidays coming up, but our son is getting married on December 29. We have a bit of family coming in, but most are only staying a few days. However, my brother and kids (including a 5 and 2 year old) want to come and stay for 5-6 days (3 days past the wedding) and he is offended that we have a schedule and don’t want them to stay that long. I am exhausted just thinking about having to deal with them once the wedding is over. All my kids are grown and we don’t have a kid-friendly house. I just want some quiet time with my daughter after that. Any suggestions on how to not cause a total family meltdown over this? Thanks!

    • liz n. says:

      Sticky situation.

      If you can afford to, help pay for the cost of a hotel for them. Cost may be a factor in why they want to stay with you.

      I have a similar issue with one of my brothers, who wants all of the family to do all of the things all of the time, and it’s just draining on the rest of us. “Gosh, I”m sorry, we won’t be able to,” without giving excuses or reasons, has curbed some of that problem.

      You can’t keep other people from being offended or upset when you can’t accommodate what they want. Sometimes, the best you can do is nicely offer an alternative. Frankly, in this case, it’s a bit presumptuous of your bro to assume or expect you to accommodate four or five people in addition to hosting the holidays AND a wedding.

      Hope it works out peacefully, and congratulations on your son’s wedding!

      • Carol says:

        Thank you! Presumptuous is a good word. He thrives on chaos and loves for everyone to be together ALL the time. Despite telling me he would understand if it was too much stress, the minute I asked for them to come for a specific time frame he lost his mind and now I am selfish. So, the meltdown occurred. But I would rather have his wrath than have my husband and family be stressed and uncomfortable the week of the wedding.

    • Anne says:

      Yikes, that is a tough one, and if family members are already offended that’s not a great start. For those who aren’t drained by big events and house guests, it’s very difficult for them to understand why anyone else would be. It may be helpful to emphasize how much you love them and love seeing them, and how important it is to do it in a way that lets you actually engage and enjoy their company.

      (Are there any fun activities for kids where you are? In my region the zoo is popular during Christmas vacation, as are the local museums and botannical garden. Maybe the kids could head off on adventures with their parents?)

      • Carol says:

        Thanks! It’s a miserable situation all around. I don’t think they are going to come, which makes me sad, but I know I would have been completely stressed out trying to have them all here on top of everything. I knew I would rather risk offending him vs. making my husband unhappy for days. Priorities!

    • Meg says:

      Yikes, tough one! I don’t have any advice on how to deal with what to say to them, but I did want to point something out that will hopefully make you feel less guilty! If you’re like me and get suckered in to letting them stay with you, remember to stand firm. Chances are you will feel resentful and possibly act this way towards them. As hard as it is to say no, you’re better off saying no straight up rather than letting them stay with you and possibly acting angry towards them. You have every right to say no!! This is an incredibly busy time for you and the last thing you need are house guests!!! Good luck!

      • Carol says:

        Thanks! I’ve received a lot of support and so I feel like I’m not the ogre I’m being made out to be. It’s just so frustrating that rather than my brother being supportive and saying, “great, we would love to come be with you for those 4 days,” he’s made it into a federal case. I doubt they will come now–and probably better if they don’t because there is definitely some resentment. (That will have to get worked through eventually.) :-\

        • liz n says:

          Not accommodating an unreasonable request is hardly being an ogre. I suggest reducing your stress level by spending about 1% of your time trying to communicate with your brother. You have other, more important things going on for the next six weeks.

          Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, and best wishes for the rest of the holidays and the wedding!

  10. Zelda says:

    On a personality test I score a 10 on the “I” (introvert) part. My family thinks I am nuts when I say people, all people, exhaust me. Maybe I should get them all this book for Christmas, unfortunately most of them are not readers. Luckily I am still single, so at the end of the week I retreat into my home and don’t re-emerge until Monday.

    For the holidays I always take leave for the whole of December, I make sure that I have enough supplies for the entire month – I can’t get myself to go to the shops in that madness. My birthday is on the 22nd of Dec, and my brother and his girlfriend comes to stay from then until the 26th; thereafter I go back into hiding (recharge mode) until the first Monday in Jan, when its back to work.

