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Thank you for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
D.R.
your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
Sherrie
Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
Sharon
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.
For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
Niko
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary

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Ever Get Tired of Validating Your Introversion?

why-wont-you-validate-me-hrrrr

My 14-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter join me in my home office. Their respective buses have just dropped them off after school and now they are sitting in the worn comfy chair and lounging on the scrumptious shag carpet in the private room where I write. With trepidation and excitement I tell Bryce that I am going to be speaking in his Career Search class at school. His teacher has asked me to help the students interpret their Jung Typology Assessment results. Immediately he starts shaking his head and muttering, No, please don’t. At least don’t tell them you’re my mom. Thinking he is worried I will tell embarrassing stories about him I attempt to allay his fears by saying I won’t share any personal examples.

But that’s not it.

The truth is he doesn’t want me to talk about introversion or writing.

I can talk about Myers Briggs stuff but not about introversion or writing. Even my usually supportive and sensitive daughter chimes in with, Yeah Mom, don’t talk about introversion and writing.

I respond, I was going to show kids how their type preferences line up with certain career choices.

I work to maintain composure. The sting of their disapproval and embarrassment settles in my chest and in my eyes. A blue heavy feeling overrides any defense I can summon regarding the value of my temperament and vocation. Their lack of support and respect for something I am and the work I love, so obvious. I am spiritually crushed. It seems the last three years of explaining what introversion is, having them see how content I am when I write and how my writing has made others feel less alone, has not shaken their views of introversion as the inferior nature and writing as a non-substantial job.

React carefully.

Playing the victim doesn’t serve any purpose. 

Hush your screaming ego.

You can defend yourself until your face turns blue, but at some point you have to face the blank page, the blank canvas, the blankness of a life lived without passion. — T.K. Coleman, Arguing is Not a Substitute for Creating

 

Livin’ large no matter what the cost

yacht lifeI continue to listen as my son details how the other kids in the class will make fun of him if I talk about things that don’t make a lot of money. Apparently, the students filled out a survey the other day. The first question on the survey asked what they would like to do as a career. A good number of students answered, Make a lot of money. No explanation of how they intend to do that, but they want large lives with big money.

Knowing my son’s personality and need to be impressive, I assemble a modicum of understanding but my need to be authentic is in fighting stance.

My idealist, slightly naive personality can’t believe kids are this shallow and abject. An even more idealistic part of me thinks they just need the opportunity to be real and develop self-awareness. I am quite sure there are introverts in the class and possibly even writers. I want to validate them but I am stifled. I’m completely frustrated thinking about hiding my beliefs/values in order to present what my son deems acceptable but I know there is huge pressure to conform in school and I don’t want to affect his social life negatively.

So many people fail to ever get around to making art because they’re too busy trying to transform their friends into fans. — T.K. Coleman, Arguing is Not a Substitute for Creating

I don’t have the energy to transform you into a fan

 I’ve been trying to sell my family on my way of being and my writing for a long time. Their resistance makes me tired and lonely.

It’s exhausting carrying on with something your passionate about with little to no support or credit given. There aren’t a lot of pats on the back. You have to do it for you.

I don’t want to live a life without passion or authenticity. I can’t. I can stop trying to gain the approval of others, particularly my children. It’s not their job to validate me. They’re kids with kid maturity and their own spirits to protect and foster. It is my job to guide and champion them.

Approval has to come from within myself. I know this intellectually but as an intuitive feeling type it’s difficult not to absorb negative vibes and wish for the support of others.

You’re talking to the wrong crowd

Not everyone is going to understand or like you. That’s a jagged pill to swallow for a sensitive introvert. I want to be heard, understood and liked. I want harmony within my groups. I enjoy and even crave alone time but feeling alonemicrophone crowd within your family is disheartening.

But my family is not my main audience.  Convincing my sons that introverts are just as cool as extroverts is like selling veal to PETA. They are not buying it. Their teen culture subscribes to the million-quasi friends principle. The more the merrier is more normal.

Writing for myself and other sensitive introverts is therapeutic and validating. The emails I receive saying how my words resonate with their personal stories, keep me going. They give me courage to continue being honest and vulnerable. The tribe of friends I have gathered props me up.

