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.
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
I 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 alone 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.
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?
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