Introvert or not, our homes are scared places. We spend time in them, spend money on them, and adorn them with items that tell the world who we are. For many of us, they are an extension of our personality.
I recently realized how important the link between home and personality is. In a recent hiatus from our home, I have come to understand how important my home is to my self-care as a highly sensitive introvert.
This summer, we rented our home out to holiday makers as a way of earning some extra money. We have been blessed with a house and a pet sitting opportunity for most of this time. In many ways, our little home-away-from-home has been idyllic. The property is a small, family-owned campground with a playground, pool, and about 40 animals. My two girls are in paradise and unsurprisingly are not missing home yet!
But there are a couple of downsides to my temporary home. First, I’m surrounded by people constantly. Not just the five people in my immediate family, but also the dozen or so other people who live or camp here in close proximity.
The second downside is the lack of privacy. Our wee cottage is in the center of the grounds, with large windows on all sides. I am literally exposed all day long!
I didn’t realize until I left how much the layout and privacy of our own home support my personality. And it’s not that I’ve felt terribly uncomfortable in our temporary house. I just had a feeling that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
The first time I went home to clean between guests, I took a moment to reflect and appreciate our beautiful home. I noticed how relaxed and safe I felt. Our home is surrounded by mature trees and a garden and provides a screen against the outside word that I often find too stimulating.
My home is perfect for my personality. It not only shields me from the outside world, but I can also take shelter within it when I need to.
Open-Plan Homes Are Taking Over
In her bestselling book Quiet, Susan Cain points out how western society has a bias towards extroverts. She uses open-plan offices and classroom seating arrangements as examples. The concept of group-think in order to aid discussion, collaboration, and eventually productivity has dominated commercial architecture in the last few decades.
This tendency towards the open plan has seeped into how we build homes. Open-plan living areas are the envy and goal of many homeowners. We draw plans to include flow between kitchens and living areas. Walls are knocked out to ensure everyone can see everyone at all times. Helicopter parenting is easier when we can see our offspring!
I, for one, can’t do the open plan all the time. In my last office job, I frequently wore earplugs and listened to a white noise app on my phone not just to aid concentration but also to mimic being alone. (You are also less likely to be interrupted by a coworker when you have headphones on.)
How to Nurture Quiet in Your Home
Our time away from home, spent in a new and very open-plan environment, had me pondering what we, as introverts, can do to create homes that foster and nurture our quiet souls. Here are seven ideas.
1. If you are fortunate enough to be on the cusp of planning a new build, consider what you can do to incorporate quiet spaces into your home. Ask yourself if everything really needs to be open plan and how this will affect you if it is. Can you afford to add some quiet nooks that you will be able to escape to?
2. If you already own or rent a home that has been designed with open-plan areas, consider creating a sanctuary for yourself. Do you have a spare room that can be used as a time-out area just for you? Kids get playrooms, so why can’t introverts have their own spaces, too? When I was young, I created a makeshift tent in the corner of my room and decked it out with my favorite books. It was a place where I felt sheltered and private.
3. Consider your outdoor area. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, invest in some large plants that will provide a natural wall from the neighbors. It might take a while for those plants to mature and give you that extra privacy, but it will be worth it.
4. As introverts, we likely prefer intimate conservations with just one other person. Creating a nook or window seat that provides a space for that to happen can be magical.
5. If you don’t have the budget to alter anything structurally in your house (let’s face it, who does!), maybe you have a garage or shed that you could renovate cheaply to provide a getaway for yourself.
6. If you find yourself sensitive to noise, make sure your sanctuary is void of extraneous noises. Use noise-canceling headphones or a white noise app if necessary.
7. Intentionality in design is key, as is understanding your particular type of introversion. Take some time to understand the ways in which you consider yourself to be introverted, then intentionally design spaces that will allow your unique self to flourish. What works in a space for one introvert may not work for you.
After almost 40 days away from home, while it’s been a struggle at times, the experience has also been a cathartic one. Change is good and allows fronds of green to grow on barren ground.
In two days, we return to our beautiful home, and I’m so excited I’ll probably celebrate in true introvert style — by hunkering down and hibernating for a few weeks!
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