No, Really, I AM an Introvert.

introvert fishI’ve told my husband for years that I’m an introvert. He’s always disagreed. He says something along the lines of, “I’ve seen you be social when you want to be. You’re really outgoing. You’re an extrovert.” Truthfully, until I read the Huffington Post article the other day, I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an introvert. All I meant was that I often feel awkward in social settings and being around people can be so exhausting. Turns out there’s even more to it that that. While both of those traits do fit in with the introvert experience, there’s so much more about my personality that makes sense now that I’ve read that list. Yesterday, I touched on some of the highlights for me. Today I’m going to add my commentary to each of their 23 points. Maybe it will be enough to convince my sweet husband that, even though I have high energy and do enjoy socializing with people I know, I really am an introvert.

First, I’d like to point out that in the introduction the article states that a lot of introverts can be social butterflies and pass as extroverts. I think this is why my hubby refuses to accept that I am really an introvert. Just because I don’t hide in the corner, doesn’t mean I’m not an introvert. The article says that the social aspect is really only a small piece of this personality.

Next, I find it fascinating that the American Psychological Association considered listing “introverted personality” in the DSM as recently as 2010. I certainly understand what they may have been considering. At times, being introverted certainly can feel debilitating. But, overall, it’s not really something that holds me back. It’s just something I have to cope with and make accommodations for. It’s just part of who I am.

Now for their traits…

1.You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.

Oh my gosh! All I can say is AMEN! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “I used to think you were such a b**ch until I got to know you.” Umm…thanks? Glad you took the time to get to know me. I’m really not a b**tch (well…at least not most of the time), but I think this trait is why people perceive me that way. I don’t think I’m better than you, I just really can’t stand having to talk about nothing. To me, it seems like we’re both above that.

This trait is also is to blame for the awkwardness that ensues when random strangers approach me to talk about how cute my baby is. I can tell you all about my baby, but, my guess is, you don’t really care. I just don’t know where else to go from there. You said she’s cute. I said thanks. Now what?

bill lumburg2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.

You’re having a party? Awesome! I love parties!! But if I could get the guest list in advance to ensure the ratio to people I know to people I don’t know is within my comfort zone, that would be great.

Sure, it’s nice to know a lot of people, but getting to know them is pretty tricky. I think if more people could master good introductions, this would be so much more bearable. You know, when someone says, “Oh! Mary. I want you to meet my friend Suzie. Suzie blah blah blah blah (insert some kind of relevant information about Suzie’s life, career, pet iguana.) Being able to start a conversation with real information helps so much when meeting new people. Otherwise, see # 1 about my dislike of small talk.

3. You often feel alone in a crowd.

I’ve written about this before. I thought this was just the result of my lifestyle choices. Most people treat me like I’m some kind of three-legged freak, so I often feel like one. Maybe there’s more to it than that?

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.

This is reason # 1 that I couldn’t hack it in Mary Kay. I loved so much about that organization, but I can’t network. I feel like such a fraud when I try. What’s worse is I felt like, even when I wasn’t networking, people would think I was phony, assuming I just wanted to sell something to them rather than just hang out or be friends.

5. You’ve been called “too intense.”

There was a group at the fraternity house where I used to hang out that would sit on the porch and talk for hours. We would talk about all kinds of things: philosophy, books, movies, science, music, history… Everyone always said we were being “too intense.” That we just needed to grab a beer and let loose. We were much more content sitting with our beer and talking about all sorts of things. That’s not to say I never “let loose,” only that I was frequently accused of being “too intense.”

6. You’re easily distracted.

I find this particularly interesting. I have ADHD, which also involves being easily distracted. I’d love to see some work done on how ADHD presents in introverts vs. extroverts. Apparently, I have no hope. Between the two, I’m not likely to ever finish a task, or even a sentence….

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

Maybe this is why I long for the beach. I get lots of down time.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.

