Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Archive for the ‘introvert’ Category

Building a Firm Foundation

Building a Foundation is No Easy Task

Foundations come in many sizes, shapes and colors. Though what comes to mind when we hear the word is often the cement slab beneath many homes and buildings. But the kind of foundation I’m talking about is built of people. It’s the network which is formed when we become part of a community, be it a church, a family, a group of synergistic businesses, or people following the same path.

In short, building a foundation is about connecting with those who will be our support group through good times and bad. We’re there for them, and they are there for us. It sounds pretty simple, and for most people, it probably is.

But there are far too many of us who slip through the cracks. We have trouble connecting in the first place, often due to a restrictive combination of massive introversion and a history of taking care of ourselves and not asking for help. From the outside looking in, we look like anyone else, moving through life’s pitfalls with all the help we might need to navigate.

Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth, and I write for those people because I am one of them. We do try to connect but our circuit never fully completes. We’ll go along just fine for a while, sharing a bit of ourselves and listening when others need to share. But when the lights go off at night we’re always alone. When the world feels like it’s crashing down around our ears, there’s no one to help dig us out.

For the Many Who Stand On Unstable Ground

When we do admit we’re on shaky ground, it typically either scares people away or pisses them off. How dare we be less than the strong, capable person we let people believe we are. What could possibly possess us to show weakness and expect anyone, even family to understand that sometimes we could really use a little propping up. The truth is, our foundation is built on quicksand which drags us dangerously close to the abyss where one day we’ll just fall in and never come back out.

And we’re not so sure we’d even be missed.

That’s not to say we’re not a part of one community or another. But we stay on the outskirts, never fully embraced by those at the center of the circle. It’s not their fault. Likes attract like, and we never learned the give and take of normal relationships. We’re too afraid of being rejected to truly allow people to see our soft, gooey center. We might give them samples to see how they react. But if we perceive even the slightest hint of disgust, we pull back into our tortoise shell so quickly as to leave them wondering if they even saw anything worthy of so visceral a reaction.

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone, But Only So Far

Surprisingly enough, many of us continue to venture out, trying to find that foundation, that community everyone around us seems to enjoy. Most if not all of us aren’t exactly joiners, but we’ll follow our passions wherever they take us, at least until things get too scary. Then back into our shells we go. In our lives, the shell is the firmest foundation we have. It’s lonely and it’s isolated, but from our skewed perception, it’s safe.

“Safe” is of course a relative term. Safe from having your heart broken? Check. Safe from an earthquake or tidal wave? Not so much. Safe from starvation or homelessness? Probably not that either. Safe from dying of sheer loneliness? Definitely not.

Though we may be better off alone under certain circumstances, in the long run, we’re not. We simply have to find our tribe; the people who accept us warts and all, and who are ready and willing to support us when, as I tend to say we’re “not in a good place right now”. More than that, we need people who understand we don’t want to burden anyone with a litany of all the things that are scaring us at the moment.

Foundations of a Different Kind

We might not even be able to handle a full-on foundation. A few struts to support us until we get our legs back under us may have to suffice. Maybe that’s another version of a foundation anyway.

Most people see a foundation as a firm, solid base, but what if, for those of us who are foundation-challenged, we simply need a looser interpretation. Our ideal foundation is built of people who understand that sometimes we need to stand alone or even isolate ourselves, while others, we want and need to be safe within the womb of our tribe. Our need for a more fluid, flexible foundation is harder to meet.

We need people as sensitive as we are to those undercurrents that aren’t visible to the naked eye; people who sense rather than see when they’re needed. Interestingly enough, most people have no problem sensing how we can be a sensitive ear or a supportive shoulder, which just proves there are people who are able to be part of our foundation.

Testing the Waters: An Introvert’s Safety Net

Many times I write a post that comes from the depths of my soul because I know someone out there might be feeling the same and needs to know they’re not alone. Once in a great while, I’ll get a message from someone who recognizes the unspoken story behind the words, and knows I, too am asking for help in the only way I know how. I know it’s completely backwards and short-sighted to expect people to see both sides of the message. And frankly, it’s somewhat intentional.

In a way, I’m testing the waters to see if anyone recognizes there’s more to my words than meets the eye. It’s my own distorted way of checking out the people I think understand me to see if I can offer them a more candid shot. Most of the time, it goes no further.

