Musings On ‘You Should Get Out More’

Have any of you had this said to you? Have you said it to yourself, perhaps? I bet the meaning behind the phrase and the very tone of it were quite different in the two cases. Well, since a friend of mine messaged me this week to ask whether I could meet up with her for a coffee because, as she put it, ‘I need to get out’, I knew she meant the latter of the two meanings, and I obliged because I know only too well what it feels like to be cooped up indoors needing a social outlet. But the phrase got me thinking of the different permeations of this instruction: the positive, the negative, and the anticipated rewards of ‘getting out more’. What is it really all about?

How do you feel when you see this open door? Does it make you want to leap out there and embrace outdoors and all that goes with it, or do you prefer, for whatever reason, to stay indoors today? If you can see beyond the obvious fluctuations upon our moods in response to the changing weather, dark and raining or bright sunshine having quite different ‘invitations’ to our inner spirit, do you know where you stand in relation to the open door? Are you pulled out, knowing you are indulging in some resisting procrastination towards your creative work, or are you weary and ready for a change of scene after a spell of working hard? In a nutshell, are you happy with your outdoor/indoor life balance?

When you say ‘you should get out more’ to yourself

The case for saying it to yourself seems simple and constructive enough. And for many creative people who work from home, it’s hopefully built into our lifestyle to balance the intensity of self-directedness of creative work, to get out and about and enjoy the company of others, or to gather material for our work which can come from a multiplicity of directions. As another friend put it, ‘we need other outlets to feed our creativity’. So you meet up with friends, or you do some voluntary work perhaps, to focus on others for a change, or you have a part time job for necessity’s sake, but which also functions to keep you connected to your social milieu, to ‘what’s going on out there’ in the mainstream –  and in all these ways getting out more is a positive conscious act of self-care and a way of maintaining a healthy perspective on yourself and your life.

But what can also be a positive act of self care is to get out of the house to be alone in nature. This is probably my number one favourite getting out activity. I just have to open the door and I’m where I want to be and I never take the ease of this for granted. I rarely meet someone else on my country lane walks or when I’m trudging the fields and I love it exactly like this. Creative ideas or writing solutions may pop into my head because I’m not trying too hard to consciously solve a problem through sheer willpower. It’s as if there is a precious stream, of dare I say it ;>) inspiration!, which bubbles alongside me and which throws some golden nuggets into my path now and again, and I think, Yes! That’s it! Perfect! I know from other writers and creatives that this is a common experience, which we appreciate and shouldn’t take for granted for one second. We accept the magic and the mystery and say thank you.

But would this magic happen if you are in the company of someone else and all the chatting you end up doing dominates? Would you have any  aha moments then? I don’t think so. And would, what I’ll call, conventional mainstream society, agree that going out for a solitary walk fits the concept of the meaning behind getting out? Or do they mean something different? Something far more socially programmed and therefore ‘received’?

I used to tell myself I needed to get out more in the early 80s when I was stuck in an unpleasant rut during my early twenties with no job and barely any social life. I’d kind of dropped through the social net, after walking  away (more like running away in horror) from my science degree course. I was very lonely, needed some good company, and through that some personal validation which I was lacking, and I was desperate to go to discos or clubs and dance the night away. I loved dancing! I grabbed some rare opportunities that came my way to dance the night away, only to find the tinnitus I had contracted through a virus at the age of 18 reacting to the volume of the music with a competing volume of its own, so I had to be very careful not to linger at the ‘ball’  – a bit like Cinderella, only needless to say I wasn’t running out on a Prince Charming (He came along a few years later, and my real-life prince happened to hate dancing.) Other activities were my getting the bus into the city to shop in the arcades, to feed on omelette, chips and beans in a café (no worry about putting on weight in those ‘halcyon’ days of youth), or going to the cinema by myself with a hotdog and plenty of mustard and a Coke to get stuck into. I guess I was trying to follow Petula Clark’s advice in ‘Downtown’ because the lyrics fitted my situation perfectly:

When you’re alone, and life is making you lonely
You can always go
Downtown
When you’ve got worries, all the noise and the hurry
Seems to help, I know
Downtown
Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, things’ll be great when you’re
Downtown, no finer place for sure
Downtown everything’s waiting for you

Downtown

Don’t hang around and let your problems surround you
There are movie shows
Downtown
Maybe you know some little places to go to
Where they never close
Downtown
Just listen to the rhythm of a gentle bossa nova
You’ll be dancing with him too before the night is over
Happy again

The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares
So go downtown, where all the lights are bright
Downtown, waiting for you tonight
Downtown, you’re gonna be alright now

