Have you ever made a remark within a group and basically been ignored and then moments later someone else says the same thing, only louder, and gets a round of cheers and a heap of credit? Isn’t that frustrating? When this happens to me I kick myself for not believing in my idea enough to say it with strength and conviction. Although I’m often quietly listening and observing as others tell tales and give directions, there are also times when I am unwaveringly vocal.
I am a voice
To a child silenced by injustice, I am a voice. To a child with whom the world had broken faith, I am someone to believe in. To a child lost in a nightmare, I am permission to dream. Where others are moved to pity, I am moved to action. For while my appointment may come from a court, my calling comes from within.
Years ago when I was a Guardian Ad Litem, I ran across a poem called, I Am a Voice, in the CASA newsletter. I cut it out and taped it above my desk. The above lines were taken from that poem. The poem earned real estate above my desk because it spelled out my purpose and I liked the idea of being someone vocal. Shhhh Everyone, the quiet girl has something to say. I was doing something meaningful. I spoke with conviction on behalf of neglected and abused children. True, my heart raced and my voice was a tad shaky each time I stood before a judge and presented my recommendation but I was the children’s (shaky) voice and the judges, lawyers, case workers and parents listened. The sensitive feeling introvert in me is always drawn to the underdog and the under-heard. I want to protect them. I want to listen to them. I want to lift them up and show them their value. I am willing to use my loud voice and extrovert for them. As mentioned in Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular, introverts love to go deep into subjects and work they find meaningful. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, calls these passions, core personal projects. Core personal projects give us the energy to stand up, fight, push forward, carry on, extrovert and speak up.
For you, anything
I’ve recently had the experience of literally speaking for someone. My mother has a form of ALS. Her facial and throat muscles are atrophying. While home for a visit, I made calls to friends and family to tell them what she couldn’t. I translated for doctors when they couldn’t understand her speech. I talked to pharmacists, physicians, hairstylists and telemarketers on the phone.
When her medication got mixed up I was on it, calling Walgreens, the doctor’s office and anyone who would listen. I asked as many questions as possible of the healthcare workers. When it comes to your health or that of someone you love, you have to be a fervent advocate. There’s no mush-mouthing your way through the healthcare system.
For many years my mom was the voice of encouragement for me. Our weekly phone conversations always made me feel supported and heard. Sadly, those phone conversations are becoming impossible because she is losing the ability to speak. Now it’s my turn to be the encouraging voice.
One night during my visit, after a brief nap and some restorative reading time, I found the clarity to really think about what to do to raise Mom’s spirits. I moved and sat on the floor next to her chair and listened with my heart wide open as she expressed her fears. I made her laugh by suggesting she do things she normally shouldn’t or wouldn’t do, like eat foods high in sodium (Ramen noodles, mmmmm) or smoke pot (Mom’s a straight arrow). I massaged her neck and shoulders with the calming essential oil I bought at the airport. I think it made her feel better. I know it made me feel better.
I found when it comes to someone I care about, I can push through the discomfort of emotionally charged and highly stimulating situations. I’ll speak up and take action even when I’m exhausted. It’s amazing what adrenaline and deep love will do for you. Even when the tank is empty, emotions sit on the nerve endings of your skin and you aren’t sleeping worth a damn, you press on. There really is no choice. Someone needs you. This is not to say I don’t lose it occasionally. I do. Some days the stimulation absorption level reaches complete saturation and my emotions and tears speak louder than my voice but then I find space to re-group and strength from relationships and carry on.
Question my values, hear me roar!
Please keep on writing with passion about us. We need your voice and perspective!!
— space2live reader Georgette
Last week I wrote about selling your introversion to the wrong audience and feeling invalidated. I admitted that members of my immediate family are embarrassed by my writing and its focus on introversion. I was nervous because I was going to present Myers Briggs material in my 14-year-old son’s Career Search class and he didn’t want me to. He specifically asked me not to talk about introversion or writing — two of my favorite interests.
One of my biggest values is that we all have the opportunity to be our true selves. As an introvert, that often means having meaningful relationships and incredible experiences but also needing time in stillness and solitude so that we can process our thoughts and feel whole again. It means having the freedom to go into our inner worlds without being judged as weird, anti-social or incompetent. We are not flawed. We are internally faceted. We have so much to offer in our own thoughtful, introspective, fascinating ways.
I’m a big advocate of slow living. Taking the time to experience what is happening to you. Not rushing, just soaking it all up.
I’ve learned to speak up about these values with significant others, friends and family. It’s not easy asking for space from those in our inner circles but if we don’t our minds will be toast and our tone will be sharp. It’s not easy going against the general belief that extroversion is normal and introverts should strive for extroverted traits, but I’m willing to shout for our nature’s acceptance and respect.
The Myers Briggs presentations to the teen classes went so well! I had fun putting together the Powerpoint the day before. It made me realize how much I love this kind of work. Admittedly, during the presentation I was nervous and my voice was shaky at first (my son told me) but then my passion for the subject matter and these kids’ futures took over and I enjoyed myself. My son came up to talk to me at the end of class and while he stood there another young man came up and timidly but solidly shook my hand and said, Thank you. He said he had gotten a lot out of what I said. That was all I needed. Mission accomplished. My son texted me later and said I did a good job. Added bonus. The teacher loved having me there and asked if I would like to present in her class each term. She also took my card and said she thinks other teachers in her department would be interested in my work. Double bonus! The presentations had elements of everything this sensitive introvert stands for: Championing the underdog, establishing boundaries, supporting personal values, doing meaningful work, spreading awareness, strengthening relationships and most importantly, accepting differences. For these, I’m willing to get loud.
What gives you the courage and energy to speak up? Where are you too quiet?
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