Setting Ourselves Up for Failure

I know I’m not alone here either. Too many hold back large chunks of their true selves because they are constantly disappointed by the responses they get when they put themselves out there. The trouble is, they, like me, tend to do so in such a way that they ensure their disappointment. We send out mixed messages, or are too cautious about letting people see our hurt, or fear, or lack of confidence. We’re too subtle for our own good.

Worse still, we see ourselves as too broken to be of any use to anyone when we’re being our true selves. We lend an ear, and at least in my case, are privy to the brokenness in other people they don’t easily share with others. They sense the kindred spirit, but we never give them the opportunity to return the favor or get to know us better. Because of the inherent need in most humans to both need and be needed, these relationships die on the vine because we don’t nurture both sides of the equation.

But I, like others who see the world through these distorted lenses would probably be surprised to learn that those we helped would be there for us if we only cracked a window or left the door unlocked.

All is Not Lost

Foundations can be formed, even by the most broken among us. But in order to do that, we have to be willing to live with our fears for a little longer, and take a risk of being dropped on our keester one more time. Most of all, we have to take a huge chance and let someone know that no, we are not OK right now and could use a little shoring up. The initial steps are going to be the stuff of every nightmare we ever dredged up from our subconscious minds. Yet we never seem to imagine the glory and joy of potential rewards, do we?

Letting Gratitude Strengthen Our Foundation

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I have an outlet for my fears and tough times, even if no one actually recognizes the hidden meaning behind the words. I’m better for having gotten them out there and maybe, just maybe, helped one person over a rough patch.
  2. I’m grateful for my writing. Sometimes, it truly is the only thing between me and throwing in the proverbial towel.
  3. I’m grateful for the bits and pieces of foundation I’ve been able to gather. They may not prop me up every time, but there have been a few pleasant surprises along the way.
  4. I’m grateful for the memory of my parents’ suicides if only because they serve as a reminder of what their untimely deaths have done to me, not only in the months and years immediately afterwards, but of the deeper wounds I continue to slog through.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: WORDS. I have an abundance of words for just about any situation!

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your uniquely genuine self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Navigating a World Designed by Extroverts

Have You Guessed?

My name is Sheri and I am an Introvert. That means I have two choices: I can either become a recluse and find a way to live my life far away from people, or I can adapt. For most of my life, I chose the latter and learned how to fool people into believing I was at least somewhat like them. Eventually, I learned I could have the best of both worlds.

To make matters worse, I’m also an Empath. What that means in simple terms is that if you’re feeling sad or angry or scared, I’m going to feel it too, right down to the marrow of my bones.

Learning to Play a Part

Part of my adaptation to the world of Extroverts has been learning to detach myself from people while being in close proximity. When I first realized the need to create some kind of barrier between myself and humanity, I chose something simple. I imagined myself surrounded by outward facing mirrors which reflected emotions and even thoughts directed at me or near me back to the sender. It was a solution, albeit primitive and filled with drawbacks. Imagine living your life inside a disco ball!

After a couple of decades of unknowingly drowning in loneliness and a withdrawal from the comforts of human contact, I learned I was shutting out the good with the bad and sought another solution.

In the meantime, I’d learned to project an image of confidence and friendliness. People were fooled…to a point. They bought into the confident, extroverted person I projected, but knew instinctively that it lacked the warmth which would have made me human and approachable. What I got for my trouble was a lot of superficial relationships.

Turning Point

Personal traumas and life in general made me aware of a need for true human contact, messy emotions and all. But I knew I needed to be selective about the people whose dark, twisty sides I allowed into my head. So I studied and read and talked to my kids. Eventually I learned I could use the elements to which I related best (in my case, fire and water) to create a barrier which allowed me to selectively block people instead of the overall detachment I’d established in my 20’s.

But the factor which helped me cope in a world of strong, outgoing personalities best was choosing to follow my passion for writing which is, at best, a solitary occupation. Now, I get to choose when to interact with people and when to spend a day or days alone with my cats. I get lots of time to recharge before diving back into the world, strong, confident and able to perpetuate the myth that I am an Extrovert too.  Like Anna in The King and I, I face my fears by acting like they don’t exist until eventually, they just don’t!

