40/60: My Life In Percentages

I spend a lot of time inside my own head. This is aside from the fact that I spend a lot of time by myself. When I do grace people with my unmatchable presence (ahem, sarcasm), around half the time I won’t be engaged in conversation. Instead, I’ll enjoy the comfortable coexistence while I drift off and start thinking about something that confused me in class that day, or my dogs, or often I’ll be cycling through song lyrics in my head. I say this would happen around 40% of the time when I’m with another person.

The other 60% of the time, I’m fully engaged in the conversation, to the point where an adrenaline rush clicks together the gears inside of me. This is a different side of myself that deviates from what I would expect to be my overall reserved personality, and it’s been somewhat of a ping-pong match in terms of my own identity and how I perceive myself in social situations. There’s a side of me that’s reserved and likes her alone time, and there’s the other side of me that’s outwardly energetic and goofy and annoyingly loquacious. 40% of the time I may come off as silent and painfully uninteresting, and the other 60% of me that may not be captured in a single moment while i’m behind a book or computer can make up for that.

My main issue of being an ambivert leaned toward the more introverted end of the spectrum is finding that balance between time for myself and time for the people around me. I love people. I’m really interested in a person’s story and what they are looking forward to in either the immediate or long-term future. While I may spend hours at a time by myself each day, I come out of these states craving someone to talk to, even if it’s just a stranger. I thrive in social settings where I know no one around me because it brings out that 60% side of me, while the other 40% of me is inclined to quietly coexist by the food table or stand awkwardly in a conversation circle and just listen.

Socially, I exist in a 40/60 balance.

I hate thinking in odds ratios. Ideally, when you’re applying to professional schools or on a job hunt, you always want to stack the odds in your favor. Killer resume. Killer interview. etc. Increase your odds. But when I take this to simple actions in life, do I want to stack my odds in my favor to make myself a better person? Well, no, because if I look at it that way, I make decisions based on what benefits me the most, and personally I would regard that as egocentric.

While I have a passion for helping others, I’ve also contemplated the balance of taking care of myself while I try to take care of the world around me. I have this issue where I devote myself way too much to other people, although it’s not the worst of problems if I were to put others’ interests ahead of my own. The issue lies more in the balance of it. To me, service is a mutually beneficial relationship. But what about helping my friends? To what great lengths do I stretch and hoops do I need to jump through to help another person out? Am I selfish if I don’t want to help another person if it doesn’t help me enough?

The answer? 40/60. Or roughly.

With the exception of service because it’s mutualism is more emotional and character-building at my end of the relationship, 40/60 is a good balance for me to think of when I reach some type of moral conflict in decision making. Simple actions in my life are 40% for my benefit, and 60% for the benefit of others. This is a rough number and as I’m currently thinking of simple actions such as washing the dishes in my apartment or holding a door open for someone, I think about the extents to which this balance can be applied. But it’s a good place to start, I guess.

Drew Dudley, a speaker on organizational and referent leadership, a type of leadership in which you gain the respect from those you lead, recently released a vlog on his experience with managing structured and unstructured time in his life. This vlog reaffirmed that even when you dedicate yourself to service and leadership, it is a necessity to step back and evaluate yourself along the way to ensure the best quality of your work.

That is, because you are so inherently devoted to what you do, it is an obligation to both who you serve and importantly, an obligation to yourself and your well-being, to keep yourself in check. When your obligations start becoming too centered around other people, maybe around 85–90%, you spread yourself too thin and lose control of your own life. The manifestation of this? Chronic stress, lack of sleep, a lot of anxiety, and ultimately a sheer lack of motivation. Which in turn affects what you do and the people around you.

Again, I’m not entirely sure if my ratio would be 40/60 in terms of actions I dedicate to myself and actions I dedicate to other people, but at least giving it somewhat of an objective value reaffirms that I can’t change everyone for their best interests when I’m biased to my own best interests. If that makes sense.

This mathematical blueprint still helps me come to terms with who I am as an individual so I don’t become too entangled in the lives of the people around me. It provides a little bit more structure to my mess of a world, yet it is still very subject to change. It allows me to provide basis to get things done in the way that I want to, in which I can be a referent leader and overall respectable person in society. It’s my simple way of applying 2nd grade math to organizational complexity, and it works for me. It might not work later in my life, but it feels like a good place to start.