They want me to talk about introversion and writing.

Thank God.

Reframing resistance as motivation

My love for my family is boundless and unconditional. Just because they see things differently (for now?), does not change that. Their resistance, if I’m in the right strong and confident mood, becomes my impetus for achievement. I am inspired to spread awareness about introversion precisely because of the cultural norm my kids represent. I will help people. I will finish my book and grow space2live into something that leaves my children in awe.

Do you ever feel like you’re alone in your pursuits? How much time have you wasted trying to convert the wrong audience?

If you enjoyed this post you may also love:

There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert.

Sensitive and Introverted Does Not Mean Irrational and Weak: Valuing the Input of the Compassionate and Contemplative

Introverted Not Incompetent:Validating Softer Life Skills

I Feel People and They Feel Me: The Blessing and Curse of Feeling Deeply

 

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25 Comments

  1. Catherine North September 23, 2014 at 6:33 am - Reply

    I loved this post, Brenda. I was very interested in your work with young people and careers, because finding a suitable job has been challenging for me as an introvert and HSP. So often, I’ve been told after job interviews that I had excellent skills, but another candidate seemed more outgoing or persuasive. My current job suits me quite well as it involves a lot of writing, but even there I sometimes feel second-rate compared to my extrovert colleagues, though I try to fight that feeling. I think it’s fantastic that you’re helping people like us to develop self-worth despite not fitting the cultural ideal. And I can understand it must be painful when those closest to you don’t seem very supportive of your ideals. I also remember the awful pressure at high school to fit in and pretend to be someone you’re not. When I was a teenager I would have loved to have met someone like you who’d help me realise I was okay as I was. I’m only starting to resolve these issues now at nearly 40! Thank you again for writing this.

    • Brenda Knowles September 24, 2014 at 5:51 pm - Reply

      I have found a few things to be my secret weapons as an introvert regarding career placement: 1. We don’t mind doing behind the scenes work and not everyone wants that. We can still be important and help with marketing, decision making, advising, etc. We just don’t have to lead the project. 2. We may be less boisterous but when we do speak it’s often impactful and meaningful. I have found that because I am a good listener, sensitive and intuitive I can hone in on what needs to be said in order to get something done or win someone over. 3. We build long-standing, meaningful relationships. We may not be the gregarious promotor but we know someone who can do that for us. We don’t have to wear every hat in a company but over the years we have built enough relationships (one at a time;) to have most bases covered.

      I did the presentation in my son’s class and I think it went over well. One kind, slightly shy acting young man came up to me afterward shook my hand and thanked me for coming. He said he got a lot out of what I said. That made it all worth it to me.:)

      Thank you for the supportive comment. 🙂

  2. Gary September 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda and thank you for all of your efforts. Your thinking pattern, feeling pattern, and resolution to this question resonated deeply in me, as I remember going through this with my former spouse and my children when they were much younger and less individualized. I caved in to the pressure and gave up my creative aspirations for the sake of a steady, comfortable paycheck and was constantly haunted by the feeling that I was not following my path. Something was always missing and all the material wealth, status, and egotistical masquerading could not hide or replace it.
    In the past decade, I left my “material girl” and my mask behind me, and my sons have grown and matured into extremely spiritual and supportive young men who appreciate that I am finally following my creative dream and life path. They now encourage me joyfully and I couldn’t be happier that I’m finally moving in the “right” direction.
    In retrospect, I should never have allowed my ego to decide the road I would travel in life, and instead, trusted my intuition and the Universe (as I do now). You are doing important work that fundamentally changes people’s lives. Your children can only hope that someday they will also be blessed that someone will strongly feel the same way about the good work that they do. Thank you.

    • Brenda Knowles September 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm - Reply

      Oh Gary you made my day! Thank you for such a kind and supportive comment. That’s wonderful that your sons have chosen spiritual and supportive paths, no doubt due to the temporarily hidden, but never fully forgotten creative aspirations and soul connection you harbored.
      I’m thrilled you are following your intuition and your bliss. Cheers to you! It takes courage to change your established routines and relationships. Ultimately, for us, the only thing we can do is be authentic. May you be deeply fulfilled.

