Monday, January 23, 2012

The Downside of Being an Extrovert

DISCLAIMER: This is a long post. And I talk about my dating life. Proceed at your own risk :) 

I am an extrovert. No, I am an extreme extrovert...with every fiber of my being. This serves me very well in my professional life. As part of our Monday Morning Management Team Meeting, (Mmmtm...beat-box it, you know you want to) three of my coworkers and I bought the book Strengths Finder 2.0, took the 170+ question assessment and have started delving into our strengths and what they mean for how we should be the leaders of Housing Partnership. Here are my five strength areas, with the brief description. 

Restorative: People who are especially talented in the Restorative theme are adept at dealing with problems. They are good at figuring out what is wrong and resolving it.
Individualization: People who are especially talented in the Individualization theme are intrigued with the unique qualities of each person. They have a gift for figuring out how people who are different can work together productively.
Woo: People who are especially talented in the Woo theme love the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over. They derive satisfaction from breaking the ice and making a connection with another person. 
Positivity: People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Learner: People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

Ok. So there's the proof that I'm an extrovert. Three out of five strengths are directly related to wanting to make connections with, understand and in general be with people. Like I said, perfect for my Public Relations and Development career.

However, being such an extreme extrovert can be difficult in my personal life. For one, I have an incredibly difficult, borderline impossible, time being alone. Sitting at home without anyone around can truly lead to anxiety for me. My usual solution is to go shopping, even just to the grocery store, so I can be around people. Let me tell you, my bank account does not always appreciate this response.

I've been trying to work on this and force myself to stay home and just CHILL and learn how to deal with it. Take Saturday for example...I'd call it a mixed success. I woke up around 8ish. What was my first response? Text a friend to see if they wanted to have a chill day watching tv/movies. Seriously, Crystal? Ok. Then I chatted with JB until she left for her goddaughter's birthday. Alright, empty house now. I shoveled, realized how nice it was outside and threw out a call on Facebook for someone to ski/snowshoe with. No takers. So I was left to my own devices, with 5 hours until I needed to be at work, and an empty house. I am happy to announce: I did it. I spent those last few hours by myself, without even so much as a texting conversation with anyone. So the day started off rocky, and then I overcame my anxiety and chilled. But let me tell you, I have never been so happy to get to work! PEOPLE. SOCIAL INTERACTION.

You're probably thinking: "Crystal, not being able to sit at home alone all day isn't that big of a deal." You're right. But there's more. Let's look at how this affects my dating life. (Go ahead and groan...stop reading here if you did). According to that wonderful Strengths Finder 2.0 assessment, I love to make connections with people, I care about them, and I want to make them happy. Add that to my extreme extrovert-ism...that's an intense combination.

I recently had someone very close to me tell me that part of the reason that I may have trouble dating is because I am so freaking intimidating. Uhh...I'm just barely 5 feet tall? What's there to be intimated by? Her response: I am confident, I know who I am and what I want, I have a successful, professional career that has me already making a name for myself in this community and I'm only 23. Oh, and I'm an extreme extrovert. Well then.

So here begins my attempt to find a balance between toning down my personality (at least in the beginning) so as not to scare guys away,  but also not losing who I am. And please, don't get into the "If someone doesn't like you for who you are, that's their problem" or "Don't change yourself for a man" spiels. That's not what I'm talking about doing. I'm not making any fundamental changes. I am still going to be an extrovert, I'm still going to value people and care about them and want to make meaningful connections. I'm still going to wear my heart on my sleeve. I just need to tone it down a bit so there's room for someone else in my world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Goals...As Promised

A few posts back I said my goal was to have 2 or 3 goals done by the end of the holiday season. Well, the end is here. And I have a couple new goals!

Live With Intention. This one is based on one of my favorite quotes:
"Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is." - Mary Ann Radmacher 
I know. It is a pretty hefty goal, with a lot to it. But in its most basic form...it just means living for me. And that's what 2012 is going to be about. I'm not going to let other people call the shots in my life, I will be the only person in control of my emotions and my actions and I will have fun and live as if this is all there is. How will I measure this? I think the most important thing that will come from this goal is an increased self-awareness. I will need to be very in tune with how I'm feeling about my decisions and choices and actions. If I'm happy with what I'm doing, I'm succeeding. Easy enough.