…but somehow it was pretty hard to feel as upbeat about it as Petula. I felt on the ‘outside’ of what I conceived real life to be, and envied those on the ‘inside’ who in my estimation, at the time, were living life properly. I didn’t know anything about the varying natures of introverts and extraverts and their different needs, and I’d never heard of Jungian types to discover there were more people like me, so I didn’t rate what I was doing at all – namely drawing, reading psychology books, developing self awareness, and getting out in the fields. And I had a sister who was leading the life of an extrovert to negatively compare myself to. And of course, when we’re young there is a natural drive to want to belong, to fit in, so that is what you want to pursue. There were some sporadic social times which came about through meeting people when I was working as a lab technician, and years later I upped my social life which was linked to work again, only to discover something which floored me…

And it came as a revelation. I discovered what I thought I’d been missing out on was actually not worth having. ‘Is this it? I asked myself. There were no in-depth conversations, no revealing of personal feelings, opinions, or ideas, like I’d imagined people sharing with shiny-eyed enthusiasm. Everything stayed on the surface. There was a superficiality with a focus on ‘safe’ small talk (menu choices, the weather, cars) which I just couldn’t understand. I should point out that the types of people I’m talking about weren’t creative types, but still…I felt disappointed and frustrated. Was it worth the effort, I asked myself. I suppose my introvert me was hard to please and my introvert prince (by then my hubby) happened to feel the same way. So for a long while we became sufficient unto ourselves, as they say. There were no busy bars with people having to physically shoulder-but their way to the barman to place an order, but having to look cool at the same time, where any conversation has to be shouted to be heard over the background babble. There were no bustling city restaurants where everyone says the food is great and it is the place to go, or pub crawls to be part of the crowd. If we tried any of these, we left early.

To this day, my hubby and I have never held a dinner party. We have been to a few, with my having pushed him to accept an invitation, but something was usually lacking – so needless to say, I stopped pushing. So some people need to get out more than others, is the moral to this tale, and what you need to get out to do is highly dependant on your own individual preferences and your own nature – and these may well result in you swimming against the more generalised tide. However, to be lonely, to be isolated is a terrible thing, because we are essentially social animals and need at least a measure of company. We so need to connect with other people for our mental health. And if you find yourself in this lonely position, then you simply must say to yourself – I need to get out more, I need to find an outlet. You can begin with just one activity and take it from there…

But what about when someone else tells you ‘You should get out more’?

This can be absolutely  straight and to the point and said for your benefit, and if it is well-intentioned it should be followed up with some empathy and constructively helpful suggestions. However it can also be said with pure sarcasm, in a disparaging and scoffing tone, for which there is no follow up. The phrase just hangs there, accusingly, making you feel withered, ‘other’, and small. And what they really mean is something like this:

I don’t get you.

You’re really weird. You’re not normal.

I don’t get the things you like or the topics you are talking about. What planet are you on?

You’re lacking.

…where their perspective alone is deciding what is ‘normal’, and whatever your perspective is – well, it just isn’t right. It’s downright odd. It’s a case of them believing that their perspective fits the socially accepted and sanctioned mainstream conventional norms – and yours doesn’t even come close. They are making a value-judgment and you are falling short.

A related phrase that comes to mind, and which is also pretty common is: ‘You need to get a life’. 

Who’s life do you need to get? Theirs? Because they know how to make the most out of life and you don’t?  Again it is a highly subjective, narrow and judgmental comment to make. Imagine saying this yourself to someone. How arrogant would you feel?

So what we’re talking about in relation to ‘you need to get out more’ in this negative context, is a judgment based on personal values. And your own values may fit with the majority, or they may not. In relation to this, I came across something interesting in Maslow’s Towards A Psychology of Being . He maintains that people who operate from a more authentic way of being, ‘assume a new relation to their society…and to society in general. They resist enculturation…they become more detached from their culture…they become a little more of a member of their species and a little less a member of their local group.’ And he maintains this is the essence of psychological health where increased detachment and the desire for privacy help increase personal autonomy. We all need other people, but we can need them as fellow humans to share our common humanity with, rather than feel bound to belong to a particular group and that group’s particular mindset.

Here’s a fitting section from Maslow which supports diversity and individual growth:

‘Just as all trees need sun, water, and foods from the environment, so do all people need safety, love and status from their environment. However, in both cases this is just where real development of individuality can begin, for once satiated with these elementary, species-wide necessities, each tree and each person proceeds to develop in his own style, uniquely, using these necessities for his own private purposes. In a very meaningful sense, development then becomes more determined from within rather than from without.’

So to attempt to sum up:

When you really do need to get out more, when you need a social outlet, then you must act. You can work with something small to begin with, just one weekly social activity can make a huge difference to your wellbeing. Just being around other people can be beneficial in itself.

We should watch out for value judgments. Spot them and defuse them. Don’t let them put you down or bring you down.