I crave downtime. I need it. If I don’t get enough of it, I can’t function. I just end up breaking down. When I was working at our church, I had to take Thursdays completely off. I worked 10-12 hours on Wednesdays, and it was usually my last day of work for the week. On Thursday, I had to veg out. I worried that I was just being lazy, but I knew that I needed it. The kids loved just having a day to chill. They thought I was being “cool.” I was just trying to stay sane. Now that I’m not working outside the home, I still need it, just not in such massive quantities. This is the added benefit to the quiet time we have each day. I get to sit down with my coffee or lunch or whatever and recharge. It makes for a much smoother evening when I’m running on fresh batteries.

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards.

I talked about this one yesterday. I’ll just sum it up by saying this is so true!

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.

Always! Or at church. Or the movie theater. Or anywhere. I need to be able to escape easily. Luckily, my kids make for a handy excuse. “I might need to slip out with the baby, so I should sit on the end.”

I also strategically pick my spot at tables in restaurants. It has to have a combination of a good view (I don’t want to be staring at the wall) and an easy escape. Interestingly, I rarely do escape, but I need to feel that I could. I can’t stand to feel trapped. 

10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.

Yes, yes, yes! This is part of the reason I had to take Thursdays off in # 7. The same applies to play dates, shopping trips, even vacations. I need a good balance of activity and down time.

That's not me, that's my beautiful sister. And that's my hubby...being an extrovert?

That’s not me; that’s my beautiful sister, Meghan. And that’s my hubby…being an extrovert?

11. You’re in a relationship with an extrovert.

Most definitely. Having read this list, I’d be interested to find a similar list of extrovert traits. I’d love to know what pieces of his personality are tied to his extroversion that I’ve never noticed. Major plus to being in a relationship with an extrovert: I let him handle the small talk whenever possible. I just stand there and smile.

12. You’d rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.

So true! There’s so much to learn about everything. You can always go deeper. I can’t imagine being satisfied with surface level knowledge of everything with no deep knowledge of anything. I need to go deep. I need to understand why.

13. You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation.

Umm, of course. I would die if I had to be that sap that got called on stage.

On the same token, there’s nothing worse than being in a workshop when the presenter says, “Now I want you to turn to your neighbor and share your responses to these three questions…” Can we not? I came to hear you, the supposed expert, talk, not the random lady sitting beside me. More than that, I don’t really want to “share” anything with her. I don’t even know her.

14. You screen all your calls — even from friends.

Yes! A million times a day. I can’t help it. I hate phone calls. I thought the article described it perfectly. To me, it really feels like you just jumped out of my closet and shouted, “BOO!” I just can’t deal with that. I’ll call you back when I’m mentally prepared to deal with you. Oh, and when none of my children are screaming. Waiting for those two stars to align could take a while. I’m sorry. This truly is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

15. You notice details that others don’t.

I’m incredibly detail-oriented. I never would have guessed this is somehow correlated with being an introvert.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.

When I first read this I thought, “Doesn’t everybody?” Apparently not. I find this fascinating.

The description also mentioned that introverts need to think first and talk later. This is so true. This is why the thought of taking Q&A’s petrifies me. Not because I won’t know the answer, just because I need to process my thoughts for a minute before answering. I can’t just start talking. I need to think for a minute. This is also why I hate being called on in class. I really did do the reading assignment. I just don’t answer very well on the spot. I need a minute to think.

17. You have low blood pressure.

Always. Even when I’m pregnant.

18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.

When I was a teenager, my friends always told me how wise I was, especially when we were dealing with boy problems or parent problems. I never really understood why. It was usually after I verbalized what seemed to be incredibly obvious. Maybe this is why? I don’t really know. This hasn’t happened to me in years.

Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

2009 Final Four games at the Alomodome in San Antonio, TX. 43, 715 in attendance!

19. You don’t feel “high” from your surroundings

This is the only one that I can’t immediately identify with. Perhaps, neurochemically (which is what the article describes) this is true. I have no way of knowing. What I do know is that I love huge concerts and sporting events and other ginormous situations. I think it’s awesome to be part of something so big and so exciting where everyone is so passionate about the same silly thing. I love that.

