I’m a highly introverted woman. Not shy, not afraid to meet new people or speak publically when it’s called for, but my need for time alone is massive. I revel in solitude, in silence, in the slow and the moment to moment appreciation of beauty around me.
I’m a thinker, a dreamer, a watcher, a listener, and inside this quiet, sometimes reserved frame things germinate and grow. Tender things. Wild things. Powerful things. Secret gardens with an unpredictable, ancient beauty to them. Endless fields that I get to roam at will. And I’m unbelievably happy there.
Or, as some would have me believe: Inappropriately happy.
I read a post in the Creative Doer community on Facebook the other day that reminded me how strong the prejudice against introversion still is in our culture. One participant, writer Anne Linn Kaland wrote beautifully about the longing she felt to turn inwards as winter draws near:
“I would slip into the otherworld if I could. Now, for a long time, and emerge in spring. Darkness, silence, quiet. Moving from window to window, to see the fire in the mountains, the white sky, the dark trees leaning in. To hold a cup of hot tea and breathing in its steam, its herby scent. This is what I want. A long falling into quiet, and listening to the voices in-between, coming from a deeper place, a deeper world.”
Then she shared how bad she felt about wanting to seek solitude and quiet like this, wanting to devote her time to listening and writing instead of the usual socialising. How guilty she felt for wanting to opt out of the busy and the noise, and be less available for friends and family for a while.
The Creative Doer tribe is packed with introverts. Creative, tender, brilliant introverts, and so many of us have been taught that who and how we are is not ok. We are encouraged to step forward, be talkative, outgoing, available, amiable. More active on the outside, less occupied with the inside.
And because we’ve grown up believing these voices, we’ve tried to censor ourselves, to fight our own temperament and tendencies in order to fit in. As a result, our creativity suffers. We lack clarity. We are overwhelmed and don’t even know why. We are lost and don’t know if we can trust that quiet voice inside, calling us to come home again.
That calling has been questioned by others so many times we’ve begun to question it ourselves.
Because what if following it means withdrawing from the world completely? What if giving in to these urges means I’ll become a hermit, ignoring the needs of others and the responsibilities that comes with being human? What if becoming who I truly am means letting down the people I love? What if I lose my friendships? (What if I end up a lonely baglady on the streets!?)
Maybe they’re right when they claim that human connection is what everyone should always want and prioritise. Especially what women should always want and prioritise.
I actually think they are right, connection is what we all want. But – and this is key – not just connection to other human beings, but connection to our Selves, connection to the divine, to nature, to the Muse as well.
To an introvert, this connection to self and to the quiet, non-human world is crucial. It’s what will keep us healthy and balanced, what will allow us to open the gates for creative energy to flow through, it’s what will ground us enough to open our hearts and our arms and let other people in, in a way that is honest and loving.
I know by now that my work as well as my happiness is born out of this acceptance. Out of my own permission to roam my inner landscapes as freely and as frequently as I need to.
Giving myself permission to withdraw has freed me up to become a doer. An introverted, lone-wolf doer, whose arms not only embrace my family, not only the team that keeps my business running, but the hundreds of clients and course participants, and the thousands of readers that are now part of my world.
Withdrawing from it all has made it possible for me to be truly available.
Of course! We are walking paradoxes. The human life is all about embracing paradox. Dancing with the both and.
I can only hold all of these people so close and so lovingly because I allow myself to be who I am. Because I allow myself solitude. Because I allow myself to spend time in the woods and by the lake, alone. Because I allow myself be a writer, to be a solo entrepreneur instead of an employee, to be a good friend of few instead of an acquaintance of many.
I’m not just allowing, I’m enjoying. Shamelessly! As in, I refuse to be ashamed of who I am and how I function. I refuse to believe I need to be something other than what I am to be good enough.
I know by now that when I fight myself, I lose, and everyone around me loses as well, because I can’t show up fully. Unless I’m loyal to myself first, my heart simply won’t open up to others.
I’d go to the ends of the earth for my kids, and I’m thrilled when they leave the house and I get to be alone. Both and.
My husband is my soulmate, and his company can never make up for or replace the company of my own self, of nature, of the divine.
Maybe it’s this simple: The giving I do in my life and my work is directly related to how much I allow myself to fill up. And because I know myself, I allow myself to fill up in the ways that work best for me. By withdrawing, writing, revelling in silence and solitude and deep deep soul connection.
By withdrawing, I’m actually returning to the world – as myself, not as someone I’ve been taught to be. Not out of obligation but out of love.
And that makes all the difference.