Can You Get More Introverted As You Get Older?

I just got back from my theater company’s writers workshop and I feel seriously drained. To be fair, I’m already running on less than adequate sleep, but my energy is super low when it’s usually super high after an awesome and creative theater meeting.

Part of me feels like I haven’t fully recovered from working a major auto show in Chicago- I returned from the show a full week ago- last Monday- but it kind of seems like yesterday. My days back in New York have flown by. I spent a good amount of my time back home working on taxes and projects that needed to get done, and other days catching up with people I really wanted to see.

For whatever reason, I just want to crawl up and be alone and do nothing all day for the next few days (don’t we all, sometimes, especially us introverts?) but I have to travel out of town again tomorrow for another show. And the sensation of wanting to be alone and do nothing for days and days in order to recharge is stronger than ever.

So I just googled ‘does introversion increase with age?’ and found mixed opinions. I know that it’s my introverted nature that makes me need alone time to recharge, but I usually love socializing, especially one on one, and don’t feel as drained as I do now by not getting enough time alone. The google search results were a mixed bag, generally not stating that introversion increases with age, but a ton of people had also asked this question, making me think that it’s common even if undiagnosed.

If introversion doesn’t actually increase with age, perhaps we’re just more aware of it as we get into our thirties- we’re more aware of what we want and who we really are. I know that I’m less willing to push myself to the point of burnout, and am much more conscious of my feelings and opinions. So this newfound awareness of how I feel and where my limits are may make me feel like I’m getting more introverted  as I get older when in fact I’m just more aware of what I need.

Actually, writing this is making me feel better. I’m playing classical music and I just made tea and am gonna take a hot shower and I’m writing to you guys and you guys are great. And I’m blissfully, blissfully alone. Le sigh…

But a good le sigh.

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Startling Statistics About Single Women

This NY Magazine article, Single Women Are Our Most Potent Political Force by Rebecca Traister, was sent to me two days ago, and wow – I can’t stop thinking about it. The article (though not explicitly about this) cited many reasons why being single until you’re later in life can be very beneficial. Most startling was this nugget:

The “Knot Yet Report,” published in 2013, revealed that a college-educated woman who delays marriage until her 30s will earn $18,000 more per year than an equivalently educated woman who marries in her 20s. Women without college degrees also gain a wage premium if they delay marriage into their 30s, though only an average of $4,000 a year.

I know a lot of amazing, very intelligent unmarried women in their 30s. Myself included. And sometimes, I feel ‘less than’ my married counterparts, or I question whether something is inherently wrong with me that I haven’t married yet. But this article made me feel powerful and part of a group. I didn’t realize how large the demographic of us single women was. Here’s a small excerpt from the article:

In 2009, the proportion of American women who were married dropped below 50 percent. In other words, for the first time in American history, single women (including those who were never married, widowed, divorced, or separated) outnumbered married women. Perhaps even more strikingly, the number of adults younger than 34 who had never married was up to 46 percent, rising 12 percentage points in less than a decade.

It’s nice to hear realize you could be part of a major societal shift and not even realize it.

The Bowling Ball Leaning Dilemma, or Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

It’s been awhile since I’ve last gone bowling, but it’s been barely any time since I’ve worried about something. Both of these things are connected by a bad habit.

You see, I have a ridiculously useless habit when I go bowling. I throw the ball down the lane (and I seriously mean throw, as I have no technique. I only go bowling for fun or birthday parties). Once I’ve thrown the ball, I watch its trajectory down the lane, and then, very predictably, I lean my entire body in the direction I want the ball to go.

This crazy-looking full body lean is sometimes accompanied by arm waving, pushing an imaginary force that connects me to the ball and will accomplish a strike by telepathy. Astonishingly, my leaning telepathy has zero effectiveness in getting the ball to change course. All the leaning does is scratch my itch to DO something.

Lately, I’ve decided to pay attention to the hum of worry that naturally clouds my mind from the moment I wake up. I vaguely worry that I’ll do something wrong and wind up with people mad at me, or lose friends. I worry that I’ll forget all of the tasks I must do later that day or “some day soon.” I worry that when I’m happy for no reason I’m not being ‘reasonable’ or ‘down to earth enough.’ I worry about being happy in general, because if I’m happy now, then I must have settled.

Take a look at your own life- is there a sheen of mild to medium worry coursing through your moments? Worry might have become so habitual in your life that you barely notice it anymore. Maybe you feel like worry  helps you accomplish something by keeping tasks in the forefront of your mind. On the contrary, think of worry as the equivalent of that bowling lean, where your best effort will always be completely useless. Sometimes when you feel like something is helping, your instincts are actually fooling you.

