Why forcing yourself to converse is so important…

IMG_4389

I’ll just come right out and say it; my natural instinct is to run and hide, turn completely inwards and build things up in my mind. I’m not a natural conversationalist by any means, in fact a comfortable silence with loved ones is something I really enjoy. If someone invites me to a social gathering, I usually worry about the fact I’ll have to engage in small chat with strangers, something I assume poking needles in your eyes would feel like. I’m expected to be courteous, charming and interested while pushing down the screaming introvert within, and sometimes it’s just easier to decline. But at what cost to my growth and development as a human?

I have a girlfriend who calls me nearly every day for a chat, and every single time the phone rings my gut instinct is to not pick it up. Why? What the hell is wrong with me? Even though 9 times out of 10 I’ll feel better after chatting to her, bouncing ideas around and venting about life, I just can’t seem to learn. It’s incredibly frustrating and something I’m acknowledging right here and now that I’m committing to working on. I don’t expect to become a public speaker or the next biggest socialite, but I do hope to stop associating conversations with an ingrained flight response.

I assume this preference of mine was developed over the years from being an only child until I was 10, and from living mostly with my grandparents who aren’t big talkers either. Dinner was usually a silent affair over the 6pm news so my Pop could hear the stories of the day, and discussing your issues in any great depth was something not really done. If anything scandalous happened within the family it was conveyed in hushed whispers, so I suppose I’ve developed an intuitive response to internalise my feelings, or turn to diary (and blog) writing. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with this, however if I should start a family of my own one day I’ll certainly be more conscious of these behaviours and encourage open discussion.

Would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on how I can improve this tendency of mine… And hoping you have a great week 🙂

IMG_4014

Photo credits – rsa_mextures & yuugi83

When you stop running, doors start opening.

IMG_4016

I’m writing this post tonight as I reflect on the people I’ve met recently through work, who’ve opened up to me rather quickly about their own personal battles. I don’t know if it’s because A) They feel like they can trust me or B) They just want someone to talk to. It’s probably a mixture of both, and don’t get me wrong – I’m more than happy to listen and engage in deep conversation early on into meeting people. None of this small chat about the weather! Let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. But I can’t help but feel a little guilty for initially trying to appear as someone I’m not. You see after the awful year I had in 2016, I wanted this job to be a fresh start where I could leave all my past behind. I wanted to be cool, calm and collected. I wanted to leave my personal life at home and be the ultimate professional on the job. But after my recent conversations with these colleagues, I’ve realised how much humans crave that connection – and how important it really is.

I spent all my energy last year trying to cover up the fact that I simply was not okay. I wasn’t okay going into those meetings, or making those cold calls. I wasn’t okay with that workload, or with that pressure, and I most certainly wasn’t okay with pretending I cared about such meaningless tasks. So this year I told myself that I would focus on me, and what I really wanted. I would take a less stressful job where I didn’t know anyone, and they wouldn’t know how close I’d come to rock bottom. I didn’t have to disclose the battles I’d come through, and I intended on staying that way. I’d come from a workplace culture of keeping your mouth shut and carrying on – you were a cog in the wheel and every cog was replaceable. So I tried, for as long as I could to keep my cool – but as many of you will know that became impossible.

Since meeting the staff in my new job and having them open up to me about their own battles (be it sexual identity issues, domestic violence or mental health problems), I’ve realised that it’s OKAY to be honest with people straight up. We don’t have to wear this mask we create for ourselves, and we don’t have to be ashamed of whatever we’ve gone through. We should feel empowered to be transparent, be trusting, and lean on each other. After all we are in this job together, and how can we really perform to the best of our abilities if we don’t know each others triggers and weak spots?

From now on I intend to be completely honest with my colleagues, both current and future. I’m done with pretending to be someone I’m not, and you can either take it or leave it. We’re all unique individuals with our own stories of perseverance, and we should lift each other up – not bring each other down.

IMG_3450

Photo credits – maison.chloeyeur & hautepunchmag

Let’s just see what happens.

image

It comes up time and time again – the belief that our generation has too many options for our own good. We don’t stay in jobs or even career paths long, always searching for the next big thing. We’re worried about missing out on things but can’t enjoy what we’re currently doing. We like to be ‘free’ but are told we need a plan. Sometimes, it all just gets a little too much. How was I meant to know in Grade 12 what I wanted to study and pursue for the rest of my life, without barely having any life experience? Wouldn’t it be easier if we just had to choose between being a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker?

These are the questions that I have been reflecting upon lately in trying to figure out my next move. I did the degrees, the internships and the work experience, but somehow came out on the bottom not knowing if this was enough to satisfy me until I’m grey and withered. They say that if you do what you love, then you’ll never have to work another day in your life. While that’s all great and all, how do we know what we love until we’ve tested the waters? I’m not completely in the dark here. I know I’m not built to be a pushy sales person, or an athlete. I know I like writing, expressing myself and seeing the bigger picture. I know I don’t like red tape and strict rules, I like to be flexible and believe all scenarios are different. I know I like the outdoors, but also appreciate a nice cup of tea and quiet time. Can’t I just put all these things into Google and be told what suits me best!?

Well, yes and no. Career websites do try and help you with surveys and personality tests (tried and tested INFP here according to the Myers-Briggs theory), which apparently means I like to communicate through metaphors and fictional characters.“Where INFPs will not thrive is in a high-stress, team-heavy, busy environment that burdens them with bureaucracy and tedium. INFPs need to be able to work with creativity and consideration…” Well, THAT I figured out all on my own. But where does that leave me?

This is why I’ve come home to be with my family for a while, to take a ‘gap year’ of sorts. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing – enjoying the ocean, playing with the animals, enjoying my family, reading and writing, and fingers crossed I’ll have a stroke of inspiration and know what my next step is. At the very least all I can do is try something out – as they say “When you know, you know.” Until then, happy days 🙂

image

Photo credits – storyofsage & visualsofearth