I’m a 31-year-old introvert and I hate going out.
For years, I hid this fact. Especially as a teenager, when going out was the be all and end all. My friends would head into town after school and I’d slink off when they weren’t looking, walking home instead to bury myself in a book.
So when Baby Yoda - the breakout star of the Mandalorian - went viral this week with the meme of him holding a cup of soup, many of us welcomed it as a reminder to take better care of introverted selves.
Call it what you want – hygge, self-care, wellness, embracing your inner introvert, being a homebody. The basic principles are the same, encouraging us to find coziness, comfort and contentedness in simplicity.
This isn’t easy to do at the best of times, let alone during the holiday period when we find ourselves smashed from all directions with end-of-year work parties and Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. I reject most of the invitations, of course, and hide out at my parents’ house. The most entertaining I do is hanging out with my two-year-old nephew and chatting about birds, with which he is fortunately as obsessed as I am. “Oh bird!” he exclaims as another cockatoo swoops by.
I’m over-worked, over-stressed, and over-tired, and you probably are too. And with the outside world increasingly a major source of anxiety – Austalians now say that the climate crisis is their biggest concern – is it any surprise that more people are turning inwards and staying at home?
Most of the time, I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. It’s a huge city of 30 million people where quiet is rare and time for relaxing is hard to find when you spend hours battling never-ending traffic jams every day. Green spaces are few and far between, and even in our house, the blaring of car and motorbike horns can be heard at all hours.
I try to make it home to Canberra for Christmas with my parents and brother, so for me, contentedness over Christmas is simple: lazy days on the couch, a weak standing fan blowing warm air around as the cricket broadcast drones on in the background. The smell of the Christmas tree. Fresh orange juice on Christmas morning. A post-turkey walk in the early evening, the streets empty and the dry grass crunchy under my shoes.
I find that contentedness is most easily achieved when it’s free.
I find that contentedness is most easily achieved when it’s free. I like to go for late afternoon strolls by myself to Lake Burley Griffin in the centre of Canberra, where I can sit under a cherry tree and watch the black swans float past, honking at passers-by for snacks. I also like to stay at home and sprawl out in the shade of the wisteria in the back yard with a book in hand (and a few others close by, just in case). There’s a family of magpies living in my parents’ garden right now, and their constantly squawking baby makes me smile whenever I hear her hungry shrieks.
As a freelance writer, where words are my income, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s ok not to be productive all the time. Recharging is also important, especially over the holidays. After all, there will be parties and family members we can’t avoid, so we need all the energy we can get. Especially if you’re an introvert like me.
Kate Walton is an Australian writer and community organiser living in Jakarta, Indonesia.