20. You look at the big picture.

Always. Even when I don’t want to. The good news is, this is probably why I never got in any “real” trouble in college. I did a lot of questionable things, but I was never willing to put my scholarship in jeopardy. This ruled out a lot, since getting in trouble with the campus or the police certainly would have done so.

21. You’ve been told to “come out of your shell.”

For as long as I can remember. Usually, my solution is to surround myself with people who are out of theirs. It seems to camouflage the fact that I’m perfectly content in mine. Or maybe this just leads more people to thinking I’m a b**ch? (see # 1) Who knows?

22. You’re a writer.

Indeed. I always have been. I’ve kept a journal since the 7th grade. When I was in 1st grade, I started writing letters to my parents explaining why I was running away. (That was probably a tad dramatic, but I’m just illustrating that I’ve always been more comfortable expressing myself in writing.)  Maybe one day, when the kids are bigger, I’ll make something substantial of it.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity.

This is so true. I’ve touched on this in # 7 and # 10. I definitely have a threshold of activity. I have to have a balance between work and fun and rest. When that balance gets out of whack, I get very stressed out and very cranky. I don’t think as clearly, and I don’t operate as productively. It’s not just being lazy; I really need the downtime to be able to function as a normal human being.

This need makes weekends challenging for me. I have two days to hang out with my husband, to unwind with him, and to get things done with him. I usually don’t balance it out very well, which leaves me disappointed every Sunday. I always feel as if we wasted the weekend. Maybe now that I’m more conscious of the way I cycle through these things, I can plan more balance, and, thus, get more satisfaction out of our weekends together.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend's wedding. I think it's moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

Singing and dancing on stage with the band at my friend’s wedding. (I’m the one in the blue dress, just right of center, behind the bride) I think it’s moments like this that make my husband doubt that I could possibly be an introvert.

Hello! My name is Introvert

name tag

Last night, I read an article that I absolutely loved. It was like the author had known me all my life and was writing specifically about me, only made it sound general, like it applied to other people too. It was kind of neat to read something that was so spot on, but it was also kind of disheartening. So much for being wholly unique. Obviously, I’m more than just what this article observes, and I realize that is where my uniqueness comes in, but I was flabbergasted at the degree of accuracy to which these generalities applied to me. There was not one piece of the article that did not apply to me at least somewhat, but the majority of it (like 99% of it), I was like, “Oh my gosh! Yes! That is so me!” So, without further ado, if you want to understand my world (or are just completely bored), I give you…

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert from the Huffington Post.

(Click text above to link to article.)

Now, next time you run in to me, and I get all squirmy when we start talking about the weather, you won’t have to worry whether you have bad breath or if maybe I have to pee really badly or something. You’ll just know that that’s just me in all of my awkward glory.

And, no, I don’t screen your calls because I’m mad at you. The way I see things, you just jumped into my kitchen out of nowhere, and that’s a little much for me to take. I’ll call you back when I’m mentally prepared to do so. (I know, I’m such a weirdo! But I’m so relived to know that my “weirdness” has a source!)

By the way, I’m quite surprised to learn about this whole internal monologue thing. You mean everyone doesn’t have that? Fascinating…I never knew.

Also, I’m so glad to know that its not simply immaturity that makes me want to communicate exclusively by email. I’m simply aware that I communicate much better in writing than I do with real words. It’s not that I’m a product of some technological generation. If I were born centuries ago, I think I would have had to invest in a personal courier. Or become a hermit.

However, I have been asked to give talks from time to time. In fact, it was kind of a crucial component of my most recent job. I take no issue with that. In fact, I think I’m quite good at it. But talking at a bunch of strangers from the front of the room or the safety of the stage is much different than talking to them after. Also, it’s likely that I’m talking about something I consider important instead of just nonsense. This is why, if you ever see me give a talk, I desperately try to enter the room as close to the beginning of the talk as I can, and escape as quickly after.

Interestingly, despite my fears, when I do get caught after, it’s usually not awkward at all. And now I know why. It’s not random small talk. It’s usually about the content of whatever I just said. And I can deal with that.

