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Posts Tagged ‘shyness’

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!

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Back in January I blogged a bit on my struggles with social anxiety. (see : Hi My Name is Kristie…) Hard to believe that was 9 months ago! Anyway, just wanted to post a little update on how that part of my journey is going.

In these past months, God has pushed me so much and as a result of me allowing Him to mold me, I have come so far. The fear part is slowly going away, and most days I can push through and not think about what a dork I might be. It’s getting a little bit easier to let my guard down and be myself around others. It wasn’t that I was pretending to be someone else, but that I would hold back so I wouldn’t get hurt. As a result of letting my guard down, God has blessed me with so many new friends. While we may not be close yet, I see the beautiful beginnings of friendships I have wanted for so long. And I am starting to see and believe I am not alone in my journey.

I am still struggling a little bit. There are times I run into people at the store, or I am in some other social situation and I am so challenged! I want to say and do the right and/or polite thing and get to know people better…but I seem to get lost in thought trying to figure out what my response should be. There are times where I walk away and pray that the other person realizes that I wasn’t trying to be rude. Other times, I sit in awkward silence with a person, wanting to know more about them, but just draw a huge blank as to what to say. I can’t help but laugh a little at myself at times like this, because looking back its quite comical to me.

I feel like God has helped me conquer a huge chunk of the social anxiety. I still have to work on some things, but I know He will continue to show me what to say in different situations. He is also helping me in dealing with being introverted. I am learning that there are things I can do to help me manage that side of me, so I can be more social without feeling so worn out. One of the biggest things is that there are times that I NEED to have quiet and “reset”. Ideally, I should have some downtime every night while the kids are in bed. Sometimes I have to do it in the morning or even just keep the radio off at night (which was really hard at first!) If I do one of those, then it seems I don’t feel so overwhelmed. If I don’t have that downtime, or it’s a crazy week, then sometimes I HAVE to take an evening or day (whether my kids like it or not) and stay home. I make sure it’s just for that day, and I don’t let it become an everyday thing (or I could fall into depression). But I find if I don’t take any time, I can get so cranky, anti-social and frustrated so easy. So hopefully that is a tip that can help others struggling with similar issues.

God is so good! He has done so much for me! I can’t tell you how good it feels to have others notice what He has done in my life over the past few years. I won’t take credit for it, because without Him I could have never have done any of it. I am thankful for the hope and healing He brings in ALL situations. And even if I don’t feel like I am getting to where I need to me, I KNOW and EXPECT that He WILL do something! So here I am, and can’t wait to see what God does next in my life!

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Now that we got that out of the way, time to dive into this blog post. lol! It seems that this has been something that has been in my heart lately, probably because I both love and that I am that way. A couple of years ago I wrote a post about hating that I am shy. I didn’t think much has changed since then (as far as the frustration of that part of me) but I know God has been causing me to think on it more and more.

For as long as I can remember, I have been shy, and anxious around people. The problem is that you can’t avoid being around them unless you want to be seriously messed up. I end up feeling torn  because I feel that way but I also have the intense need for fellowship with other people. I used to accept it just who I was, and I can’t change that…but I am pretty sure God called me on my crap lol. I have went through part of my life not caring what others think and speaking my mind. Then the more I got hurt by others, the more I pulled back. The more I pulled back, the more depressed I got.

I know without a doubt and believe that God has healed me of my depression. I am so thankful for that!!! But I also know that there is always a possibility I could fall back into depression, if I don’t learn to deal with triggers.  One of my triggers happens to be fear (anxiety). Fear can be healthy in truly dangerous situations, but in everyday life, it takes the focus off of what reality is. My social anxiety causes me to over analyze each situation.  There are many reasons why: I don’t want to embarrass myself, I want other people to like/accept me, sometimes for reasons I can’t figure out.  I get so worked up, I can hardly talk straight and I think I won’t make it through.

When I look at this side of me logically, I kind of laugh at it.  It seems so silly for those who don’t struggle with it…but it’s a very real problem. I see how absurd it is…to be fearful of talking with people I don’t know…to be scared of some new situation. I struggle to make friends… I don’t get it. This is probably the one area of my life that the enemy routinely attacks from, and I have got to stop it.

God has already done so much  in my life in the past year and a half.  Before that, I was withdrawn, depressed…just letting life happen… waiting to die. I was so deep into depression and anxiety, I really believe it messed up my brain function (it’s tough to describe, but things are just different than what they were) I had pushed away any and everybody I had ever cared about, convinced nobody could every really care for me. Over this time period, I have been healed (thank you,Jesus!!!!) of the depression. The healing from the anxiety has been slower. I continue to push myself by serving in different areas at church. I love helping others, and doing what I can.

I had been doing alright for a while, but there have been a couple of situations over the last couple of weeks that reminded me that I still have a long way to go. God has also been reminding me over and over, that He wants ALL of me…not just little bits. By letting this fear run my life, I am not trusting God to take care of those situations and I am not giving Him everything.  And that ties into a fear of completely letting go….ugh! lol  I know that as I let go, then God can fill those areas where fear tends to take over.

I used to pray that God would make me different…that I would be bold and outspoken. I have had dreams/visions of speaking in front of crowds sharing my story of how God has changed me. I still want those things, just not in the same degree. I want to embrace myself for who God has created me to be. I may not be overly bold or outspoken. I may never speak in front of crowds,but my reason should not be based out of fear

Psalms 27:1  Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

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