Be Well. Another broad goal, but with little pieces that I can measure individually.
  • Eat better, live better. I saw a pin this weekend that said something along the lines of "If your food can go bad, it is good for you. If your food can't go bad, it is bad for you." That makes a lot of sense. I am lucky in that I really LOVE fruits and vegetables. And I don't need them dipped or dressed in anything. I love to eat just raw, naked fruits and vegetables. I could eat them at every meal and be happy. However, I don't do it that often. But I'm going to make an effort to revamp my diet a bit. I don't really believe in diets - I think they're hard to follow which makes it stressful and then it doesn't last long. What I'm looking at doing is changing my eating habits. I'm not looking at it as a diet, if I want to have a cheeseburger, I'm still going to eat a cheeseburger. I'm just going to be more conscious about these decisions and I'm not going to have bad options for me at home. I've already started this in some ways. I try to be local as often as possible. Yes, in some cases I mean REALLY local...at the farmers market. But even at the grocery store, I try to stick with produce that was produces in the US. Not because I think our food is particularly better, but because it is fresher and it hasn't polluted the environment through travel from South America, etc. I have also been on an organic kick lately. A little pricier, but really, this is my health and body we're talking about...I'm worth it.
  • Start the day right. I am on day 2 of waking up a little earlier to do some core workouts. Truthfully, it has only been about 10 minutes, but I had to start (again) somewhere. It has been exciting to feel pain in my abs again. And I love that it gives me a certain boost of energy right away in the morning. I hardly needed my coffee this morning but I am not at a point of breaking that habit yet :)
  • Get outside. I stopped at High Cliff State Park on Sunday to buy my 2012 park sticker and pick up JB & D's sticker. It was a gorgeous day for January: 32* and super sunny, so I drove through the park with my windows cracked and then parked at the beach lot. I got out of my car, walked down to the beach and just took a deep breath. It was lovely. There is something about fresh air that just refreshes me. So why not indulge myself with more of that natural high, more often? I have snow shoes, cross country skis, and (soon) ice cleats. I'm set for a multitude of outdoor activities and I plan to utilize what I have! And maybe even try some new things to put those endorphins into over drive.
So there they are. Nothing mind-blowing or earth-shattering, but these goals are going to help me build on the foundation I've started and make any future goals easier for me to follow. I'm looking forward to 2012...continuing with my 2011 goals and adding these couple. Hopefully in a few months I will be at a place where these have become habit and I can start adding more goals.


One Year

One year ago this last weekend was the first time I met the people that I now call my best friends. It was the first weekend that I decided to spend for myself - not in Madison, or up here with a visitor. I needed girl-time and was finally going to get it.

I had been looking for a book club in Appleton and finally did a Google search. What came up first was Northeast Wisconsin Women's Book Club on Meetup.com. So I clicked the link, joined the group and then continued searching around Meetup. I found a Northeast Wisconsin Girls Night Out group. Sounded interesting enough; I needed something to add to my social life.

The first Meetup I attended was Bunco. It was being held at someone's house on Stroebe Island and I was to bring a dish to pass and my own beverage. So here I am, in my car, driving very slowly by this unknown house. I'm about 15 minutes early (what a surprise) and too nervous to park just yet, so I drive around the island for a good 10 minutes before finally talking myself into just parking and going in. I had brought a 6-pack of beer, but didn't want to bring all of them in for fear of the group judging me for wanting 6 beers. So I brought in two and my chips and salsa contribution.

Well...after that night, joining the beer club at Bazils 3 days later, and then Tuesday night Happy Hour the following Tuesday, I can officially say I was hooked. I now live in that house on Stroebe Island and continue to play Bunco (sometimes), drink beer at Bazils and enjoy Tuesday night dinner club with the ladies I met one year ago.

It is mind boggling to think about all that has changed in this last year and how much of it has to do with me finally making the decision to have a Crystal-centered weekend a year ago. In just a year, many of this ladies have seen me go through difficult times, but also some of the best times of my life. We have experienced marriage, birth, and sickness together. We've seen relationships start, relationships end, and relationships grow. For some, it is hardly believable that we have only known each other for a year; it seems like we have been friends for as long as I can remember.

It is always funny when people ask how I met my group of friends - especially my roommates. I ask if the person has ever heard of Meetup...more often that not, they say no. So I say that I was looking for a book club and stumbled upon this website, and then describe is as almost an online dating site for friends. A bit of a stretch, but really the best way to describe it. I then usually try to convince them that it is legit - groups have to pay to keep their site up, members need to join Meetup before they can see any event details, and then join the specific group to see more details.

It has been a great ride so far, with the same ups and downs you come to expect with any friendships - especially those among girls. I can't wait to see what the next year of our friendships holds!