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Would You Take a Dating Sabbatical?

I read about the concept of “dating fasts” in a recent NY Times Wedding announcement and was immediately intrigued. Basically, you take 6 months or longer and you abstain from dating and romance to focus on yourself and your personal growth. One might decide to participate in a dating fast if she/he finds herself/himself in a holding pattern in relationships, dating the same types of people over and over again.

Pastor Craig Holliday, a minister of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in Brooklyn, who suggested a dating fast to the groom (pre meeting his now wife) in the above article, said this about why someone might want to take a dating fast:

It’s important because unless you begin to identify the areas in your own life that you need help in, by God’s grace, then all you will do is jump from one bad relationship to the next because you have brought these problems with you.

So, when I deep some research into this concept of abstaining from dating, it seemed very strongly linked to religion. However, I think it’s a useful idea for secular folks as well. I recently read a quote I loved and it applies to dating and this idea of taking a sabbatical to re-assess:

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We can’t always be ‘on’ and looking for love. It just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes our minds aren’t in a romantic place – we have to accept that romance isn’t an everyday thing. During our downtimes from dating, we can discover a great deal about ourselves – who we are as individuals; what excites us and motivates us, and ultimately, what we want in a relationship and what we can give.

I love the idea of a dating fast. But at nearly 33, I’m not sure I want to take a 6 month one. Seems a bit long when I’m hoping for children and a family. But I do love the idea, and maybe a month wouldn’t be too bad an idea.

Would you ever take a dating sabbatical?

Being Single on Valentines Day in Your Thirties

Happy Valentines Day to all of you! This is from last year, but I think it’s still relevant.

OMG I'm Thirty

This is the first time in 8 years that I’ll be single on Valentines Day.

And now I’m 30- an age where I watch many of my friends not only go out with their significant other for V-Day, but also get married and have (multiple) babies. I watch relationships bloom all around me, like the red rose bouquets popping up everywhere this time of year.

Is this familiar to you? Are you in your thirties and single and wondering what this holiday means for you..if anything? Are you single on what Hallmark and others call ‘the most romantic day of the year?’

Last Valentines Day, if you told me I’d be single this year, on this day, I might have cried. Correction- I would have most definitely cried. I would have wailed. I would have said ‘oh god, what am I going to do? What’s wrong with me? How…

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Do I Need An Estate Plan in My Thirties?

I read an article earlier on LearnVest about Estate Planning. It was only vaguely interesting to me, because I figured that I was too young to do any kind of estate planning- also, isn’t that for really wealthy people who’ve built some kind of empire? Right now, my student loans negate my empire, don’t they?

After all, don’t you need an estate to do estate planning?

Apparently, you don’t need much of anything to begin estate planning, you just need to be over 18. Randy Gardner and Leslie Daff of Estate Plan Inc- the husband and wife team of attorneys consulted in the Learnvest article, say that it’s never too early to start planning- once you turn 18, your parents can’t make legal decisions for you anymore. They also say that you don’t need to have an empire of wealth for your ‘estate’ to go through probate (an un-fun court process needed to settle your affairs if you die without an estate plan in place)- an ‘estate’ of more than $20,000 can end up going through probate.

So how to start planning? The article is already helpful, but here are some of the top easiest tips I took away:

  1. If you have money stashed somewhere (an IRA, 401k, etc) make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. In my research, I read about a recently married couple where the husband died and never updated his beneficiaries to include his wife. His parents got the money and for reasons beyond me didn’t give the wife anything at all.)
  2. Perhaps setting up a Durable Power of Attorney is a good idea- though it seems slightly complicated. This is basically someone who is appointed (your spouse, a family member, a friend) to make healthcare and/or financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated or otherwise can’t handle your affairs.  This article explains it a bit– as well as how to set one up.
  3.  If you have children, setting up estate plans becomes even more necessary. You don’t want to have no plans in place if something unexpectedly happens to you. Look into setting up a Living Revocable Trust and make sure you have a will in place.

This stuff isn’t at all fun to think about, and we’re still young. But it’s kind of like having car insurance or rental insurance- you should always have a plan in place, especially when you have something to lose. Then you’ll be free to continue happily building your empire in peace.

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Less FOMO in Your 30s

Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but I’ve found that I have much less FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) now that I’m in my 30s. I distinctly remember feeling very unsettled on Friday and Saturday nights in my 20s when I didn’t have plans. I’d wonder what everyone else was doing and feared that I was missing out on establishing key bonds and friend/romantic opportunities because I wasn’t out on the town.

