It’s 10:15 am on Monday morning and I’m still in bed.

I’ve had two cups of tea and I’ve been reading social media on my phone for a few hours. Yesterday, I spent all day with PI and we got a ton of work done. But now, I’m drained. I had low reserves going into the day, and I heavily overspent my Shiny. “Shiny” is what I call my reserves of energy I spend when I’m interacting with people, even people I sincerely like. I’m a classic introvert, even if I don’t match the stereotypical shy-in-a-corner picture of an introvert people draw in their minds. I talk a lot, easily and freely, and I’m not afraid of conflict. But unlike an extrovert, who becomes energized when around people, every interaction I have has an associated energy expenditure. I only have so much in reserves, and they are slow to recharge.

The way Shiny works for me is kind of like how you can run a deficit when you haven’t gotten enough sleep. Sure, you can sleep in a little the next day and maybe that’s even enough to catch up, but depending on how long you’ve been running with too little sleep (how much you’ve overspent), an extra twenty minutes in the morning may not be able to make much of a dent. It’s like that, but for being awake. And interacting with other people.

So even though I’ve been awake for hours, I’m still in bed, listening to classical music playing quietly in the background punctuated by the wheezy snoring of my elderly cat who won’t leave my side.

Lacking a consistent schedule over the last year has affected my ability to consistently regulate my Shiny levels. I overspend in big batches because I forget that I need to conserve for the next event/contact/meeting. This means that in the interactions I’ve had, I’ve been very much present and focused… but they’ve also been individually much more expensive. The contrast in these approaches is interesting, because it’s shown me how much more absorbed and connected I can be in the moment when I used to interact from a default position of reserve. I need to figure out how I can use that Shiny deliberately and strategically when it can do the most good, now that I know I have it.

Sometimes, the default settings are safer — but they can hold me back.

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