Sometimes You Have to be Weird to be Great: Success and Connection Through Introversion and Sensitivity

NBA superstar, Kobe Bryant, practices without a basketball. According to his former teammate, kobe-bryantShaquille O’Neal, Kobe spends time cutting, motioning and grunting like he is dribbling and shooting but without a ball. Shaq finds this weird but admits it seems to help Kobe’s game.

Bet you didn’t think you’d get a sport’s story here.;)

Feeling weird in your own home

Two years into space2live’s existence, my oldest son declared (in our kitchen in front of his brother and sister), Introverts are weird. Making it unsafe or at least uncomfortable for any of us to admit to our introverted traits. Despite my in-depth writing and explanations regarding what it means to be an introvert, my son still saw introverts as shy, anti-social irregulars who aren’t as successful as extroverts. So sometimes, I feel weird in my own home.

For a long time I hid (somewhat unsuccessfully) my desperate need for alone time because I felt like a non-mainstream, selfish mother for desiring time away from the family. I felt out of sync with other parents/women because I couldn’t juggle multiple sports’ schedules, homework assistance, dinner preparation, household maintenance and husband attention.

I multi-task poorly. I pay attention and move through life linearly, one note at a time. I savor sounds, smells, words, tastes, touch and beauty and fail to thrive in constant busy-ness and lose energy when forced to spend money. Which in the universe I inhabit, is weird.

Sensitive = weird?

I am extraordinarily sensitive. My eyes well up at country songs with sad stories.  Hell, I cry during The Voice sometimes because I am so moved by the singing.

I talk about gratitude and harmony and the heart behind every face. My sons think I’m… weird (and a hippie-7hippie). The other day my middle son’s teacher spoke of gratitude and kinship in the classroom. The teacher, Mr. L, told the kids that grateful people are healthier. My son, relaying the story at our dinner table, said, He sounded like you Mom. I was so thrilled to be associated with such lovely concepts I almost cried;).

I also get a huge high from music, art, writing, intimacy, the stars, compassionate gestures and travel. I have a hard time focusing on small details and conversations without meaning. I have determined that relationships and experiences are all I need to maintain a level of contentedness that most would call happiness.

Strange choices

I don’t have the energy or desire to constantly strive for more. I’m feeling oriented rather than event or task oriented. I am very selective in my loves and passions because I go deep into what I pursue. Sometimes my selectivity offends others. Sometimes my choices are strange. I choose to make my children a top priority but not my whole life. I don’t insist my kids have full schedules. I don’t go over every inch of my children’s homework. I sit at home and write rather than shop or socialize. I keep my home good enough rather than impressive. I chose divorce over security.

Weirdness leads to greatness?

Kobe Bryant is a great basketball player because of his discipline and work ethic. That he dares to be unorthodox in his practice methods just makes him that much more connected to his passion. He goes deeper.

I am not saying I’m great because of my choices. I am still trying to convince my kids that introverts are differntbeautiful, not weird.

I am saying that I am more content because of my willingness to be different. I am more me. I am weirdly satisfied and open to connect with others. Because of this willingness to feel odd and uncomfortable I have attracted and validated other weirdos like me. Frankly, that’s an experience way better than great.

What do you do that other’s might view as strange? Is there something that you love but are afraid to embrace because it’s not mainstream?

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12 Comments

  1. Doug Toft
    November 29, 2013

    One of the many things I admire about you is the willingness to look foolish—and wise—around your children.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 30, 2013

      Thank you Doug:) I think I’m still in the foolish phase with my kids. Someday I may appear wise to them.

      Reply
  2. November
    November 29, 2013

    I’m weird, but I’ve accepted that. I’m ok with who I am. I own my weirdness because I have other qualities that prove: weird is not bad, weird is not incapable, weird is lovable. The people who hold me back are those who don’t believe those things….and at the heart of THAT issue, no one wants those kind of people around anyways. Weird is wonderful.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 30, 2013

      Cheers to weird is wonderful and lovable! You’re right the ones who critically judge based on the “norm”, are not the ones you want around anyway. I saw a phrase the other day that said, Be curious, not judgmental. I’m trying to teach my kids that.

      Reply
  3. chehaw
    November 29, 2013

    It’s like saying, for me to be my best and authentic self, there’s going to be some weirdness baked in. The offbeat music, the different clothes, the different way of seeing things–those are what make us, us. Being anything less than who we are sounds like conformity to me. Who wants to be boring?

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 30, 2013

      Authentic and genuine, vulnerable sometimes, but never boring.:) Seeing things differently and sharing ideas beyond the norm are what make life rich and surprising. Keeps us awake.:)

      Reply
  4. Angi
    November 29, 2013

    I don’t think I really do anything in particular that people think is weird. I just don’t think people really get me. But the older I get thr less I care. This is me…take it or leave it. I sometimes think it would be so nice to live off grid just because I get so exhausted and ocerwhelmed with what passes as a normal life anymore.vevdn though I manage to keep activities in my life pretty minimal, I still get overwhelmed with the busyness of the world around me. My dream is to move across the country and live between the beach and the mountains so thst I can embrace the tranquil qualities of each depending on my mood. I just can’t imagine having to grow old in a place and being around people that promote sharing life together and disguise being all up in your business as community. I like sharing small amounts of time with people but not enough time for them to really get to know me. And that all goes back to people not getting me. Not sure if all that made sense, but thank you for sharing your heart and providing a safe venue for me to share mine.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 30, 2013

      May you find yourself between mountains and sea someday Angi – at peace in an existence that suits you.:)

      I get overwhelmed too. Many nights I lie awake thinking of all the things I have to manage/get through/take care of. Makes my heart race sometimes.

      It’s interesting that you don’t want others to get to know you deeply. On the Myers-Briggs assessment I sometimes test closer to the extrovert end of the spectrum because I believe I am easy to get to know. I put my personal story out on space2live every week.;) I suppose I have a targeted audience who mostly “get” me, so it is enjoyable.

      May space2live always be a safe space to share. That is my intention. I need it too.:)

      Reply
      • Angi
        November 30, 2013

        It’s not so much that I don’t want people to know me deeply it’s just that it takes a lot of energy to share yourself that fully. If I am going to let someone that deep into my heart and life, I want them to be there for a long time. When people are no longer part of my life, it hurts too much because of how deeply emotional I am as an introvert. And that takes energy to deal with that I just don’t have to spare. Hence the reason for being selective about who I allow into the deep, emotional, and sometimes complicated world that is me.

        Reply
        • Brenda Knowles
          November 30, 2013

          I agree it does take a lot of energy to share fully. I also invest in the other person by getting to know them and giving them deep attention. It is very difficult when they are no longer a part of your life. I understand your point better now. Thanks for clarifying.

          Reply
  5. elizabeth2560
    November 29, 2013

    I think what you are reflecting on is probably the whole INFJ profile and not simply being introverts. We are after all less-than-1% of the population. No wonder people think we are weird. However, we are there with Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa. So we are in good company.

    Reply
    • Brenda Knowles
      November 30, 2013

      Could be an INFJ thing Elizabeth.:) I also know the highly sensitive piece of my personality makes me different. I believe A high degree of empathy is what puts us in such inspiring company.

      Reply
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