  11. Allison says:

    YES, YES and more YES!!! Even though I am an ENFJ and I DO enjoy the “people” side of the holidays, if I do not get a good dose of “quiet,” then I am a MESS. My husband figured this out about me long before I did, bless him, and he has always been very good about giving me “breathing space” no matter what else was going on. Now that we are Empty Nesters, I am looking forward to the Season, because I know there will be a better mix of times alone and times with those I love.

  12. Susan B. says:

    I had a really nice few hour visit with two friends yesterday and came home exhausted. You just put words and meaning to why I felt this way. I can now better prepare for future outings. Thank you!

  13. Anna says:

    I have seven kids and a huge family, so my holidays are nuts. I use nursing time, diaper changing time, temper tantrum time, your-shoe-is-untied time to just get away from face-to-face anxiety-ridden conversation, while still being in the boiling pot of craziness. Sometimes I wash dishes by myself to be alone and not talk to anyone. Many times I just sit down in a more secluded place where I can see whats going on and just use the excuse – “I love watching”. It’s all about survival during the events. My down time comes in the days after.-sometimes weeks…

  14. Yes! I’m about to go to my parents for 5 days for Thanksgiving. We’ll have 9 people packed into their house, and it’s overwhelming for me every year. I can get super cranky if I don’t get enough time to myself. I am taking plenty of books and will sneak into my room at least once a day to recharge. 🙂

  15. I can’t wait to read “Quiet”. One of my favorite TED talks is on the value of introverts. It’s funny because I’m an innkeeper who talks to people in person and on the phone all day and solves problems and helps people have a good time. And yet when I’m done with my day, I am tired of talking and my friends and sweetheart want to interact with me and I often don’t have it in me. Looking forward to finding some good tips in “Quiet” to deal with this part of me.

  16. Uhm, yes and yes. Which is why I’m glad we don’t actually do much for the holidays. Seeing my mom? Totally okay. Seeing the whole family? I’ve had my fill after about two hours. Seeing multiple parts of the family in a short amount of time? Ugh, is there a way to sign out from that adventure?
    I’ve come to a point, though, where I feel that my family and friends are familiar enough with the fact that I’m not social and just don’t “pretend” any more. If I’m ready to be done, I will mentally check out. It’s self-preservation. And if they don’t like it, well, that sucks for them – it’s who I am, and I tried for as much as I could, and they’re lucky I showed up in the first place xD

  17. Colleen says:

    Oh man. Yes! I relate. I relate so much. I’ve often thought that the holidays bring about a bit of depression in me, but this makes a little more sense – they just stretch me so much outside of what my soul can handle. Maybe it’s a little of both!

  18. I’m an extrovert (ESTJ) but I find that it’s the particular types of people/ conversation/ events that drain even me. With in-laws, I can take about 4 hours max then I want to go!

    I have a good friend, an INFP, who goes away with their entire family (20 plus people) every Thanksgiving. I once asked her how she copes and she said most of them are introverts and they all just disappear when they need to, and no-one gets offended or cross about that 🙂

  19. Yes! As much as I enjoy spending time with our extended family over holidays or vacations, I am always totally exhausted by the emotional labor. This year I am going to be intentional about giving myself some introvert time each day. I am hoping to go on a run, go to bed early with a book, or just get up early and take a long shower. Anything for a bit of quiet time!

  20. This post really resonates with me, as did Susan’s book. My husband and I keep Christmas very simple for our family, celebrating the liturgies but avoiding too many parties and, especially, avoiding stores as much as possible! (All that STUFF!) We’re both INFJs, so when we do get together with family, we make time for ourselves by slipping out to change a baby’s diaper or check on another child–even these little moments can save us.

  21. Sarah R says:

    I had an almost complete mental collapse in Christmas 2013 and while it was awful, I am determined not to allow that to happen again. I have two children, work full time, and have in-laws with challenging personalities (I’ll leave it at that 😉 )

    I am getting better about planning ahead so I don’t overschedule us, and I make sure to allow down time each day. We no longer plan all-day festivities. And best of all, we leave for our vacation home in Florida on 12/29.

