If there would be one word to describe me, it would be introvert. I’m one of those people who rather reads a book on a Saturday night (a novel, an encyclopedia – I even indulge in study books as if it were fresh baked cookies), than goes to a party. Skipping parties is without doubt my biggest JOMO (Joy of Missing Out – the exact opposite of FOMO / Fear Of Missing Out). As I am writing this, I hear the faint sounds of music and laughing people from the clubs in town. It fills me with such joy being just here in my apartment, so gloriously a-social and free to do whatever I want.
Yeah, so you are just shy.
Well no, that’s not it. Introversion – and extroversion, its opposite – are personality traits. Extrovert people get energized by external impulses (situations, other people) and have a need and desire for social stimulation and action around them. Introvert people on the other hand, get energized from internal impulses (thoughts, feelings, ideas) and get more than enough stimulation from their own thoughts. Spending a night home alone feels like the ultimate freedom to the introvert, while the extrovert asks himself how the hell he’s going to plough through the hours.
Introvert people don’t need a lot of external stimulation. In fact, they roll really well with the least amount. I for example, can get insanely enthusiastic about just a mere idea, and I am happiest when I can focus on one project to completely immerse myself into.
Professions like writing, creating art or doing science fit introverts very well. And guess what: those three are exactly the things I want to be! All three, because I cannot choose one over another. So with this in mind, I created my blog.
The Introvert on a Party
It all sounded like a great idea. Making a website that acts as a portfolio, CV and blog where I can put all the thoughts and ideas I want to share with the world. I can write, draw, display my photographs ánd play the scientist all in one. Together they pose the perfect toolbox for achieving my personal moral mission, which is making an end to speciesism and helping people who want to join me doing that. Sounds ideal, right? I think so, and I still think it does. I just came to realise one major thing: running a blog is not so much an introverted affair.
At first sight, a blog does seem to be the perfect project for an introvert. Writing stuff, and in my case also illustrating and doing photography. Of course, the content forms the backbone of any blog, but there is more stuff involved then just publishing your brain farts. It would also be nice that other people actually read them. To make that happen you need to show those people that your blog exists, and give them a reason why they should dedicate their precious time to it. And that is where the extrovert stuff comes creeping around the corner.
Blogging life is like a party. It’s super social, lots of people involved, lots of things asking for your attention, lots of people giving you attention (if you dare to showcase yourself), and lots of networking. All continuously and simultaneously.
Said de extravert
Save my poor soul.
Said de introvert
This overload of external stimulation (‘entertaining’, the extrovert would say) feels a bit like ten people screaming at you as you are busy jumping through a burning hoop while at the same time solving a five-star Sudoku puzzle with a pencil that actually really needs to be sharpened. Stressful? Mwoh.
But wait, that’s not even half of the story yet. The energy of an introvert goes into the details. I want to give 100% of myself for everything I do, dedicating my full attention to every person and situation. That’s what makes me happy. But this superfocused perfectionist mindset doesn’t work with burning hoops, only 24 hours in a day (darn you, Earth. I’m moving to Venus) and an introvert brain. I do realise that now.
Literally ‘In Your Head’
A few weeks ago I wasn’t that far yet with figuring this one out. That I am an introvert in an ‘entertaining’ environment. I was continuously stressed and had no idea why. This blog-thing was such a good idea, right? I was combining all my passions, so why did I then feel so crap?
Little by little I came to realise it wasn’t this website that caused the stress. It was me. Like all crappy feelings are caused by you, because only you are responsible for how you feel about a situation (got that one from my favourite book by the way. I recommend it to everyone – it’s hilarious too). So I arrived at this insight:
The cause of all stress are the demands I put on myself
I think this is an eye opener for many people who recognise themselves in my story. We are our own worst critics. We demand stuff from ourselves that doesn’t fit who we are, or are almost impossible to live up to. Or both! It must be better, more, nicer, faster and prettier. Because we expect it from ourselves and we think others expect it from us too.
At least, that was my subconscious assumption. My website grew so fast in such a short amount of time. From just a creative project it went to a serious blog that attracted hundreds of visitors every day. It’s incredible, and I am so thankful for all support and lovely comments, and I appreciate every silent reader all down to my toes. But as the readership grew, so did my sense of responsibility for you guys. I wanted to keep living up to your expectations and therefore the next article had to be at least as good as the ones before. Preferably better. Longer. Funnier. Because I didn’t want to disappoint you.
Now I realise that this was a false projection of my own thoughts on others. What I did was already good enough (at least I hope!), that improving myself will come naturally, and that more was not the way to go. And I want you to know this too. That you don’t have to change. You are already the perfect version of yourself. Do recognise that.
Be Yourself and Do What You Really Want
People need to have goals in their lives, something to live up to. I recently read that Homo sapiens – us – became so successful as a species, because the status quo never satisfies us for very long. We are always searching for something to improve. That can suck, but we can also improve without aiming for unrealistic outcomes.
Ok, so now you got rid of those self-destructive goals, you may ask yourself: what then is left of me? That’s where personal development comes into place. In order to set the right goals for you, you first have to figure out who you are and what you want. And by that I don’t mean I want you to tell me your name and profession, and that you’d like a bit more money on the bank. I mean who are you really, as the unique person you are. And what do you really want in this life you are living?
I admit, this is heavy shit. But if you are feeling unhappy or stressed out at this moment in your life, maybe you should do a little bit of hard core introspection. You only live once. Life’s too valuable to waste your time on trying to be someone you are not, doing stuff you don’t like.
Of course, you cannot be happy 24/7 and sometimes life sucks hard. Hailstorms will continue to fall when you decided to take the bicycle to work. Babies will still cry at 3 am every night for seven weeks straight. And birds will still shit on your head every once in a while. But those things are out of your control and therefore you cannot do anything about it.
Now let’s focus on the stuff that you can do something about, to make you live the life you love. Get yourself a pen and a piece of paper. I’ll wait here until you got them. Yes you do have time for that because you just read this entire blogpost. Got them? Good. Now write down the two questions below and try to answer at least one of them for yourself now. I’ll share my answers with you after this.
- Who am I?
- What do I want?
What I’ve learned
I also sat down to answer the questions above. I wrote 4 pages (type size 12, Times New Roman). For the who am I-question, I went to www.16personalities.com, where you will find the Myers Briggs Type Indicator test. I recommend this test to everyone. I graduated in Psychology and I think this test is vastly underrated in personality psychology. If you complete the questions you’ll get yourself a score made up of 4 letters that describe you in your core being. At least, that’s the experience I have (INFJ).
The second question, what I want, I haven’t figured out completely. But I know the foundation. I want to inspire people, be around inspiring individuals myself, help people by solving problems they have, educate about the inner life and moral rights of animals, write and illustrate a book (ok, several books) and live a balanced life with excitement but also a lot of structure and freedom from stress.
Reading my personal aspirations in life, this blog isn’t that of a bad idea after all. It’s just that I have to apply the qualities that fit my personality to this blog, and not trying to be someone I am not (ESTP ;)). That doesn’t mean something has to change. Being self-employed and also maintaining a blog in your spare time can be very lonely, and I need to hunt down those inspiring persons I want to meet. Got to think of how to accomplish that..!
So, you reached the end of this blogpost. I didn’t think this would become that long of a story, but I am genuinely happy I could share this with you. It feels like a burden fell off my shoulders and that I can continue as the introvert blogger I am.
And perhaps I helped you as well, finding out a bit more of who you are and what you want your life to be. If that’s true, that would make my day. 🙂
This post is also available in NL