Moving Forward

Today I follow a somewhat regular schedule of seclusion and socialization which seems to work for me. When the balance shifts, I might need to hide out for a few days after an excessive amount of human contact, but for the most part, I’m able to recharge my batteries more and more easily with practice.

Are you an Introvert in an Extrovert’s world? What are some of the things you do to navigate life without becoming overwhelmed. Leave me a comment. I’ll bet you have some ideas I haven’t even considered!

The Biggest Factor of All: Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I am grateful for attracting more people like myself.
  3. I am grateful for what I fooled myself into believing and being.
  4. I am grateful for the lifestyle which allows me to be who I am, and to love that person unconditionally.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, solitude, recharging, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, confidence, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Mark Sebastian via Flickr

April 25, 2015 I Am Introvert: Hear Me Roar

The Changing Face of A Writer’s Lifestyle

I noticed something yesterday. I was running errands after my annual eye exam and found myself butting into a conversation between the store clerk and a customer. The conversation continued as we stood at the register, actually resulting in a possible solution to a problem I’d been having and, if nothing else, a new acquaintance.

To the average person, this would probably not seem odd, but as an introvert, we just don’t do things like this. Or I didn’t until I began spending the bulk of my days in the company of my cats. Now that my human contact is limited to dance nights and errand days, I find it a lot easier to talk to random people. It’s as if my craving for a little human contact tells the introvert inside me to “Shut the heck up! I need to talk to a human for a change!” And surprisingly enough, that little introvert inside me ambles meekly away without so much as a “yeah, but…”

An Introverted Leopard Can Change Her Spots

My recent experiences seem to indicate that introverts can alter their natural tendencies given the right set of circumstances. There are many misconceptions about us anyway. We are not necessarily shy, nor do the defense mechanisms we develop over the years make us extroverts. We simply learn how to be outgoing and friendly to mask that quivering ball of “leave me alone” which excessive attention might reveal should we fail to go on the offensive from the start. Shyness would imply that we have trouble communicating, when the truth might be quite the opposite. In fact, like I have lately, we might communicate a little too well given the proper circumstances.

But don’t be fooled. When push comes to shove, I still prefer the company of my cats or a few friends to a crowd. Many times, I stay home simply because I don’t want to be stuck in a crowd of people with their teeming emotions. A barrage of emotions can, at times, be far worse than any migraine I’ve ever suffered, and believe me, I’ve had some doozies!

For now, though, I’ll simply accept an unexpected facet of my introvertedness which results in chatting up strangers in stores just for a little social interaction.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my friends who understand me in spite of my obvious quirks.
2. I am grateful for three nights of dancing as it will make the next few days of enforced writing easier to accomplish (not to mention all of the great people watching I did in the process.)
3. I am grateful for my cats who rarely leave me alone for more than a few minutes, and who provide me with their soft purrs for background noise which soothes but doesn’t distract.
4. I am grateful for finally getting ideas for blog posts again, and for making progress on the Yahoo Style Guide which is supposed to help my blog writing, especially when I write for others.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, dancing, kitty love, communication, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Blessed Be

April 12, 2015 A Day in the Life of a Writer

Human Behavior is a Never-ending Variety Show

As a writer, I spend a lot of time observing human behavior. After all, you never know when I might need inspiration to make a character in one of my stories more believable. And as many before me have observed, you just can’t make this shit up! Ordinarily, my observations are directed outward, but over the last couple of days, that has changed, not by design, but because of an anomaly.

Though I’m sure this isn’t really a new phenomenon, it was, perhaps elevated in importance after several days of crazy busyness and a higher than normal activity level. However, for the last couple of days, I’ve found myself extremely slow to get started, sleeping later than normal, moving slowly, taking hours to eat the single cup of yogurt and cup of coffee I have for breakfast every morning, and accomplishing little of note for an entire day. Today in particular, I sat down to do my daily meditation, ended up in a dream sequence with an extremely involved story line, and finally woke up nearly three hours later!

From Zero to Sixty in Three Seconds

This behavioral anomaly would probably have escaped my notice had this lengthy period of laziness been the end of it. Instead, around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, I suddenly experience pangs of guilt over having a completely unproductive day and seem to acquire an infusion of energy which has me zipping around the house doing chores or finishing a project I’d left half done. In short, making up for lost time in the space of a couple of hours. But it doesn’t stop there.

