A few days ago, I was talking to my good friend (we go back more than 25 years of blood sweat &tears at work, and kept our friendship through retirement), and she has this thing where she insists on talking with me when she runs errands around town.
The thing is, she gets really worked up whenever anything annoying happens to her- which is almost every time she runs errands -whether I am online talking to her- or hearing about the mishaps later-via the same phone.
she is a petite woman, very funny and intelligent, now retired-as I am- from long years of being a litigator- meaning she knows what acceptable behavior is supposed to look like-
I hear her start shouting at passing cars that honked too loud-in her opinion- or didn’t stop at the crossroad she was using, at electric bike riders that- again- in her opinion -were super close to running her down, at the post office- at other people in line, at the hairdressers- when other people display their political beliefs, at the market -etc.
The last time I heard her getting all worked up and shouting-
#1. I was glad the conversation was over ( I was beginning to get worked up too).
#2. I thought-oh my- if she could hear herself. how embarrassing. (I know- I exercise my right to be a bitch every now and then).
#3. I thought about the errands I needed to run the day after- and thought of ways to avoid getting all worked up about it.
#4. I understood that she gets this way probably because she is anxious and getting out of the house and running errands takes a toll on her well-being.
SO- I guess what I’m saying is if you read the title and thought “what the F?”, then you’re definitely not an introvert.
Because an introvert knows WHAT THE F.
An introvert knows that leaving the house and being in constant need to contact people in order to get things done, is a HUGE task, one that leaves you drained of energy and many times frustrated-so much so- that many simply avoid running errands altogether and join the “bureaucracy phobia gang”.
Being a stellar introvert myself, I’ve managed to organize quite a method -if I do say so myself- to minimize the toll.
So if you are an introvert- or- if you are a lucky happy “let’s go out and have fun” extrovert- but have introverts as family or friends- then hear me out on this one.
Before I start-
I am mentioning the obvious here- since I am not a health certified anything- told you- an early retired litigator- whose only certification on the subject comes from 52 years as an introvert- this is not professional advice, and If you feel you need an expert- find one.
My approach is the opposite–
Instead of trying to change me-
why not change the circumstances?
What I mean by this bold statement is-
#1: whatever you can do online- do online- most things can be bought/sorted out/ discussed -online- via phone- or much better yet- by Gmail.
lucky for us introverts, the internet was invented a few decades ago, saving us not only time and money but also the agonizing fear of actually leaving our safe and comfortable home- only to be challenged with the task of dealing with a lot of other people.
The mail method is brilliant because there is no way you can get worked up and start behaving like my shouting friend, though I am aware that it is possible to do that via Whats App voice messages- that is why I recommend the good old Gmail. another plus is that every conversation or negotiation is “on record” for future “I can’t remember what exactly was the offer” or such mishaps.
#2. If you can’t sort it online- try to pack up as many “on route” errands as possible. that saves you money (gas)+time+ the agony of leaving the house is minimized significantly if you run all your errands at one time.
This, naturally, requires some planning- I mean- sure you can just go about wandering the busy streets, but, then again- you can’t.
Because -at least for me- being an introvert means I like hiking alone in nature, but roaming busy streets full of people? malls? stores? no. way.
I get tired easily and then- get upset easily, and when this snowball starts rolling-
Once I realized this chain reaction, I decided there is no need for me to wander about and waste my energy, I need to be super focused and just get things done in the most efficient way I can think of.
planning ahead means- at least for me- writing down every errand I need to run as soon as I notice it- (get more gardening soil, get a new hot water bottle -the old one tore after years of excessive use, annual blood works, annual car check-up, etc. no need to reveal all my exciting activities here). then- before planning my route- checking all the lists and checking for possible new errands to be run.
#3. Make sure you are set and organized for the task: OK, I know this sounds as if one is going on a trip around the world, and not going out to run a few errands, but-
For me- acknowledging the fact that both activities are equally stressful- plus the fact that I usually need to run errands every few weeks, but don’t travel around the world that often-
I think you get it. I learned to respect my odd reactions, and as they say- “own it”.
By being all set I mean- check I have my list, (see #2 above) , my water bottle (I take it everywhere), plan my breakfast/lunch -before? after? I think it’s common knowledge that errands ran on an empty stomach are good for nothing. (Winnie the poo? possibly).I also check my cell phone battery, (what?? just in case?), my GPS navigator (me getting lost is not a pretty sight), plus I go over the route beforehand to check that it’s the most efficient route possible.
#4. I dare say this is a major super important tip here, although it’s hidden after 3 other tips.
Be the first person in the store!
I mean it.
people tend to dismiss the timing factor, and I, on the other hand, tend to give it my utmost respect.
The thing is-
early in the morning- the streets are quieter, people are nicer and calmer, less noise, more space, and -if you go to the market- fresher produce.
If you are a late sleeper- well then- I really have nothing to say, because I’ve never slept beyond 8 am in my whole life, and now I wake naturally at 4-5-6 am.
I have to insist on this tip- unless you live in a quiet distant village, that sees 10 people and a goat max a day.
(Now that- sounded great by the way. then again- you don’t really need any of these tips if that is your situation).
I’ve lived in cities before, and I hear my friends go on and on about traffic, parking spaces, and crowded stores, and I keep thinking- why don’t they go out earlier?
I am well aware that “be the first in the store” can generally apply only to the first store you go to but- planning ahead can get you started in the busiest store first, and build your route from thereon.
5. Take into consideration that you may not succeed in checking off all the errands on your list. things happen. accept it beforehand, and be joyful if everything worked out great.
Oh, and by the way- just as I was finishing my chat with my agitated shouting friend, she exclaimed: “wow-don’t you miss the great bakeries we have here in the city? they are fabulous! it’s so difficult to live in the far far away village of yours!”
Enjoy- the cooliflower.