What's Wrong With Me, Anyway?
I am struck by how many people believe that there is something wrong with them, if they’re not like the people who are popular, and the people they look up to. They come to therapy, wanting to be changed/fixed to become like the person who seems so well-liked, and whose life seems easy. There are many different systems for figuring out what categories people fall into, and there is a misapprehension that there’s something wrong with being introverted, or having a different way of being in the world, when there’s not one way of being. It is true that North American culture values extraverts more than introverts, but that only is a reflection of the culture itself, and isn’t a reflection on the value of the actual qualities.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, divides people into 16 distinct categories based on 4 different dichotomies. Many people struggle with trying to be something that they are not, and live in stress most of the time. When you can actually live out of your strengths, and your innate characteristics, it makes life more fulfilling, and satisfying, and a lot less work. Some clients struggle with real or perceived rejection that they’ve experienced by family, school peers, work peers, or friends. This is a common experience, and one that is very damaging. This is especially difficult when one has been labelled or ostracized. Being able to see who you are, and value those parts of yourself, allows you to believe in yourself and your abilities, and fills the future with possibilities. It brings you to that place of peace and reconciliation with yourself that is so valuable.
I have always been fascinated by people that can walk into a room, talk to anyone, and seem to make friends easily. I am not one of those people. When I worked in an agency, I would hire people like this to work for me, and then when we had to socialize, I just had to follow along after them, and it significantly eased the strain for me.
I am writing this up north, in Ontario. I booked this weekend, to have some time away from distractions, and get a lot of writing done that’s been dragging on for over a year. I like my own company. I love being by myself. I requested a quiet room, and they gave it to me – at the very end of the building. This is a beautiful setting, but I could not do this on a weekend that was busy, or when there were more people around. I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much. I’ve read, eaten, slept, written, planned for the Creativ Festival in April, thought about what I need to do in the next few months. I kind of wish I didn’t have to go back tomorrow to the busy, hectic life that I usually lead. I also stretched to be here. I’ve never been here before, and I’m trying to do more new things and just go with the flow. I’m an introvert, and I spend most of my life with people and dogs, and really enjoy my time alone – no demands. Smiles.
I have learned how to indulge in small talk with people in elevators and with clerks and wait staff in restaurants. It’s not nearly as daunting as I used to think. Part of that comes with not caring so much what will happen, and giving up rehearsing everything to perfection in my head. (Yes, there are a lot of people who do that). I have learned that I cannot do everything, that I see things in patterns, and that I’m reasonably good at what I do. I have a strong sense of justice, and I like the playing field to be evened by accommodations for others. I make decisions fairly quickly, and am often right. I love being creative, and having something to show for what I do. I enjoy learning how to do new creative things. I take at least one class every year now, in that area. I have found that I absolutely love audiobooks, and although I like to hold onto the paper and cover of printed materials when I read (I have thousands of books, not all of which I’ve read), I have readily adapted to e-books, because of the ease of carrying them around with me. I still have piles of books that I expect to read, and have a hard time not continuing to buy more. I also re-read many of my favorites. I’m nearly finished the Narnia series again. I love technology, and am having a very difficult time not buying an iPad, while I’m waiting to see what’s coming out from Blackberry shortly, and what the other manufacturers are bringing out to compete. I still like to write with fountain pens, but that’s becoming less and less practical. I love Jia Lu’s art, and I have 6 of her paintings – 4 giclees, and 2 prints. I enjoy live theatre, and I go to National Technical Institute of the Deaf a few times each year to see deaf plays, where I can attend to the English or the ASL or both, and just float comfortably between my two worlds.
These are all things that I’ve learned later on in life (except for loving books), and I hope to keep learning. I wish this for you as well. Who you are is just fine. Finding who you are is the challenge, and then connecting with yourself. Fighting against who you are is stressful and frustrating. When you’re in the right space, it leads to contentment.