So, I am what you would call a “people-person.” Actually, that is a complete lie. Everyone in my family is a “people-person,” but I am a people-person on steroids. If there was something akin to an “extreme” people-person, it would be me, without a doubt. I don’t ever just like people, I LOVE people … most people, actually. And sometimes, paradoxically, I think that might just be the thing that annoys others most about me! Even those who love me best give a gentle eye-roll at times when I do things like: make friends with the cashier, start a conversation about college choices with the bag-boy, tell a story to a stranger that I feel would relate to them, or, my personal favorite, realize I am kindred spirits, yet again, with the person who sits beside me on a plane. I can’t help it. I was meant, molded and made – for people!
That being clearly established. I need to divulge a deep secret you may not know … even “people-people” like me, need a break from, well … PEOPLE sometimes! Every once in awhile, me, little-miss-sunshine, the smiley, happy, bright-side-to-everything-girl needs a human holiday before I breakdown and those people I love realize that I do, in fact, have a breaking point! There is a post circulating from the brand “someecards.com” that succinctly and perfectly describes my feelings. It says, “I used to be a people person … until people ruined it!” Completely! It might be even more accurate to say that it isn’t people themselves, that cause the need for my short “stay-awaycations,” but rather, the dumb things they do and say!
John C. Maxwell once said, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” This is the exact reason I need some “alone time” once in awhile. Because when I reach that “Are you kidding me right now?” point, I don’t want to chance going all “Hulk” on someone (even if they momentarily deserve it). Best to step away and mentally shape shift into the green giant. Still, I think it is important to be honest with ourselves and realize that even “people-people” need to back away in certain situations. Just in case you aren’t sure when circumstances warrant a bit of “alone time,” here are a few scenarios I’ve gone through to guide you.
Scenario One: You’ve had a rough day with students, when one comes up to you, indignant and hoping you’ll settle the debate that “China and Japan are the same country … right!?!” (I kid you not, that really happened.)
Scenario Two: You wear your glasses to work one day, and about the tenth person in a row asks you, in a dumbfounded voice, “You wear glasses?” (You may have the urge to say, “Actually no, I just thought they’d decorate my face like those teenagers who wear lens-less frames.” But don’t. They will just think you’re being snarky … which you are, I should know … ’cause I’ve said it.)
Scenario Three: You take your sick child to the walk-in clinic, describe to the medical professional everything that your child has gone through for the past week, only to have them ask you, “So … what do you think is wrong?” (Oh, they were serious.)
Scenario Four: Your significant other asks you what you are up to this weekend, after you told them (in detail) what you were up to that weekend two hours before when they “swore” they were listening to you.
Scenario Five: You email a list of important questions to someone, and they answer the first, not having bothered to read the remainder of the message. (Grrr.)
Scenario Six: You meet a parent during parent-teacher conferences who asks you about her child’s Science and Social Studies grades (when you teach Literature) and then listen as they proceed to tell you that when they went to school “Science and Social Studies was basically the same thing.” (Yup … nothing you say there is gonna be good. Just smile and nod people, smile and nod.)
Scenario Seven: Your child asks you what “being-on-time” means. (Appropriate answer? “Nothing to us dear, and it never will.”)
Scenario Eight: You get “talked-to” for something you “forgot” to do, and then run into someone who says, “Oh! I forgot to tell you, but so-and-so needed you to do such-and-such.” (A little late there my friend!)
Scenario Nine: Going to the fridge for your easy and delicious left-overs, just to realize someone ATE them! (Yeah, that happened today. I’m still not over it.)
Scenario Ten: Anyone EVER who says, “You look tired.” (Just don’t.)
The good news is, after every episode, a few deep breaths and a self-induced time out, I’m good to go! Us “people-people” usually are; we recover quickly from the follies of others because: A) we love don’t like people, and B) we know that we are as guilty of making these blunders as anyone (except for the China/Japan/Science/Social Studies thing … those were pretty much unforgivably outrageous).
The philosopher Epictetus said, “The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.” That is a lovely statement and beautiful notion, but you and I both know that we don’t always get to choose who we are with. Still, we can pretend we do, make the best of it, and them. Even if you aren’t some crazy people-person like me, you can still respect who you’re with enough to make them feel “worth your time.” And when some insane scenario happens … when you just can’t believe someone said or did something so incredibly stupid, (because people will) smile politely, and walk away quickly, because even “people-people” need a breather sometimes.