When you have determined you don’t actually need to get out more, when you are getting out enough for you as an individual, whether it be social or solo, remember what you have gained by giving up the feeling of missing out, of having to belong, and the very real fundamental freedom that can bring you. Be true to you and your own personal values.

Cheers for now!

(pics from Pixabay)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About lynnefisher

Writer and visual artist living in Scotland, INFJ type Writer's blog: lynnefisher.wordpress.com Art: lynnehenderson.co.uk Twitter @writeartblog Writers page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnefisherheadtoheadhearttoheart/ Artists page Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lynnehendersonartist/
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20 Responses to Musings On ‘You Should Get Out More’

  1. Ari says:

    Wonderful piece! This resonated with me so much. As an introvert with severe anxiety, any form of connecting with ppl in real life slways brings with it a sense of overwhelm until I know the location and ppl well enough to calm down.

    I too had an extrovert older sister who other ppl including my parents, compared me unfavourable to. I was the ‘bore’. The one who ‘didn’t want any fun’. The one who just stayed quiet.

    Despite spending my youth creating art, crafts, music, stories and learning a plethora of subjects, I was considered the failure because I wasn’t social. Comments about me becoming an old maid (while I was only 15) were common.

    My entire worth was predicated on how social I was, how much I spent outdoors. Oh but only outdoors with ppl. For I visited the fields and woods behind my house. Went yo the parks alone but that was not the right kind of ‘out’

    Like you I found that when I had to socialise, such as those mandatory fun days at work. Cus it ain’t fun if it’s not mandatory. That the ppl around me spoke lots but said little. It was exhausting trying yo show interest in the most mundane things such as discussions about reality tv, who changed thrir hair style, which bar had the cheapest beer….

    Thankfully my partner is just like me and we have the most fun together. Whether that’s having a long in-depth conversation for hours, or walking through nature in silence etc.

    It’s about being happy with who you are. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thank you so much for sharing, Ari! Wow, what a negative influence you had from your family, takes some getting my head around. I was ‘luckier’ in that my parents were introverts too, but hey, they liked dancing together and had some great holidays together before my father died. Now my mum is alone, my sister is always saying mum should get out more, she thinks it’s terrible my mum hasn’t got a social life. Shortly after Dad died I managed to get her going to art classes for a few years, which she did enjoy, but then she decided she’d had enough. When I ask Mum now whether she’s happy the way she is, she says yes. I can relate to you being compared to your sister, only in that I compared myself to my sister who is outwardly very successful…sometimes it takes years and advancing age to get beyond these entrenched attitudes. As you say, it’s about being happy with who you are and with time, my sister and I have come to an understanding on that one! Your story really resonates with me and I really appreciate you sharing it here :>)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. galenpearl says:

    I am a homebody. If I don’t need to go out anywhere, I’m happy to stay home…in my pajamas. I have been known to put sweats over my PJs in order to walk the dog. I can go several days without getting in my car. Same at my cabin. Once I’m there, I don’t get in my car again until it’s time to come home.

    I have a satisfying social life which involves friends stopping by for tea more than it involves going out to a concert, although I do like going out to eat now and then. Parties–not my thing.

    I don’t hear “you should get out more” as often as I hear that I should travel more. I haven’t been on an airplane for ten years. I’m not afraid of flying. There is just nowhere I want to go bad enough to go through the hassle of flying to get there.

    I was fortunate to travel all over the world and to live in several countries, so I do appreciate the wonders and richness of travel and living in other cultures. But now my explorations are internal through meditation and other practices, and I find them to be just as wonderful and enriching.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Wow, what a lovely balance, Galen. Being comfortable in your own company is so important – its the best thing of all, I feel. Your balance sounds perfect to me. On the subject of travel, I do sometimes get asked ‘are you going anywhere on holiday this year?’ My response is that I’ve enjoyed going to some wonderful places abroad and in the UK which will stay in my heart and mind forever (and you have obviously done plenty of this in the past) but right now there is nowhere I’m desperate to go to. The pull for me these days would be purely for nature, rather than culture. I understand exactly what you mean about the hassle of packing and flying – it really is a hassle and that has to be outweighed by the lure of the place for me to consider it now. We all have our own life paths and what is right for one stage in our lives doesn’t necessarily work for a later stage. So exploring internally is where you are at now and I totally empathise with that! Many thanks for sharing, Galen :>)

