Humans are made to connect with each other. This is true no matter where you fall on the spectrum between introvert to extrovert . In order to do that well we have to have something to offer. No matter who you are, getting away allows refueling by both reflection and freedom to recharge.
I fall high on the scale toward extrovert but I find that I need solitude just as much as anyone else. Without it I lose both the desire and ability to build and deepen relationships.
This weekend I was together with close friends on an annual camping trip. For many of us it is the only chance we get to regroup and learn about each others lives. We all have kids now so most of the day is spent around activities like hiking, biking, swimming and such. The evenings, after smores and bedtime stories, are spent together gazing into the fire. This trip on one of the nights I ended up being the last one up. As I stared into the glowing embers of the fire now reduced to a pile of red hot coals, I realized that I often end up doing this alone on purpose. I love the reconnecting and storytelling that happens with all the friends but often the two to three days of constant interaction drains my reserves. The trip is really a connectors dream setting. Several good friends brought together for a few days in close contact is a precious time for me. But in order to offer who I am, I need to go back to a place of solitude. Mini retreats like this are essential for everyone. Some of us need it more of it than others. Seasonally I try to get away for an extended version. Call it a modern day example of what the desert fathers did in Christian tradition. I get away for one or two full days where I try to leave behind all technology and spend time hearing God and letting all the world’s bagage fall off my shoulders.
I always come back, whether it is an hour or a couple of days, refreshed and ready to continue connecting and contributing to the relationships in my life. I am able to offer a clearer perspective. How many of us though are spent, running on fumes in every interaction with have with others. People need us to have something to offer, something to give away. We only can when we refill our reserves.