I was having a discussion with a friend recently and I found myself returning to the same phrase as I explained our differences and actions, “Well my personality NEEDS quiet time alone” or “My personality NEEDS an outlined schedule” as I came to realize (and question) what it is that other people NEED.
I NEED a structured schedule- The idea of a structured schedule certainly doesn’t make me jump for joy, I think we all day dream about a life filled with constant vacations, travel, confetti throwing parties, etc. Though deep down I believe most humans innately crave schedule more than we care to admit. I’d dare to say most people go a little crazy without a scheduled sense of purpose however I am on the extreme end of this spectrum. My need for structure extends to the time I go to sleep and wake up, to the urgent feeling that I should have some sort of work (or activity scheduled) 6 days a week. It’s beyond an obsession with lists and planners. I have to remind myself to relax and enjoy the spontaneity of life daily…it’s still a work in progress.
I NEED to use my time intentionally- The idea of living life idly absoloutely terrifies me. I can’t spend a weekend binging out watching New Girl on Netflix, I need to have a plan, I need to have an intention. It is important for me to compartmentalize all tasks in my mind and find their purpose before I complete them. On Friday night I may head out with friends (purpose: social) on Saturday I may go on a run (purpose: health/stress relief) and grocery shopping (purpose: necessary errand). By Sunday I’ll allow myself an hour to paint my nails and watch Gossip Girl (purpose: recharge) before cleaning my room (purpose: necessary housework) before I head to babysit (purpose: money). It sounds silly but every activity in my life has a compartmentalized purpose. I can allow myself to lay in bed watching Gossip Girl as long as it is intentional. I can maybe feel intentional about lethargy for an hour or two (max) before it looses ability to recharge me. My need for intention isn’t mirrored by everyone (which is OK) but knowing this about myself allows me to schedule my time in a way that is most beneficial to me.
I NEED space to be quiet (even if I’m not alone)- It took me several years of living with other people before I discovered that not everyone needs as much time to be silent as I do. Living in a sorority was not conducive of this need and consequently I often found myself escaping to a friend’s house simply to have silent time to hear myself think. Now I realize that I won’t ever be handed the quiet space I need, I have to take it! When I get home from work I have to force myself to spend 20-30 minutes making dinner, taking a bath or reading a book alone and in silence. If I don’t demand this time for myself someone will turn on music, want to chat or invite me to a party. I’ve realized that by carving out quiet time for myself I am much happier and more present in the moment when I am with others in a social setting.
I NEED the freedom to express my emotions- Though it’s probably quite obvious to readers here that I am a bit of an emotional basket case who has no shame wearing her heart on her sleeve it is more difficult to decipher when I’m in the flesh. Many of my family members have described me as “closed off” (ha) or “quiet” regarding my life and emotions but I couldn’t view myself any more opposite! I really need a space to bleed my emotions. I need a space to analyze and feel understood. I need the deep conversations and the introspective reasoning! Not everyone feels comfortable opening up about their emotions and introspective thoughts and after coming across as way too intense in way too many small talk scenarios I realized how disinterested I am in these sort of surface level conversations. In the real world it really doesn’t matter that I don’t like small talk-life calls for small talk and I need to get over it! However recognizing that I NEED deep conversation and that I NEED to discuss my emotions has allowed me to actively search for the people and outlets that allow me to do so.
I NEED one on one time- Call me selfish or “needy” (quite fitting with this post actually) but I have to have one on one time to maintain any sort of relationship. I once had a boyfriend who often invited me to large group events which was awesome but rarely made time for just the two of us. It worked for him but was so strange to me, I didn’t understand how we could be friends let alone boyfriend and girlfriend when we never had time alone together. I crave the same “all eyes (& ears) on me” affection in friendships. I don’t have the time to hangout with twenty people one on one consistently (who does?) therefore I’ve realized I don’t have time for twenty friends. My circle will always be small (which allows for its own set of challenges at times) but the people in my life are always there for me as I am for them!
Why are identifying these NEEDS in ourselves so important? As we flail our way through life unaware of our own stream of consciousness I think it is easy to fall into the trap of projecting our own subconscious needs and desires onto those around us. Just because I wake up with the desire to jump out of bed and begin checking tasks off of my “To-Do” list doesn’t mean those I interact with always channel the same “go-getter” morning mentality. I’m often overwhelmed when I schedule myself hopping from one social event to the next while my best friend has no problem jogging with me, meeting another friend afterwards for coffee, lunching with an ex boyfriend then heading to babysit 3 little boys. The thought of such a jam packed social schedule without any gaps for “Me Time” makes me dizzy! By recognizing my “must haves” I’ve found it easier to look at those around me objectively and understand their “must haves”.
Have you noticed any specific qualities you need that those around you don’t necessarily prioritize? Do you have any of the same needs as me (or opposite needs!)?