While my body is busy making up for the hours of sloth, my brain goes into overdrive. Ideas for some of my works in progress start weaving themselves out until I have an entire scene fleshed out in my brain. It even remains long enough for me to commit it to memory by writing it on an index card or adding it to a document on my computer. Even the dreams I have during the slow periods are vivid and memorable, demanding they be added to my perpetual journal called, coincidentally, Weird Dreams.

Could I be Channeling my Inner Vampire?

Though the lengthening days mean that this bizarre behavior begins while the sun still shines, it is important to note that I’m rarely in bed before 2 or 3 in the morning these days. So either I’m practicing to be a vampire or have secretly become my cats (though to be honest, they don’t have a problem sleeping at night or any other time within any twenty-four hour period). As I type this, two of my darling furbablls have suddenly started demanding attention after snoozing on my bed most of the day.

As a writer, I do tend to write what I know, but somehow, the idea of becoming my own muse is a trifle horrifying. Granted, it would give me the ability to create the body, face and personality I’ve only dreamed about, but no. Too weird! Much better to focus on the behavior of others.

And yet…I do see other writers using themselves as a template. Maybe not their current selves, but the selves they were before they took control of their own destiny. Perhaps that’s where I need to focus. Like many others, I wasn’t exactly the most well-adjusted kid, and as a teenager, being part of the wallpaper was often my best option. Being an introvert will do that to you! Over the years, I learned to hide the soft, squishy part of myself and even, to some extent, become hardened to those annoying things we call emotions.

Just as History Repeats Itself, So, Too, Do We Humans as We Experience Our Own, Personal Evolution

Not unlike other Humans, my life has had its ups and downs, twists and turns and even backtracks. In the process, I’ve been called upon to re-evaluate and re-work what I’d become. This was especially true when I took the Ascension Resonance Therapy course a couple of years ago (has it really been that long?). During the class, I was forced to look at the things which were causing me pain, frustration and aggravation and delve into the true causes. As a result, I made a move which many would consider foolish when I quit my job to write full time.

Over a year later, I wouldn’t say that I’ve written full time at any point. I’ve actually put more time into it over the last month than at any time before, but I’m learning it isn’t all about writing. Part of the time, I market, part of the time, I study or read, part of the time I network, and then, there are the actual writing sessions. In between all of that, I live my life, do my chores, interact with people (in small doses, of course!), and allow my stories to just grow inside my head for awhile until they take on a life of their own. Because the truth of the matter is, being a writer isn’t just about writing any more, if it ever really was.

I’ve seen many opinions on writing lately, and frankly, that’s all they are in many cases. There are those who claim that you should never write for the money, but then, where would columnists and technical writers and those who write infomercials be? Where would the people who write for social media and commercial blog sites be if they weren’t making money writing? Sure, a purist writes for the joy of writing, and I’m sure that in between assignments most of those people do their share of writing for the pure joy of it as well. But not all of us are happy in a 9 to 5 job and have to find ways to ensure that we continue eating, paying the bills and taking care of our pets (I add the last because in the lonely life of a writer, I believe pets are essential to our sanity).

I think I’d qualify the idea and say that I don’t do the writing which feeds my soul, create the stories which run around in my head for the money. I don’t write my blog, sharing my feelings, thoughts, observations and experiences for money. But I will do blog posts, social media and articles for others and expect to be paid for my efforts. Just like those who have a day job which doesn’t allow them to write, it is my way of giving myself the ability to write the things I do for love rather than money. After all, only the few very lucky ones are able to combine the two, and who knows how long it took or what they sacrificed to get there, or even what they sacrifice now to continue being able to write what they love. What writer wouldn’t want to walk a mile in Stephen King’s or Nora Roberts’ shoes? I, for one, would love to know how my favorite writers survived while spending endless hours writing and perfecting the stories we now get to enjoy.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do what I love.
2. I am grateful for a mind which views and dissects everyone and everything it sees.
3. I am grateful for a mind which kicks my butt when I’ve accomplished nothing all day.
4. I am grateful that I am solely responsible for the upkeep of my home, myself and my cats. There are days when this responsibility is all that gets me off of my butt and moving.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, motivation, writing, health, harmony, prosperity, philanthropy and joy.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com/. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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