By Michele Bacigalupo
Photo courtesy of anoldent.
For introverts, traveling alone may sound like an all-access pass to nirvana. For others, it may seem intimidating. The company Sacred Introvert is changing the way people travel by placing an emphasis on introverted personalities and designing retreats that mix excursions with alone time.
Lisa Avebury, founder of Sacred Introvert, began her idea as a means to empower introverts all over the world. Sacred Introvert is hard to sum up in just one word. It’s a website, a blog–a group blog, where community posts are encouraged–as well as a company that offers retreats and workshops. Avebury describes herself as a “strong introvert,” and says she was inspired to begin the website after hearing Susan Cain’s TED Talk and reading her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
Avebury tells BTR, “I had an epiphany about myself and I realized that I was an introvert. Our tanks get full quicker than the average person.”
The mission of Sacred Introvert is to encourage people to embrace their personality type. According to Cain, anywhere from one-third to one-half of Americans are introverts, but few realize the significance of this fact. Avebury wants to remind people that a quiet, reserved demeanor is far from a “social dysfunction.” It’s not only an acceptable way to live, but something that deserves to be celebrated.
She defines a Sacred Introvert as “anyone who self-identifies as an introvert, shy person, quiet person or someone who needs quiet time on his or her own to recharge.”
The first Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour will take place in the beginning of May, offering a tour of England’s Glastonbury and surrounding areas. There will be sightseeing excursions scheduled to take place every other day, allowing people to recharge and relax in between activities. The organized itinerary will include tourist attractions, such as Stonehenge, as well as locations that are more off the map and unique.
Introverts are known for their need to spend a portion of their time alone, recharging from the exhaustion they feel after spending time with others. They differ from extroverts, who actually thrive off the energy of other people, and are happiest when their social calendars are full. In order for introverts to feel completely recharged, they must also know that they are free to roam during their alone time as they please, untethered from social obligations.
During the retreat, there will be optional itinerary items for people to do on days off, such as yoga, meditation, and walks. These are ideal for introverts–people who are prone to getting lost in thought–as they allow ample time for reflection. The activities are offered, but they are not forced upon anyone. Yoga and meditation may sound like solitary experiences, but people are free to turn them into social outings if they choose. Before these solo activities begin and immediately after they end, there are plenty of opportunities to chat with people nearby.
Another aim of Sacred Introvert is to bring like-minded people together, which it accomplishes through its workshops. There will be a workshop during the retreat focusing on the benefits of living an introverted lifestyle. Despite an introvert’s natural inclination to travel alone, a Sacred Introvert attendee may meet a new lifelong friend.
Presently, the travel industry does not specifically target people with introverted personalities. Its unfortunate for introverts that this is the case, as their personalities do not exactly thrive in a typical travel environment. Noisy tour guides and compulsory social gatherings can get under an introvert’s skin, disrupting their natural predilection for quiet reflection.
“I’ve done 99 percent of my traveling on my own,” says Avebury. “When I looked for tours to participate in, nothing fit my personality type. I thought about the idea of combining traveling experience with the feeling of a meditation retreat.”
In her book Quiet, Cain advises that acting as a “pretend extrovert” can be a helpful strategy in certain situations. An extra bit of gregariousness can help an introvert immensely when it comes to networking, dating, or any scenario where they desire to meet new people. Since our society leans in favor of extroverts, many introverts have already been practicing this pseudo persona for most of their lives.
“There is this stigma that introverts don’t like to socialize, and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” explains Avebury.
To a true introvert, small talk will always feel like a form of torture, but there are ways for a person to compensate for such conversation. By focusing on speaking with just one or two other people, introverts are more likely to develop a bond, since they are known to thrive on close connections.
The beauty of Sacred Introvert is that the majority of people attending a retreat or workshop will already understand all of this. As self-described introverts themselves, they will already be familiar with the complexities of the quiet lifestyle.
Be sure to tune into BTR’s Twenty-Something Traveler to hear more from Lisa Avebury.