I’m seriously considering deleting my entire “about me” page and posting in the contents of this article. What can I say? I’ve been pegged.

Hello! My name is Mary, and I’m an introvert.

My world makes so much more sense now.

Love is a Battlefield

boundariesFor whatever reason, one of the most viewed posts on my blog this week has been a “breakup letter” of sorts. I wrote it many years ago…2008 to be exact. And if that doesn’t date the letter enough, it was originally published on my MySpace page! Just for giggles I tried to log in to my MySpace page, but I couldn’t. Guess my poor page was canceled due to inactivity or something. I’m pretty sure I’ve admitted once before that I was truly sad to see MySpace fall by the wayside. My page was absolutely adorable. Being the perfectionist that  I am, I worked on it regularly, ensuring it looked just right and portrayed me just the way I wanted to be seen. No such luck with Facebook. Same boring blue for everyone.

Truly though, this isn’t a post about Myspace. Or Facebook. It’s about the blog entry that has been so popular this week. More than that, it’s about me.

Believe it or not, I don’t talk about me very well. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite topics. My discomfort with the topic of me was the root of the difficulty I was experiencing when I referred to blogging as virtual exhibitionism many moons ago. It was also what made me cringe and…let’s be real…come close to having a panic attack…when I saw what had been drudged up from my past.

But then something happened. In the midst of the sheer terror involved with thinking someone may have caught a glimpse of the real me, the interior me, the me I work so hard to keep inside, I realized something even more upsetting.

I could have written that entry recently.

I could have written it this morning, even.

I’m fighting the same battle today that I was 5 years ago.

The same, infuriating battle that has no hope for resolution.

The same battle that drains so much of my energy can often (albeit, less often than in the past) consume me, and always leaves me drowning in a pool of my own rage and unmet needs.

Intellectually, I know many of the right answers. If I were my own friend, I know how I would coach myself to develop and demand healthy boundaries. I know what I would say to help validate the feelings I’m experiencing, but then start working to release the emotional hold those feeling maintain. I know exercises to identify cognitive distortions and retrain automatic thoughts…

But none of that matters.

I’m trapped in the same place I was five years ago with very little improvement.

And it’s infuriating.

The truth is, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to move past this without professional counseling. But I’m just not willing to let her spend my money on top of all that she’s cost me emotionally. I know, I know…that’s very mature, right?

I wish I had a happy conclusion for this post. A light-hearted look at what I’ve gained from this experience and how I’m attempting to grow. But it just doesn’t exist. At least not right now. Right now it just hurts. And I just feel trapped. Right now, I guess both she and I just need your prayers. Thanks.

32

32Based on the amount of times this video has appeared in my newsfeed – and the “Bahahaha!! THIS IS SO FUNNY…because it’s TRUE!” comments that accompany it – it seems like this little parody has really struck a chord with women in their early thirties. I really have no idea why. Other than her love of cheese and her dental procrastination (neither of which is new to my thirties) I can’t relate to it at all. Does this mean I’m out of touch with the average woman my age? Maybe so. And if that is what it means, I have never been so grateful to be out of touch. Are most women out there really this bored and boring? So frustrated, yet so satisfied with their monotony? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a stick in the mud. I understand that is supposed to be funny. I just don’t think it is. In fact, I thought it was pretty darn depressing.

Despite tedious moments, my life is exciting and wonderful. A new adventure every day. Like the the lady in the video, I may not want more than one drink when I go out, but that’s because I have too much to live for the next day to be confined to the couch with a headache. I, too, love my sweatpants, but that’s because I’ve reached a point of personal liberation in which I don’t care if I’m stylish or not. I, too, am somewhat of a recluse, but that’s becasue nothing outside of my home can hope to compare to the value of what I have within. So I guess I’m just trying to say: I don’t get it. And I’m glad I don’t.

