I’m a pretty big extravert. Huge, really. One of my top five Strengths is Woo. My mother likes to say that if I’m in a room with strangers for too long that pretty soon I’ll have a social calendar organized, new friends made, and folks connected to each other. I’m good at making friends. My grandfather had this gift as well so it’s reasonable to assume that I come by it honestly. 🙂 I might not talk to total strangers as willingly as he seemed to, but give me 40 years and maybe I will then. More often than not my energy comes from being around people and having a good time.
Sometimes, however, peace for me is not being around people. There can be too much of a good thing. I’m at this Student Affairs conference and one of my goals for the conference this year was to be more relationship focused, rather than being so tunnel-vision minded about attending sessions. It’s been going well for me, but it comes at a price. There has been little time for reflection, processing, and being silent. Currently I’m in my room with no music, no talking, no noise except the keyboard and it is blissful. In 8 minutes I will walk over to a reception where I will kick my extravert into gear one more time and get back to the business of relationship building. I love relationships, and I’m not knockin’ ’em. But sometimes, the silence is peaceful – even for an extravert.
I’ve taken so much information in over the last 2.5 days – either from educational sessions, long talks with people, or snippets of introductions with other folks. The silence gives me a chance to mull it over and reflect. Too much dissonance with noise, networking, group work, introductions, and so forth has left me just a smidge unsettled. So in this moment, I am thankful for the silence. It allows me to regroup and prepare myself for round 46. It also reminds me that in my regular life that I need to make a space for silence and reflection. My regular life may not be as noisy as a conference with 4,500 of my closest Student Affairs buddies. However, there is no less need for processing and reflecting on what I’m learning, where I’m wanting to go, and how I want to get there.
I wrote a blog post recently for my Student Affairs colleagues on balance and there is much discussion on whether balance even exists. Y’all, I believe it does – it just exists differently for each of us. And you can’t have noise all the time, nor can you have silence all the time because then you start to take the one you have all the time for granted. Make a place in your life for both, I think it’s good for you. And in my case, a little extra silence brings me peace – so maybe it will for you too.
And I’m off to make new friends! Ready or not, here I come!