But now, I spend at least one Friday or Saturday night per weekend at home, vegging out. Usually that involves wine and good TV/movies (now it’s Showtime’s Billions, Hulu’s The Mindy Project, HBO’s Getting On, and the list goes on…). I also love reading, and books give me lots of warm fuzzies during my downtime.

I used to have guilt about using this time to be by myself and enjoy my own company on a  weekend, but not anymore.

Maybe one of the reasons is that I don’t really go on Facebook a lot – I’m more an Instagram type of girl, and my favorite posts are usually inspirational posts from Elizabeth Gilbert and my celeb girl crushes. So, my social media usage doesn’t bring me down, but instead serves to lift me up (most of the time).

Psychological studies have proven that most FOMO is derived from social media. In fact, there’s a quiz you can take called “Rate my FOMO” that seems to gage your level of FOMO based on your social media usage. You can check it out here, Rate my FOMO.

Studies have shown that FOMO seems to happen when your social/psychological needs aren’t being met, and thus you turn to social media for connection. Then, the vicious cycle begins – you see your ‘friends’ doing fun activities without you, and you wonder why you’re not doing these cool activities.

So, maybe in our 30s, we know how to take care of ourselves better. We know how to meet our psychological and social needs, and we know the basics of self-care.

What do you think? Do you have less FOMO than you used to?

A Beautiful Frustum In Your Thirties

Seth Godin, one of my favorite business bloggers, recently wrote a blog about pyramids without a top. In geometry, these types of shapes are called frustums.

We spend our career lives trying to get to the top of our pyramid- we want to be the career elite, the famous, the special, the 1%. And why not? Fantastic career success is a big and beautiful possibility.

However, with the advent of the digital age, more and more of us will find it easier than ever to get our work out there in some form, but harder and harder to gain the fame and well-known 1% type of success (because everyone else is getting their work out too). For example, it’s easier than ever for anyone to publish a book all by themselves, but now there are more books available than ever before. Instead of waiting to get a book published, you can publish your book and sell it on Amazon or multiple other internet sources completely free. You can do the same with music and web tv (webisodes)- you can quickly and easily get your music or webseries online and direct to users all by yourself and for almost no cost.

Will you be the next Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? The next Stephen King or Tina Fey? Maybe. Maybe not. But can you be a success and make good money and have a powerful, impactful, positive life without being a headliner like the above names? Absolutely.

The hard part isn’t in being in a frustum of an industry- where there’s no real peak, just more and more opportunity for entry- the hard part is in accepting the frustum and knowing you can still make a great life. There’s lots of room in frustums for lots of people to be successes- it’s just a different kind of success.

Even when you’re not well-known or at what you think is the peak of your career pyramid, you can still be a pretty damn good school teacher or time-share seller or yoga instructor or animal shelter manager. You can write amazingly good books or make insanely gorgeous music and get it all out into the world easier than ever because the base of the frustum is wider than ever. If you can accept this shapeshifted new world change, you may just realize that you’re more successful (and happier) than you ever dreamed you could be.

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When People Ask “How Are You?”

Lately, when people ask how I’m doing or what my plans are when I’m officially done with graduate school in five weeks, I tell them some variation of this: “I’m just trying to take it day by day.” Because truthfully, that is what I’m doing. While I know I’ll need to get a job, and I know I’ll never stop writing, that’s the extent of my plan.

But today, as I wrote my stock “taking it day by day” reply in an email to a friend, I started doubting myself. Maybe I should have more of a plan. Because in our 30s, shouldn’t we be planning more? Creating a roadmap of where we want to be in a few years? Doesn’t it feel solid and stable to have a plan?

I mulled over that today, and have been thinking about this for awhile, and I came to the conclusion that for me, it’s less about having a plan and more about having guiding principles. Values. Those guide me more than my “plan.” While I don’t know what exact job I will have in six months, I know that I will try and live kindly and simply, spend time with those people I love, and make the world a better place for people whenever I can.

I also know my “target feeling.” It’s a weird phrase that I know I’m stealing from somewhere that I don’t remember (I think it was a social anxiety blog), but the idea is that you should consider how you ideally want to feel in a given situation. So, in an ideal world, what would you want your target feeling to be for most of your days? I know I’d want to feel exuberant, generous, and in-flow with something bigger than myself. And so, I must let my choices in how I spend my time be made by what will help me achieve this “target feeling”?

I was reading quotes on writing today, and I came across this one below, that is quite appropriate to this post today.

And P.S. – If you aren’t familiar with Anne Lamott, I highly recommend you check out her work. She’s got an amazing book for writers titled Bird by Bird.

E.L. Doctorow said once said that ‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.
– Anne Lamott, Writer

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