When we mentioned moving to Santa Ynez, many people completely overlooked Loren and the kids with being able to adjust and looked directly at me asking “how are you going to handle living on a ranch and not knowing anyone?” I am not going to lie, I took some offense to this question, thinking to myself, “why do they think I am the one who is not going to be able to handle this?!”
The truth is though, when I take a step back, I am can understand where this question is coming from. While Loren finds peace and serenity in the quiet, slower pace of life, I have thrived among the masses, always wanting to be involved and being energized by activity, people and an active social calendar. In college, I would stay up as late as possible and wake up early because I felt that sleep just got in the way of fun. I love speaking in front of people and there was rarely a social event (party, fundraiser, lunch, whatever) I would say no to. I am, by definition, an extrovert.
So how was this extrovert going to pick up and move to a new area that lends itself to a quieter, slower way of life while not knowing any more than a handful of people? I get it. I can see how it doesn’t make much sense.
But perhaps I have grown up and learned a few things.
When I was younger and my Oldest was just starting Kindergarten, I felt the need to be friends with everyone and be involved with everything. I threw myself into friendships and commitment with wild abandonment. My world was suddenly a collection of playdates, mom night outs, school events, fundraisers and people everywhere. This extrovert was in social heaven and the noise was everywhere.
A few years went by and then suddenly, I began to crave silence.
I started to notice that though I called everyone a friend, they were really acquaintances and the number people I truly called on as friends was relatively small. The social calendar and involvement I built up over the years began to feel more like a burden than an enjoyment and I realized that I was saying yes for the sake of saying yes and not because I had a true desire to be there.
Life needed to slow down. God had been telling me this for years. In fact, one of my favorite bible verses is “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) yet I rarely paid attention to what it was saying because I was too busy running on all cylinders. It took some time but finally, one day, I woke up and was ready to listen.
I read the book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner and it felt like it was written just for me. It was time to make a change. Over the last year I have learned to love the silence and peace in not “being involved”. I schedule less and pray more. I learned the value of loyalty and that this smaller group of people I have surrounded myself are considered my extended family, always there for me when I need them. I realized that I enjoyed dinner at home with my family more than any night out on the town. I realized that a glass of wine with one dear friend was better than any party. Slowly, I was slowing down.
So here we are.
If I am honest, I am enjoying the fact that no one knows me here. There is a peace in walking on campus or going to the market without running into someone you know. This does not mean that I am not looking forward to meeting people and getting involved. It just means that perhaps this extrovert has learned to appreciate the quiet life of an introvert at times and right now, it is rejuvenating. There is a quote in Erin’s book by G.K. Chesterton that says “There are two ways to get enough; one is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less”. I love this because I am finding more value with fewer friends, fewer activities and fewer obligations than I ever did in my accumulation of it all. For that, this extrovert has found complete joy in this more simple, quiet way of life.
And so the answer to the question “how are you going to handle it?’ needs only one simple response.
“I am doing just fine.”