      Like

  3. Pingback: Love You More | Daily Inkling – Normal Happenings

  4. Rick Ellrod says:

    Lynne — funny that you should quote “Downtown.” That was kind of a theme song or inspiration of mine when I was starting high school, and seeking to become a little less introverted and a little more social. I didn’t become a social butterfly — but that was fine: I just shifted myself a bit toward a better balance of gregarious/reflective, introvert/extravert, social/intellectual. I think I need some of both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      Thanks, Rick! Interesting about Downtown…the lyrics just seem to fit the situation. When I went to the college to do science, I found my extrovert coming out very naturally for a while, so I took heart from that, after my introvert days at school. Needing some of both of these seemingly contrary ‘states of being’ suits me pretty well too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lynne, so much of this post resonates with me. I spent the first 40-some years of my life thinking I was an extrovert. Then, several years ago, I started wondering “what is wrong with me?” I had always needed space and quiet time after being with people, but the need for A LOT of space and quiet time developed. I discovered that all along I was an introvert. I just didn’t realize it. You’re right about the two tones of: You need to get out more! Sometimes, I say this to myself because it’s true! I enjoy getting out, I just need a lot of downtime in my garden afterwards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      So pleased you could relate, Cheryl. When I discovered my introvert status as an INFJ, so much made sense in retrospect – the push and pull of wanting to socialise and yet needing time along to get back to what I’m somehow really about was a BIG identifiying factor. When I worked in a store, I found myself doing sewing in my spare time and gardening of course. But when I began doing solo work/activities, I had to make sure I got out to be with people. I suppose it’s all about balance and that can shift depending on where one is along one’s ‘life path’ . Lovely to hear from you, as always :>)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that’s what brought our blogging worlds together, Lynne. I read one of your posts about being an INFJ, about the same time that I was ready to accept that I was truly an INFJ, too. I had the testing early on, but just couldn’t believe it for a long time. “I was the class clown, class rebel, youngest in a very loud Italian family.” How could I be INFJ? Ha! I also learned about defense mechanisms:) It is all about balance. I like being sort of outgoing some days, but mostly I like being in small groups, 2-3 people. That’s doable for me:) Your posts always speak to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Thanks Cheryl! I couldn’t remember whether you were INFJ or not – I was 60% sure that we had connected over that somehow though. Jungian types aren’t really explored over here in the Uk very much, but it made a huge difference to me when I discovered my type and that it rang so true. Same for my INTJ hubby – so spot on! Small groups are my second favourite to one to ones. I’m not shy in larger groups though, I have my say, and sometimes I have found myself leading people in small groups when they are being too reticent, too polite, and shy! There is an intolerance of shilly shallying about in me. A loud Italian background sounds fun and I can see it bringing out extrovert tendencies!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. inkbiotic says:

    A lovely post, and something I chat to myself about quite a lot. I’ve become kind of hidden away from the world in the last few months, but it gives me the chance to write and paint, so I can’t be sorry.
    As for nature – I think if it wasn’t my job to hang out in it all day, then I wouldn’t often bother and I’d wind up more miserable for it. Of course your love for nature shines out in your paintings and writing, anything that inspires you is going to be important.
    (note: I haven’t been around for a while, so hello! I hope you’re doing all well and creativity abounds!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynnefisher says:

      I was sure I sent a reply, Petra…but it seems not! Just to say it’s wonderful to have you back ‘online’ and I’m sure your encloistered spell has been well worth it! So no, don’t be sorry. It’s for similar reasons I’m doing a post only every two weeks for the time being. Lovely to hear from you :>)

      Like

      • inkbiotic says:

        Thank you Lynne! It’s great to hear from you too! It can definitely be wise to slow down the blogging a bit, it’s easy to get burnt out, and end up writing because you know you should, rather than because you want to. I’ll keep an eye out for when you do write though, your posts are always worth a read 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • lynnefisher says:

        Cheers, Petra! Yes, you’re right, It was becoming difficult to keep things fresh without going over old ground but i’m finding the slower pace fine! I will look out for you too :>)

        Liked by 1 person

      • inkbiotic says:

        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Libby Sommer says:

    great idea to consider our indoor/outdoor life balance. i like to be outdoors whenever possible in the daylight hours (sunshine behind the eyes is very good for mood, apparently), and cosily inside during the dark hours. like you, i find walking in nature to be inspirational. fuel for my creative life. thanks, Lyne for writing such a thoughtful post. leaves much to think about. i love the Maslow quote too.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a wonderfully well written piece that I think could help enlighten many seekers. I could so relate to your younger experiences – I remember trying so hard to be ‘normal’ to ‘fit in’ and every try just made me feel more and more alienated. I needed to learn to know about myself, without comparisons of good or bad, right or wrong being made. I think my aversion to the word ‘should’ stems from that time. Getting to know ourselves is, of course, a life time deal and we all benefit from someone telling us somewhere along the line that we are doing just fine. So we happily tick a few boxes and then we are free to discover we are more than that too. Your posts are great Lynne!

    Liked by 2 people

    • lynnefisher says:

      I’m so glad it resonated! And many thanks for sharing. Getting to know ourselves is indeed a life-time deal but every little thing, every experience helps and I was always conscious of this – thank God! So pleased and heartened you like my posts, thanks for telling me :>)

      Like

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