An epiphany of sorts today.
I realized, as I sat at my desk balancing visitor after visitor with requests for information or questions and e-mails clamoring for attention amidst coming and going to meetings, that I simply do not have the energy to maintain this sort of working life. I have no time to recharge.
I am, by every test I have ever taken, an introvert - so much heavily so that I almost always top out the chart. This surprises some people when they see me interacting in social settings - I can be witty, personable, engaging - the life of the party. This works, as I have come to understand, because that is not a taking of energy by others but exchanging of energy with others.
But what I am doing in my workday now is completely different.
Everyone has a need. Everyone has a question. Everyone wants something from me - if not in person, then via e-mail. This has become my day, a steady stream of individuals coming with questions or requests. They are most good natured about it of course, and I suspect scarcely any of them wish me ill will, but still they come. And ask.
There is no exchange of energy in these interactions, no building of excitement - just a steady drain of energy as one after another, people come with their needs.
And leave me mentally and psychically exhausted. Literally. I have nothing left to give by the time I leave for home. Add to that a commute approaching an hour or more and then another group of people at home who have a different set of requests and needs for interaction and you can see where this ends up.
I have often wondered over the years why I can stand commuting to the extent that I do. I truly do not mind the concept of long drives - and now I know why. It is a small chance to recharge from the daily drainage of energy. It also explains why I set such aggressive goals at the beginning of year yet always seem to lose steam, or how I can come out of a weekend ready to go and find myself with nothing by Wednesday. I have given myself time to recharge via vacation or weekend - but the batteries do not have enough regular down time to maintain that level of energy.
What to do about the situation, that is the question. It is not as if I can wall myself away from everyone (oh, how I wish!) and recharge time seems no more likely to appear now than ever.
But it is the germ of a concept and realization, the fact that I require a more balanced approach to my interactions to pace myself and (really) make myself the most functional me that I can. People are not going to like it.
On the other hand, I surely do not like the way I feel now and how my life is working out. Ultimately, that should trump all.