I am now on my third week trying to find balance again and it's a slow process. This is because in order for me to find balance I need time alone and that is very hard to come by these days. It also require you to understand what you need, which is something that comes from experience and understanding yourself. For many this is very hard as we live in a world where being introvert is looked down upon, even if it is in all of us.
I am fortunate that I was born and raised in a way that makes me more independent than most. My self esteem is pretty high and I have little to no interest in impressing others or the need to conform to the ways of others. This is not how most people feel and I see and hear people all the time struggling with the need to fit in with the need to find balance in life.
That balance is hard to come by as we live in a society designed by the rules of the extrovert. Our social behavior is very much based on extrovert activities and behavior related to introvert activities are not always socially acceptable. Just consider how you would react if someone you know and care for would decline a party invite from you because they feel the need to be alone instead. You most likely find that unusual at best and offensive at worst.
The thing is however that being introvert or extrovert is not a binary thing. Everyone have both sides in them, they are just more or less dominant. You should also understand that extrovert behavior is not always the true nature of different individuals. In some cases it is used to avoid dealing with emotional issues. Others use the good old fake it until you make it even if they are by nature more attuned to the introvert side.
Once you realize that you have two sides in you things get less complicated. This usually comes with age as you become less focused on being liked by others. This allow you to let yourself be socially awkward and by doing so allowing yourself to find a balance in life. In fact most people that claim to have found balance or enlightenment do so in some form of solitude.
In a world where we are constantly being bombarded through our computers and phones it becomes increasingly difficult to find serenity. This is why noise cancelling headphones are pretty much everywhere as we try to find moments to be alone even among others. Others turn to walking or running as a way to clear their minds. If you look around you there will be many signs of people finding ways to be alone even if they do not even realize that this is what they are doing.
Once you get drained of energy this constant bombardment make recovery harder. If you are drained of energy every "must" becomes an anvil that continue to drag you down into the darkness below. It can be as simple as a mail that you need to respond to or a request from your significant other to take out the trash. Even the simplest things can seem unmanageable until you get some of that energy back.
For me this means that I need to turn off the world around me. I watch movies or read a book. The most important aspect is that if I feel even the slightest issue with something, I will not do it. This may seem egotistical, but it is necessary for you to get that first energy boost back. Spending energy you do not have is a sure way to burn yourself out and the road back from that is a very long one indeed. So if your energy is very low, then you need to be a bit egotistical.
Finding that balance in life where you can be extrovert for work, but still have enough time to be introvert is very important for your health. If you do not have the option to be introvert at home, then make room for it at work. Have meeting free days or schedule time for focused work to make spaces in your day where you can be introvert. Take walks or go to the gym alone. Go swimming or any activity that allow you some alone time. Find that breathing hole in your daily routine and you can find balance even in hectic lives.
Also remember that even if you are mostly introvert you will get energy from social interactions. You just need to find the type of interaction that works for you. For me helping others or learning new things are things that give me energy. Things that stimulate my prefrontal cortex are positive things, while things that does not stimulate that are of my brain cost energy. This is why encounters where meaningful conversations are limited, such as parties or where repeat conversations on topics I find uninteresting, are activities I try to avoid or reduce.
I know many introverts who struggle with a situation where you do not want to be alone, but you also struggle with small talk as it cost energy. For you I just want you to know that it is not an uncommon combination and it's absolutely fine to not be the center of attention all the time. Just listening and not engaging all the time is perfectly ok. If you feel awkward, then use the good old question trick where you let others talk and you just add a question here and there to get them going if they stop. Most extroverts love to talk as it give them energy, so engaging them through questions will save you energy and give them energy, which is a win-win for everyone.
Finding social gatherings that you find interesting will give you energy as well. Meaningful, deep conversation that engage you in a positive way can make wonders for your energy levels. Finding out what those are however can be a bit tricky. For me I can talk about psychology or games for days. For you it can be about cars, cosplay or politics for example. Anything that peak your interest is something that probably will continuously give you energy.
So the trick is to find out what social activities give you energy and which ones that cost energy. Once you have that nailed down, then you can start finding that balance between the two.
Now I am going to go back to filling up my energy levels and I will do so by shutting down this computer and do the dishes before I settle down for a good read. I might take a walk in this wonderful sunlight as well before I have to drain some energy be going to the dentist.
I hope you have a great, and balanced, day.