Categories
self discovery

Nothing Will Go Away Until It Teaches Us What We Need To Know

Running away from my problems used to be my favorite coping mechanism.

I can still fall prey to this old bad habit; I’ll hope people who bother me will disappear, or I will leave situations when I’m uncomfortable.  However, every time I do this the same people pop back up, and the same situations manifest in a different way… over and over again.

It’s a fact.

I could write about endless examples, but there’s one I have in mind which was so bitterly uncomfortable that I’m still surprised I got through it.  When I had a difficult roommate, I obviously thought the solution was to move.  To run away.  Despite receiving the silent treatment for weeks, I didn’t leave- and get this:

I was kind.

I still said “excuse me” when we would pass each other in the hallway, and I still tried to be considerate despite her obvious distaste for me.  Although I really had no idea what I had done wrong, I didn’t cower or run away- but I did later learn she had been secretly drinking.

It wasn’t even me that was the problem.

Old Kristin would have run away to avoid the feelings of rejection, discomfort, and anger- but New Kristin dealt with the situation, stuck to her guns, and now has a much better living situation because she stuck with it.

Completing things you started can be difficult- especially for someone like me who hates to be uncomfortable.  If you were to ask me in an interview today if I am a “team player,” I would probably stop lying and tell them I work best independently.  The truth is, I’m not a team player- I’m one of those kids who got frustrated in school and did the entire project themselves.  As a control freak and type-A person, I kept trying to do everything myself, over and over again, and do it MY way.

But those bad roommates will keep coming along, and so will team assignments.  It’s up to you to choose how to handle them today.

Maybe I do work best independently, and I look forward to the day I don’t have roommates anymore.  Nevertheless, as long as I remain teachable and willing to put down my ego and learn to live life differently than I used to, I’ll be just fine.

Categories
mindfulness self care self discovery

Nine Lives

Like a cat, I have seemed to live nine lives.

Time and time again, I have found myself running- running from what others thought of me, running from what I thought of myself, and running from who I was afraid I may may become.

It took a decade of running to discover I was exactly who I needed to be all along.

From moving to San Francisco in 2008 to living in Boston ten years later, I realized I brought myself with me everywhere I went. No “geographic cure” could be the remedy, nor could “recreating” myself change who I was on the inside.

I may have fallen nine times, but I’ve always managed to land on my feet- and today, I’m grateful to sit still.

Categories
mindfulness

The Power of Pause

Our society glorifies “busy,” though often times people aren’t accomplishing anything at all. We come and we go, forgetting to take moments for ourselves to sit in quiet contemplation.

This morning I heard a great message- to embrace the power of pause.

It’s these quiet moments when we gain insight, charge our batteries, and embrace the power within. Instead of quickly coming to a resolution or a response, take a few minutes to stop and think.

With a new week ahead, it’s important to remember to breathe, reflect, and take a pause before reacting. Whether it’s a disagreement at work or a task you need to accomplish, remember how powerful pause can be.

Categories
mindfulness self discovery

True Freedom: Letting Go of Resentments

As I strolled through the Back Bay and down to the Esplanade yesterday, I felt a new sense of freedom. It was a beautiful fall day, and I had the chance to head to my favorite spot in Boston- the Charles River.

The freedom I felt was greater than just being able to take time out to enjoy nature, though- it was a sense of freedom within.

I went to a meeting where I saw some people from my past who I avoided due to resentments- and not only did I face those people for the first time in over a year, I raised my hand and spoke about it.

“Resentments kept me sick and my secrets held me hostage.”

For a long time, I only let half of my true self be known.

People in the group nodded and smiled. Over the years, I found every reason in the book to avoid groups, places, jobs, family, or friends- all due to uncomfortable feelings, resentments, or disagreements. Running was my favorite pastime- but not in the jogging sense of the word. I ran from discomfort.

“I’m no longer willing to water down my story or hide from the world,” I continued. In the past I was extremely fearful of judgment or rejection- but the only person that hurt was me. The more honest I am, the more I learn how accepting others are- but I also learn which people don’t matter.

I’ve been working on being my authentic self, loving my truth, and owning my story no matter what others have to say about it, and that is the greatest freedom of all:

Freedom within.

Categories
mindfulness self discovery

Faux Extrovert

The other day I picked up the book “Quiet” at the library. It was a timely find, as I’ve been reflecting on my own self care needs, causes of anxiety, and everyday interactions with those around me.

As I read the first few pages of Susan Cain’s book, one paragraph struck me:

“Now that you’re an adult, you might still feel a pang if guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you’re told that you’re “in your head too much,” a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet and cerebral.

Of course, there’s another word for such people: thinkers.”

Oh, how I relate.

Lately I’ve been exhausted; not due to a lack of rest, but with the amount of social interaction I have had. This has been a month of healing, but it has also been a month full of groups, social activities, and sharing my story, thoughts, and innermost challenges. In a community setting it can be difficult to find the space and time to sit and reflect; there’s always someone talking, somewhere to go, or someone critiquing what I say. Sure, I have no problem speaking up, but I am easily drained when I don’t have time to just be.

Over the past decade I’ve been extremely outgoing, which served its purpose when moving to new cities, recreating myself, making friends, and succeeding in the workplace. Alcohol helped with that, too. However, alcohol no longer serves, either.

It’s time to embrace who I truly am- on my own.

As I’ve written numerous times before, I grew up as a shy only child, spending my days drawing, reading, and writing. “Boredom” is not in my vocabulary- I’ve always known how to entertain myself through creating. However, somewhere along my path I became a social butterfly, only to find myself lashing out when my batteries weren’t charged. I never considered that my mood swings were partially due to a lack of energy.

Someone explained the definition of “introvert” to me years ago: someone who gains energy from alone time. An introvert is a very misunderstand type of person; they’re not necessarily timid or weak- an introvert holds a modest strength that doesn’t need to be proven through loud words, social interactions, or attention-seeking.

As I dig deeper into the person I once was, who I’m becoming, and the person I want to be, I have realized the power in quiet. Truth be told, extroverts tend to annoy me. How can these people be so loud? How can they be so needy? Can’t they just learn to sit still and create something instead of constantly consuming?

Of course, it’s not my place to judge people who gain energy from activities and social interactions; diverse personalities make the world go ’round. However, I have always gotten along best with fellow introverts- those who are introspective, creative, independent, and calm. I prefer one-on-one interactions to groups, deep conversations to small talk.

I’ve also learned that I don’t have to pick up a drink and be the life of the party; I can find my tribe by being myself. I can develop meaningful relationships, a purposeful career, and live a happy life by embracing my introvert characteristics.

Susan Cain describes people who pretend to be extroverts just like I have; it’s a breath of fresh air to leave that facade aside and own my introversion. I may not be loud and aggressive today, but when I do speak up, I do have something meaningful to say.

I’ve found solace and strength in my writing, and for that, I am grateful. I’m no longer afraid to speak my truth- my whole truth- and admit my struggles. More on that later. As for now, I’m enjoying my Saturday afternoon curled up with my book, writing in my journal, and soaking in the sunshine from my window.

Quiet is a beautiful thing.