  22. Anne says:

    Did everyone see that Adele/Thanksgiving SNL skit? We just need to practice the lyrics! Haha! But, no, really…..I’m already talking myself down about anxiety-producing situations that could crop up Thursday. I need a plan: 1) Know when to leave 2) Pack extra snacks 3) Go outside with kids if possible 4) Go to bathroom to breathe for 5 minutes 5) Pray to the Holy Spirit 6) Breathe 😉

  23. Gina says:

    Oh Yeah!!! Definitely need some quiet time to unwind and recharge. All those Christmas things sound great – until I actually have to do them.

  24. Rayni Peavy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! This is EXACTLY what I experience as an introvert and why it’s SO HARD for me to have people stay with me or to stay in other people’s homes….especially for days on end! It’s usually emotionally exhausting and overwhelming after one day. And if you add onto that being in a home that has constant noise and talking, it’s like I literally, physiologically can’t handle it and start to emotionally shut down. But I don’t want to appear rude so I fake being nice and interested in what people are saying and that is doubly exhausting! I have heard a lot about Susan Cain’s book but haven’t read it. I think I will read it now.

  25. Liza says:

    I am very much an introvert and post-holiday exhaustion is a real thing. I’ve hosted Christmas for my family for the past 10? 12? years. On any given year, at any given time in the 2 weeks before and after Christmas, there is between 7 and 25 people (including the 5 in my immediate family) in my house. Most of them actually staying overnight.

    I genuinely love having everyone and don’t mind the chaos of all the activity. I don’t think I’m projecting (faking) anything that I’m not. Well, I take that back. Most of the time I love the chaos in my house. There are days that I have to take a deep breath, tell myself “It’s showtime” and then jump in to the madness. Even in the years that things are calmer, it takes me about three weeks to recover.

    Last year was the first year that nobody came for Christmas. It was so nice and calm and peaceful and exactly what our family needed. But it was also kinda boring.

  26. K says:

    I am definitely an introvert, and Christmas can be very difficult for me. Both my family and my husbands family are very large, so for 48hrs I’m surrounded by lots of noisy people. I often end up with a migraine at the end of it all. I’m still working on managing it, because the whole rest of both families are raging extroverts and they just don’t get it haha.

  27. Rebecca says:

    We’ve traveled 15+ hours the past several years so that both sides of the family could see the only grandkids. Because of funds we had to stay with family and I have never coped well with that. This year I proclaimed, back in January, that we weren’t traveling and anyone who wanted to see us could travel instead (although they’re still trying to get us to travel a short distance because another relative is nearby. I said no, because boundaries, 15+ drives with infants, it’s so your turn?).

  28. Michelle says:

    Yes! I’ll also add that if we have introverted young kids (I’ve got one introvert and two extroverts!), we should also be aware of their needs this holiday season. I try very hard to read my son’s cues and get him away from the action and into a quiet place if I see he needs it as he’s too young to recognize his limits. Being aware of both of our needs makes our travels and holiday season go more smoothly!

  29. Kerri says:

    Thank you for this reminder! It always helps to hear it from someone else. Recently when my boyfriend and I were making plans for our vacation, (we’re both teachers so have a good break at Christmas), he said, “let’s make sure you have lots of staring-at-the-wall time.” I was so grateful that he thought to work that into our plans, because he knows how necessary it is for me!

  30. Denise says:

    I think I’ve pretty much decided to forgo family Christmas this year. It’s been absolutely horrible for me for the past few years and no one seems to understand my need to just chill out for a few hours.

    It’s just too stressful of a time for me. I’ve decided to take the time for me, to recharge and reflect, on all the things I’ve learned about myself this past year (especially after reading Quiet..). I’m 43 years old, I have no children. So I’m gifting myself peace and quiet this year. 🙂 Thanks for the blog!

  31. Abigail says:

    I can totally relate to this. I just recently moved out from my parents but still live in the area. My mom wanted me to stay at their house with all six other guests coming to visit for Christmas. I was able to tell her I need some alone time in the morning to be able to handle large group time the rest of the day, so will start out the day at my place and join them at lunch. I feel like I am definitely growing in knowing how (and that I need) to plan for introvert time, thanks in part to this blog and how intentional you try to be about talking about subjects like emotional recharging. It sure does make it hard when over half of my family is wired the complete opposite and wants to spend ALL the time ALL together, not even in the smaller sized groups I’d prefer at times.