      • Gary September 30, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

        Brenda, thank you for your kind, wise words.
        …and it takes both courage and dedication/commitment to uncover the underlying emotions that drive your behavior and to then expose them to the light of day for all to see as you do in this blog. That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Universe’s way of letting me know that I’m on “track.” Humbly, I thank the Universe for this “intervention” on your part and for connecting me to your insights.

        • Brenda Knowles October 1, 2014 at 8:37 am - Reply

          Yay! I love that your creativity is stoked. That is a sign from the Universe.:) Go Gary go! You are in the midst of revealing your true beautiful self.
          The fact that I played a small part in your evolution gives me enormous fulfillment. Thank you for letting me know. Carry on! 🙂

  3. Elisandra September 22, 2014 at 8:28 am - Reply

    It’s best for one to just live life the way that works for you and be a positive example. It’s not necessary to try to explain it to people, and kids often want to do the opposite of what the parents do anyway. It wasn’t long ago when it was the parents telling the kids to give up on art and music and writing and get a real job. It you were working 60 hours per week climbing the corporate ladder of the biggest corporation on earth, your kids would probably be complaining that you’re not home enough, telling you that money isn’t everything, and sitting around with flowers in their hair strumming their guitars and singing about the evils of the greedy establishment.

    • Brenda Knowles September 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      He he Elisandra.;) You’re probably right. Kids do the opposite of what their parents think is cool. My son is at the age where conforming is safer and more acceptable. Maturity will help but in the meantime I’ll just keep on doing my thing. He’ll either grow to respect me or rebel against me.;) I really have to validate myself, know my purpose and carry on. I’m sure my path will swerve all on its own. I have to learn to take things more lightly and trust my gut.

      Thanks for your perspective.:)

  4. David Wagenfeld September 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Brenda
    Thank you so much for this post. No matter how hard I try and explain to my siblings about being and introvert and an HSP. And no matter how much data and research I throw at them, they just roll their eyes and tell me I am just lazy and anti-social. Now I know that they are just not the right audience and to just stop trying to get them to get it. 🙂
    Dave

    • Brenda Knowles September 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Yes, don’t use up energy explaining to your siblings your ways. It’s much easier for them to point to easy/familiar terms like lazy and anti-social than to spend time gaining awareness about something new. Be your best introverted and HSP self and find the right crowd who will validate, inspire and encourage you.:)

  5. charlestolman September 20, 2014 at 7:23 am - Reply

    Well Brenda, just as well that you are the adult. We had the same sort of problems when we removed the TV from the house 25 years ago. But we just held the line and said that this was how we thought. I think that children will actually secretly like that a parent is acting with integrity – regardless of what is happening with their peers.

    Also it seems that we are swamping the messages about integrity in favour of money. Not surprising I guess given the Hollywood factor.

    I like the following quote from Margaret Young which I found in the Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron(p96) which my kids (though now post-University) seemed to relate to:

    “Often people attempt to live their life backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier.

    The way it actually works is the reverse.

    You must first BE who you really are, then, DO what you need to do, in order to HAVE what you want.”

    If you ask me this is one of the central messages we need to internalise to take our western culture forward. Yeah. Good luck with that. But we have to keep working at it.
    Thanks for another thought provoking post.

    • Brenda Knowles September 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Thank you Charles for the support and wise insight. I love the Artist Way quote. I believe that. I know I have to be me but it’s damn hard some days.;) I know I’m planting seeds with the kids. That growth stuff takes a long time – our whole lives.:)

  6. ilona fried September 19, 2014 at 9:06 pm - Reply

    Consider my comment a pat on the back! Heck, let’s make it a hug. Keep writing and sharing…the world needs your voice.

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks Ilona! Ditto for you. Writer friends get it.:) I’m cheering you on too.

  7. jujujubee2002 September 19, 2014 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    Oh I hear you Brenda! My boys are also 10 and 14 and although they can usually respect my time alone (and my older son is an introvert and understands) neither of them (or the hubster) have any interest in the arts, one of my true loves! I’m learning not to push for it either :/ I have to love and revel in it, in the company of others, not my dear fam. Sigh. The one powerful lesson for my boys is that we can be very different, choose different paths and love different things, yet still be soul-connected and (work at) being unconditional.

