Do it now.
Don’t do that.
These are phrases many of us heard growing up, especially those born during the 50s, 60s and 70s, before parenting became a whole new concept and we began giving everybody trophies simply for showing up. In our house, it was the rule of the fist in a velvet glove. This is where I first learned to color inside the lines, or else I’m doing it wrong. My paint-by-number results more resembled a work by Picasso than any serene landscape. I didn’t see the point in doing it just like everybody else. No matter how many bruises and painful spankings I received for “doing it wrong,” I still did it my way. My parents were afraid of their child being different. They were afraid that they wouldn’t fit in if they had a child who refused to follow the status quo.
And yet, here I am today, still doing things my own way. It’s abhorrent for me to buy into “the way things are supposed to be.” Who says it’s “supposed” to be this way?
Anybody who says so is lying. They are expressing their own fear of change. Perhaps they learned, just like I did, that the nail that sticks up is the one that gets hammered down.
Be a good boy.
I wish I never had you.
Why are we, as a society, so interested in making sure that everything – and everyone – is the same? Why, when someone succeeds at something, does that trigger hatred and attacks on their character, their method, or their upbringing? And how might one stay out of that particular fray?
I think it’s this: I think that there were hundreds of thousands of people who saw things differently as children, who were able to think through the platitudes they heard every day from adults, teachers, family, and on down the line. And they never allowed anyone to tell them how to do something, because they trust their own instincts and intuition. People like you and me.
You’re going to grow up to be a very lonely boy if you don’t straighten up and do right.
This is a statement I heard numerous times. It was meant as a threat, but as it turned out, I liked being alone. Alone, I could hear myself think. I could sort through the avalanche of emotions that seemed to tumble about inside me from the moment I gained self-awareness. I didn’t know the word “introvert” then, but I do now. And not only have those tendencies grown more pronounced, they define a large part of who I am.
And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with never having thought like others. Many people do not know how to take me. I’m okay with that, too. You don’t have to understand. My ability to thrive depends on no one. My self-worth depends only on my own opinion, insight, and self-awareness. People call me stand offish. I encourage it. As introverts, we very often have difficulty separating our own emotions from others’. The only way we can do so is to be quiet enough to think. That doesn’t take place in a mall, or in traffic, or at a concert. It takes place in our heads, and our heads prefer to be at home to process things.
I battle with my current landlords because they’re incredibly invasive. And I know from experience that I’m an excellent tenant. When left to my own devices, I keep a property functioning well. I like to garden, I like to read, I like to take naps. I love doing repair projects, even when it’s not my own place. Our home is our saving grace, because that’s the only place we feel safe. But it’s difficult when the property owners insist on knowing every little thing I do, every moment of the day. It stresses me out, it stresses the dogs out. We’ve had power struggles since I moved in, which culminated in me no longer trusting they after they posted an eviction notice because I would not let them inside the house for a fourth time in a week. Nobody needs to know that much about another person unless they’re married to one another. And see? I live alone.
We have since worked it out, but I have decided to move, and they have agreed to allow me to break lease because of our differences. They will likely never understand my need for solitude and me never understand their need to be invasive.
You cannot change introverts. Nor should you want to. We are not ignoring you or shutting you out with malicious intent. We do not function well when we’re being forcefully homogenized. We struggle, and often we fight back to protect our sacred space. Without that space, we wither and our spirit dies.
Stand up for your right to be non-homogenized. Defend your sacred space. Don’t allow others to intrude, or invade. Don’t let others tell you what to think, how to feel, or how to act. You may not trust your intuition, but you will one day…when you’ve had enough. It’s oxygen to our souls.