Me Time

me-timeA couple weeks ago, my sweet friend took my boys to her house for a day of cookie baking, playing with playdough, and swinging at the park so I could relax with Leila. We’ve been trying to work this out since right after the baby was born. The initial intention was for me and the little princess to take a nice long nap together. Now that she’s 6 months old (WHAT?? How did that happen??) I’m not desperately in need of sleep like I was at the beginning, so I figured I’d spend the day grocery shopping or catching up on homework. Since it was the end of the semester, and I still had two papers to write, a test to take, and a final to study for, school won out. I put the baby to bed, sat down at the table with my computer, Bible, concordance, Catechism & course notes, and tried to get to work.

But I couldn’t.

It was just too quiet. How do people think when it’s so quiet? It was so quiet I could hear the water moving in the fish tank! I just couldn’t focus in all that quiet! (I know, I know…something’s wrong with me…) Needless to say, I didn’t get much work done.

Since I’m never, ever home alone, (Literally. I don’t know if I’ve ever been home alone since we started having kids.) I decided to have a “me” day. First, I was totally bummed because it’s FREEZING outside. I would have loved to grab a Bud Light Lime and go lay out in the backyard. Cold aside, there were still good times to be had.

So just what did I do with my stolen time? Well, let me tell you:

  1. I listened to lots of old favorite songs that I would never, ever expose my kids to. We only listen to kid songs or Christian music when the kiddos are home. We decided to use media as a force to backup our morals instead of questioning them for as long as we are able. We know that the time will come when the situation will reverse.
  2. I jumped on my bed. Yes, I really did.
  3. I danced around wildly to my blaring old jams. We dance around all the time, but it was still way fun.
  4. I took some selfies on Photo Booth.
  5. I watched the Teen Mom 2 season finale.
  6. I had a few facebook conversations with old friends. (I so much rather would have had lunch with them, but they are far away. A phone call would have been nice, but facebook allowed me to talk to several of them at once. I guess sometimes I don’t hate facebook after all.)

All of this silliness lead to a few epiphanies. Being rather thick, none of them hit me immediately. They’ve been slowly developing over the weeks that have past since that day.

Epiphany Number 1: (Thanks to my school friend, Callie.) I’ve been a total hypocrite about silence. Not a hypocrite really, just every bit as much in need of learning the value of it as everyone else I meet.

Epiphany Number 2: (Thanks to my spiritual director.) I absolutely have to let go of the “shoulds” that I impose on myself.

Epiphany Number 3: (Thanks to a car ride to Missouri with my sweet husband and confirmed by this little article.) I have to start taking care of myself. It’s my job, not my husbands. He can certainly help, but, ultimately, it’s my responsibility.

I know I often make false promises about what I plan to write about next, but my intention is to write more about each of these epiphanies and link them to this entry. We’ll see how that plays out…

me-time-word-artIn the meantime, the moral of the story is it’s ok to take care of myself. In fact, it’s more than ok, I have an obligation to do it so that I can properly fulfill my other duties. I’ve heard this millions of times, but never really took it to heart. Maybe I even quietly thought that it was something that only wimps needed to do. But as one who has spent the last 6 months (or 3 years…or 14 years…depending on when you start counting) feeling as if I’m one straw away from a broken back, I finally see the truth in it. It’s time to start taking care of me. Now I just have to figure out how to start doing that.

Moving at His Own Pace

One of the many things that appealed to me about homeschooling was the ability to progress at my kids’ own pace. Their studies will never have to move so quickly that they are left behind, and they won’t be forced to do busy work despite having already mastered a concept. I spent most of my academic career on either side of that fence. Mostly, I was bored to tears because we spent way to much time on concepts that I grasped quickly. This lead to complete apathy on my part. I never did any homework, always planning to complete it the class period prior to it being due, since I viewed my being in class a complete waste of my time. However, when I was younger, from about 5th – 7th grades, I was beyond lost in math. Ironically, this also lead to apathy, as it appeared, regardless of the effort I put in, I would never grasp those concepts. Thankfully, my mother got an incredible math tutor for me and she turned my math woes around. Knowing that neither position is one that ignites a love of learning, I am more than pleased to never have to put my children in either situation.