    We’re modeling to our kids how to be true to ourselves no matter what. They will look back on this time of learning how to love, witness & honor each other and they’ll be blessed (and thank us!?) for the example and inspiration <3

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm - Reply

      I think you are right about our children someday having a greater acceptance and understanding of different. Right now it feels like things are either right or wrong in their eyes and the things I value are ‘wrong’.:/ Planting seeds. That is what parents are supposed to do. Sometimes I just want to hurry the growth process.;) Mind and theirs.

      I know how you feel regarding a lack of mutual interest in the arts. I find art and artists so inspiring and enriching. My daughter is into it but my boys not so much, although my oldest is into playing the guitar.

      I guess we just have to do our thing and love our people deeply.:) It helps to have writing friends who understand. 🙂

  8. Georgette September 19, 2014 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Love all your posts! Your writing has truly blessed me and my 17 yr old daughter. She is an INFJ like me and it’s like swimming with sharks in the teen world of extroverts. Please keep on writing with passion about us. We need your voice and perspective!! Thank you for validating us. I pray those in your family will validate and appreciate you sooner than you can imagine. (((Hugs)))

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 5:45 pm - Reply

      Thanks for letting me know my words resonate with you and your daughter. Writing is the realm where I feel the most real and the most validated. The world needs the sensitive perspective. I truly believe compassion and empathy are key ingredients to a connected and content world. Stay strong in your passionate and divine way. INFJs are awesome.:)

  9. Irene September 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this article. I found many things very similar to my experience. It hurts a lot when I can’t share with anyone the things I’m passionate about. Even with people who are interested in a subject, but not to the deep degree I am, and therefore I find them shallow and I end up being disappointed by them. And maybe I find approval in my family (the elder members of my family, because I don’t have kids), but I don’t treasure it because I think it’s not objective. They’ve come to realise my fragility and I can’t say if their support is genuine, because I’m valuable in their eyes, or it’s the result of them being protective of me. Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed by my over-thinking, my over-analyzing and my feeling things so deeply. And I feel like I would be so much happier if I had a different nature, one that would keep me from crying while I write these words…

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 5:41 pm - Reply

      Your comment made me think of this Carl Jung quote – “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”

      That’s an interesting point about believing the validity of your family’s approval. Are they just doing it because they don’t want to upset you? Are they supporting you because they are your family and they have to? Good questions.

      Your last sentence brought tears to my eyes because I have felt that way too. Being sensitive is not an easy road to travel. There is an upside but there is a heavy downside as well. Emotions simmer so close to the surface and it’s not acceptable to show them too often. We struggle but we also live so deeply. The smallest bit of beauty can make our heart expand. We notice things that others miss. We have rich inner realms. Find a passionate outlet to channel your inner loveliness. The world needs your kind and sensitive heart.

      • Irene September 21, 2014 at 3:51 am - Reply

        Thank you for your answer and the encouraging message 🙂

  10. www.laurensapala.com September 19, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    This is SUCH a powerful post. I think so many of us introverts have struggled with years of looking for validation in all the wrong places, and this is a post to inspire us to connect back with our inner resources so we can find the people who really are our audience.

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lauren! One major thing I have learned is that you have to be as open and candidly you as possible in order to find others who ‘get’ you. Not everyone will, but that’s OK. Shed the people who make you feel bad about your way of being (although they teach us things in their own way). Gather those who help you expand.
      Thanks as always for your wise counsel and unwavering support.

  11. Angi September 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Just alone in general. I think my family finally accepts my introversion but, having teenagers like you do, they don’t completely understand it. Its more of a vehicle for giving me a hard time about it than anything. I appreciate what you do and encourage you to keep at it. There are many lonely introverts out there who enjoy your writing and encouragement in our introvert ways.

    • Brenda Knowles September 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Angi. It’s no fun when we explain ourselves to others and then they use it against us. The poopheads.;) Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll keep writing. It’s therapy for me and where I feel I have a purpose.

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