We all have our own secrets, some big and some small. I wanted to share one with you that is fairly significant. Those who know me pretty well (and in fact those who know me at all), usually see me in my calm, content, sometimes-even-cheerful state.
However, I have previously gone through my phases of quiet distress, especially during my school and university years when I was struggling to figure out who I was.
The truth is, I often felt strangely disconnected and, at times, even downright different to the ‘norm, or – at least – what I had believed was the norm at the time.
To give some examples:
1. As a child/early teen, I enjoyed things like reading, chess, cartoons, science – i.e. “geeky stuff” which was certainly not considered ‘cool’ back then. I have since embraced my ‘geekiness’ and am actually now proud of it (in the non-egotisitical sense of being proud, of course!) Conclusion: geeks rock. As do scientists, book nerds, anime enthusiasts, cartoon lovers (guilty as charged), and all other such tribes.
2. I have always been a little sensitive, which manifested itself in different ways; for example, taking a throwaway comment made by someone way too seriously, being moved to tears by films (sometimes justifiably, other times it left my wondering just why I was shedding tears!), and so forth. I have since realised I exhibit several of the qualities of an HSP (highly sensitive person).
4. Whilst enjoying socialising with friends and being a huge fan of music and having a good dance (seriously, I get way too carried away), too much clubbing, partying and drinking alcohol left me feeling extremely exhausted. Again, I was almost certainly doing this more than I should have been, and should have listened to my mind and body more. Little did I know at the time, but I was/am an introvert, hence needing energy alone to re-charge and function best – especially after a couple of hours of socialising/general chat/going out – let alone consecutive nights of activity!
These are just a few examples. As a result, I have always felt pretty different to the popular, gregarious, outgoing person which British society seems to encourage/favour. E4’s Made in Chelsea didn’t help with this, either, though I did develop a particular relation to for Francis Boulle…). This has previously led to the battle of being ‘me’ versus being ‘the person whom I believed I ought to be’. Queue my going out, drinking and partying lots, wearing my extrovert mask a little more often than I perhaps should have. Don’t get me wrong, I had some fantastic nights (with some great people and busting some unbelievable moves), however I knew that, deep down, I was really trying to be someone I just wasn’t.
I much prefer getting together in smaller groups which breed deeper and more meaningful interactions. Again, a typical preference of an introvert. I enjoyed going out, but within reason (not every day of the week) and ideally not for too many hours in one go.
I feel glad to have discovered this when I did; I have heard accounts of individuals discovering their introversion only in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and even later than that.
Notably, between one third and one half of the global population are introverts.
It was not until my mid-twenties that I really figured this all out. Since then, I started to:
1. ACCEPT: Be more accepting of myself and who I am
2. AFFIRM: (Re)affirm my beliefs and values
3. ACT: Start living in accordance with points 1 and 2 (above)
And guess what? Having started to do that, it feels pretty darn amazing.
In order to fully take control and build a life on our own terms, we must first understand who we really are, and what we stand for. In short – we must understand our personal beliefs and values (and not those that may be imposed on us by the world around us – both real and digital).