But there’s one little problem…

In our recent phonics studies, I’ve found that the pace at which I would like to move is much different from the pace at which Andy is prepared to move. This has led to more than a few tense moments of me pleading “sound it out” as he guesses through a string of words that we covered that day. It makes me crazy. But I just keep pushing. And then he gets frustrated. And wants to quit. Which also makes me crazy. I quickly developed a hatred for phonics, very seriously considered switching phonics programs, and then had the epiphany that neither phonics nor our curriculum was the problem. It’s me.

I have an agenda. I want to move through this a quickly as possible. I want him to be ahead of the pack. I want all our family and friends who are critical of our decision to homeschool to have to eat crow when they see him reading at a 6th grade reading level in 1st grade. (Ok…I’m not quite that crazy…but I’m not far off either.) I’m pushing him into one of the situations I hate most about a traditional classroom. But I’m even worse. I’m not pushing him forward or holding him back for the good of 20 other students, I’m doing for my own pride. My own sinful, selfish pride.

I wholeheartedly believe that we made the right decision when we chose to homeschool this year. I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. But if I keep up like this I’m essentially self-sabotaging: He’s going to hate learning and I’m going to hate teaching. I’m just grateful I came to this realization early on. Now, knowing the issues I have with my pride, we’ll just have to see how many times I have to fight this battle with myself over the next 17+ years.

Say it with me: I will teach my children at their own pace. I will teach my children at their own pace. I will teach my children at their own pace…

I mean so what if he’s in 4th grade and is just finally learning to write his own name? This is about them, not me, right? (And for all my critics reading this: don’t worry, he already knows how to write his name. I’m just making a point.)

 

A Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime

My mom used to have a plaque in our hall bathroom that said something along the lines of “Every experience God puts in your life is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see.” It was a gift to her from her youth group when we moved away from Columbus. It was blue and white and kind of looked beachy to me. I always loved that plaque. I remember standing in that bathroom as a 4th grader reading it again and again, pondering what exactly that meant, wondering what this future may be that I may have already somewhat caught a glance of through my, albeit limited at the time, life experiences. That saying has always stuck with me, and I usually see it’s truth in retrospect.

Truthfully, this entry isn’t going to be nearly as insightful or nostalgic as it may appear, but the anecdote above applies nonetheless.

I’ve been in the process of getting rid of all my Mary Kay stuff. What I didn’t sell, I’m donating to a domestic violence shelter. Anytime I’m at the end of a road, I tend to look back and consider how I got there, evaluate the journey, and think what I might have done differently. Surprisingly, closing this chapter has been really easy for me. I guess it helps that it’s technically been closed for several months, but I’m just now getting  around to cleaning up the mess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely sad to leave Mary Kay behind, but my life has changed dramatically, and it’s simply not one of my priorities anymore.

Anyway, as I was bagging stuff up, I found myself in disbelief about how much I was taking away from my time with Mary Kay. I am thoroughly impressed and amazed at how much I grew as a person as a result of being mentored by those women. Every week, I stand on stage and talk to 300+ kids. I regularly talk to large groups of parents. I’ve spoken in front of our entire congregation. I lead meetings with my volunteers and catechists. Before MK, I barely passed my Oral Communications class. In fact, I only passed Oral Comm because I dropped it once and retook it with some GA who didn’t care what we did as long as we made some small effort at speaking coherently in front of the class. Before MK, I’m not sure that I had the confidence to lead anyone anywhere, let alone stand up in front of a group of people who are old enough to be my parents and gain their respect as their leader. Before MK my faith was nothing more than motions that I wanted my kids to see, not a real, living, life-changing relationship that I long to share with the young people of our church. Before MK I don’t think I really even knew who I was or where I was going, and I especially didn’t know how to set goals or manage my time in such a way that I could accomplish those goals with ease.

The directors in Mary Kay say that women come into Mary Kay for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. At one point I thought I was the lifetime person, upon my departure I decided I must have just been meant for a season, now I realize that I was most definitely there for a reason. I will be forever grateful to the amazing women in Mary Kay who had such a strong impact on my life, both in helping me achieve my goals as a consultant, and helping me become the woman I am today.