Since my last blog post, I have been trying to emotionally recover from pulling out of school. I decided to go ahead and take some time off serving at church so I could regroup and figure out where to go from here. While at peace with the decision, it was easy for me to feel lost with no clear idea of what my next step should be. Work was proving to be difficult too, as summer is totally different than the school year in my department at work. By the end of the first session, I was feeling a bit smothered by people in general, overwhelmed, and confused. I was pretty excited that things worked out where I was able to get a paid “vacation” after only being there 4 ½ months. I seriously needed the reset time.
I decided to spend part of it with my kids, and the other part concentrating on me. It’s difficult as a mom to do that because we tend to feel guilty or selfish, but I knew I had to do it. Deciding to take the kids to the library proved fruitful for me, as I found a book called Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe. I was just going to get fiction books at the time, but I figured I might as well read to help improve my understanding of myself. I read that book and it had some great information. I had a little issue with the style of writing, not that it was bad, it was just not what I personally liked (still a good read overall). Then I set out on a journey to a couple of book stores (oh my goodness…how I LOVE bookstores!!!) and found the next books, Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Quiet by Susan Cain. I read Strengths Finder pretty quick and took the test, and found it very helpful in learning more about me. I am still working my way through Quiet, which I LOVE so far (definitely something to look into if you are an introvert).
So in all this reading and time off I have finally been able to deeply process stuff, which I haven’t had the time to do since starting my new job. There is so much I am learning about myself and being an introvert. I can’t begin to tell you the relief it is to finally understand that I am “normal” (whatever that means! LOL) and there is nothing wrong with me!
I have spent most of my life, and even in recent years, feeling like I was “broken”. There was strong pressure even at a very young age to talk to people and interact with people. I have a faded memory of when I was in about 2nd grade, and hearing a discussion about me needing to be in a speech or some other special class because I wasn’t talking much. I was a very intelligent child, teacher’s pet-type, but I hated talking in class and only had a couple of friends. That’s pretty much how I was through school, except add in a little weird to the mix by high school. Much to my mom’s dismay ( love ya, Momma 🙂 ) that meant dressing in a lot of baggy clothes, black, Converse, combat boots and lots of grunge rock…oh and don’t forget the strong desire to have purple hair (which sadly never happened….one day it will….even if I have to wait to be one of those crazy old ladies with too much of the “bluing” stuff in her gray hair lol)
In my adult years I have struggled so much with my social awkwardness. I always held this strong feeling of discontent about that part of my life. In one of my relationships, I was accused of a lot of things (that looking back were actually tied into being a depressed introvert. I can’t really explain it here without coming across as bashing the other person or revealing details I would rather not discuss at the moment) and highly pressured to be more extroverted. After my battle with depression was over, I had other things to work through, like actually figuring out who I am!
It was a difficult trying to figure out why I struggled in that area so much, but when I was reading Introvert Power, I read a section where it talked about shyness being different that being introverted, and that the 2 often overlap! It was one of those things I knew, but could never put in words. There has been a shift in me internally over the past year and a half or so. A kind of growing out of the shyness and growing into my introverted-ness. God has been helping me in overcoming my fears (which intensified my shyness and awkwardness), and in embracing how He created me. I love how He is using books to help show me that being an introvert has great strength in it, especially when fear and anxiety are removed from it. I am learning so much, and there is a freedom in knowing that I am not “broken”, I don’t need to be “fixed”.
It is also helping me be a better parent, as I can recognize my children’s introverted traits, and encourage them. At the same time I have to be careful with one who is more extroverted so I don’t try to “fix” her. I have to remind myself that even though I may need my down time, she needs her time with her friends to feel charged. I am also learning that she may not be as extroverted as I once believed! Every day, I am seeing that she could very well just be a healthier introvert that I was at her age 🙂
Overall, I feel like all this learning has been a relief! Between all this mentioned and some other things I have learned about my personality , spiritual gifts and insights from various friends in my life, I am seeing myself in a way I hadn’t before. So much of who I am had been tied up in who I was hanging around, what I thought would please those whom I loved or masked by depression… it was no wonder that I didn’t know who I was! God has been faithful to answer my prayers for help in this part of my journey, and I know there is so much more He will help me with as I go along. There is peace that comes from finding the missing pieces or in my case discovering the pieces that were hidden underneath. I can’t wait to see where He leads me to next!