  32. Jenni says:

    God bless you for coming up the the phrase ’emotional labor’ which I had previously thought of as “it’s so much work to be nice for this many hours.” Emotional labor is a much kinder to myself way to put it! It’s just SO hard. This explains why I always feel so drained and tired. Thank you, Anne!

  33. Leigh Kramer says:

    I have always loved Christmas and all of our family traditions so I was shocked to see how drained I became the first Christmas after moving to Nashville. Instead of going to family celebrations and then going home to my own place as I had since grad school, I was staying with my parents. And I was also trying to catch up with all of my friends and family in only a few days. Now when I go home, I make sure to build in introvert time. It’s a much better balance and I don’t leave feeling completely wiped out.

  34. Becky says:

    Wow. It is nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way and to have a name for it! I never really pinpointed the certain draining feeling I associate with family vacations–but now I realize that it is because it is very hard to get alone when we’re all sharing one hotel room. I’ve always felt guilty for not wanting to spend 100% of the time with relatives when visiting them (especially because we only get to see them every two years or so.) This has been very eye opening–Thank you.

  35. I never considered the holidays in this way before, but it’s so true! Especially right now that I’m pregnant, just getting through dinnertime with my exuberant children has been hard because I feel like my emotional reserves are maxed out by that point. The touching/laughing/constant demands is so hard when I feel so drained!

  36. I so hear this, and it’s tough with all the extra pressure and activity of the holidays. My husband and I always stay in a hotel when we visit my in-laws – it’s easier for a multitude of reasons – but it becomes more challenging to find time for ourselves when we’re with my family. Thanks for the reminder to build in that introvert time, Anne.

  37. Kellie says:

    YES. I’ve been very aware of my introvertedness (it’s hard to mistake, haha) but have only in the past 3 or so years really been aware and taken steps to try to not get overwhelmed with emotional labor.

    Holidays with my husband’s family are a struggle simply because it’s a lot of people together, all the time. 7 kids, 2-3 dogs, and 8 adults. I love all of them and everyone gets along but I’ve had to recognize when I need an introvert break and some quiet. My husband actually has been great about this, nicely suggesting when he can see I’m getting a bit overwhelmed!

  38. Annette Silveira says:

    Not only am I hosting dinner this year, but I have a houseguest from Wednesday through Saturday. My introverted self is having a bit of a panic attack.

  39. Sarah says:

    Totally! Every year after Halloween I start to feel this dread coming on.
    The social obligations are definitely a huge factor, but also the “stuff”. I am not a gift giver (at all) and tend to resent receiving gifts as well as the obligation of giving them. Christmas creates so much clutter between the gifts, trash, and decor I become completely overwhelmed and have an enormous desire to gather everything in sight and head straight to the dumpster.

  40. Sarah Christy says:

    What a great post! I struggle with burnout issues as I am caregiver to several people. Certainly reminded me to take care of myself before I am a mess of tears and “I can’t do this” hysteria. I am retired and VERY thankful that I don’t have to go to the annual office Christmas party with the pressure to be “fun-loving”! Thanks, Anne,for the reminder and encouragement.

  41. The struggle is real! Especially when you’re staying with family in a crowded house…and little kids to look after. This is the first year we’ll be spending the holidays in our own house (we recently moved to the town where our family lives)…and I’m looking forward to socializing with the ability to leave and go home to my own house 🙂

  42. Carly says:

    I SO relate to this. We’re doing 10 days of travelling between families around Christmas & New Years without a break in between and I’m getting anxious just thinking about it. Any tips you have on getting in some down time to re-charge (especially when you’re the guest) would be so helpful.

  43. Christine says:

    I loved this because it perfectly explains my mixed feelings about hosting out-of-town company… I LOVE seeing family, but I feel absolutely and totally spent afterwards.

    Cheers to stealing quiet moments over the holidays! 🙂

  44. Amy T. says:

    Hi Anne, I am a newish fan of your blig and website. When I tell people I don’t like Christmas, they look at me like I’m crazy! I actually do like many elements of the season, but if often adds up to be overwheling to me. The dark evenings and anniversary of my mom’s death are extra challenging. It seems to help me to keep the decor simple and to get rid of things I don’t love. It also seems to help to get a head start on the shopping. I also love to schedule “down” days after a party or concert. Thank you for an insightful blog post!

  45. Elizabeth Smith says:

    “There are many, many times every day when I make myself get interested in my kid’s art project instead of heading out for a walk by myself, or tell my kids they can dance to the Laurie Berkner Christmas album for the third time in a row when I would prefer the quiet.“

    I am an extrovert and I consistently experienced similar feelings. I think this is just a part of being a parent and loving your kids. Projecting an emotion I am not currently feeling is a part of serving family, friends, neighbors and even strangers. Yes, extroverts might find being with people easier because of the way we are wired, but having to set aside my own likes and dislikes for the sake of someone else is felt by all.

  46. Clara says:

    As an INTJ, I relate to the feelings you describe in your post. I had not considered, until I read it here, that it’s not simply interactions themselves that can drain introverts, but the work that it requires to project emotions that we can’t really own.

    As for the holidays–or any other time, frankly–I’ve borrowed a concept from another introvert. She thinks of having a certain number of “chits” to spend during any given week, then tries to allocate them across the week so that she doesn’t spend them all, and so that she has “breathing space” in between. For example, if she’s got a regular every-other-week committee meeting on Tuesday evenings, she tries her best not to schedule anything on Wednesday evenings.

    Since I’ve started dong this–it’s not easy, but it’s worthwhile–I’ve found that it gives me pleasure during a particularly busy day simply to look at my calendar and see that I have a clear evening the following day.

    P.S. Anne, I’m a bookseller at Malaprop’s and met you recently when you were at the bookstore for your author tour. Now that you know I’m an introvert, you know why when Melanie McNair tried to get me to speak up about one of my fave books of the year, The Essex Serpent, I declined 🙂 By the way, I’m another personality-framework enthusiast and I thoroughly enjoyed your new book.

  47. Barbara says:

    I do not have people kids, so I have less of that. But, I try to balance the extroverting with the staying in and puttering about my apartment. And listening to music. Or meditating. I have a perfectionistic thing, which I need to dial back. But, I suggest to think about what is most meaningful to you in the holidays, and accept that there are things that you’re not going to do. I’ve given up christmas cards for example. But, it still stresses me out. All the social media pics of christmas decorations kinda overwhelm me. I need to occasionally step back. B

  48. Oh my, I can so relate to this needing time away or by myself when surrounded by people. This summer we spent two weeks on vacation. The only time I was ever by myself was in the shower. It was a chore to stay cheerful all the time. Finally the night before we headed home I finally got everyone out the door to make a dinner run without me. Ahhh. Silence for 45 minutes. I learned early on in our marriage that I need quiet time, or down time, or I get cranky. Sometimes, though, it is as rare as unbreathed air, like on vacation.

  49. Tanya says:

    Hi Anne,

    So enjoy your podcast and blog! On this topic, I admit that I had an opposite-ish experience this Thanksgiving. I am an extrovert (entp) married to an introvert. As I have gotten older, I’m not a strong introvert, and in fact, I’m kind of a bivert (or ambivert??). But, this past weekend has shown me that I truly am an extrovert. He likes quiet and really wants to “control” socializing and social events. In an effort to spend more downh time with our small family (we have one 9 year old child), I toned down Thanksgiving weekend this year and hung around the house a bit more than we normally would. (Normally, I would keep my daughter and husband pretty busy with social events and other goings on.) And I have to admit, I felt kind of bored and lonely, even though our family was together. Then, at the end, my husband said this was such a great thanksgiving b/c it wasn’t full of activity. It’s hard to balance various needs when you are in the midst of raising a family, and happily, I couldn’t believe how much more I got done staying at home! I am fully decorated for Christmas, the laundry was done, and we did have friends over one evening for an enjoyable game night. But I do wish it had felt a bit more “full” for me.
    For Christmas, my husband and I have agreed that he will do as much as he wants and I will do some things with him, some by myself or with our daughter and friends, so we all get some of what we want. (By the way, I also think it’s the nature of the socializing. My husband has a bigger reserve for small family or friend gatherings, but not as big for less intimate settings. And I love a big party…lol! :))

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