Compliments and Criticisms

Hello.

I believe I have previously mentioned somewhere on here that I am an introvert… maybe here? So… I guess we’ll start from there.

Introversion can manifest in a variety of ways but, the most common connection made with introversion is extreme, practically painful, shyness. I am not that kind of an introvert. Some general qualities of introversion may include a preference towards one-on-one or small group settings; preferring to express thoughts and ideas in writing; caring less than average about wealth, fame, and status; disliking small talk and preferring topics, and work that allows one to dive in with few interruptions; doing your best work on your own; being drained by spending time out and about, even if it was enjoyable and many other things. Introverts can often be “soft spoken” or “mellow” but may not be.

A lot of what I am saying is discussed in depth in a book called “Quiet” by Susan Cain, which I highly recommend for anyone to read if you have an interest in personality development and leadership. I’ve honestly cut the list very short and removed a lot of the subtlety from it!

I probably have become more introverted as I have gotten older. When I look back on my childhood I believe I may have qualified as something nearer an ambivert initially. This fluctuation I believe stems from a phenomenon known as the “extrovert ideal” (again, see the book, it’s amazing).

The extrovert ideal developed in North America along with the rise of the culture of personality which occurred in the late twentieth century. Before the culture of personality the prevalent culture was one of character–your actions were considered to be representative of who you truly were in character centred culture–the ideal wasn’t a big personality, which might prove hollow, but a consistent, serious, and disciplined approach to your commitments that proved your value over time. The culture of personality took over as urbanization and nine to fives replaced our agricultural roots.

In urban business culture who you knew, how visible, bold, and charismatic you were, and your social standing became just as important to success as hard, consistent work were on the farm. North America, and the US in particular became fascinated with the bold and entertaining and the age of personal performance began. (Again, I really recommend reading the book!)

So how did an ideal that rewards extroversion reinforce my introverted tendencies? What happens if a kindergartener goes to school and plays in the corner on their own? The teacher gets concerned. Why? Because we believe that a tendency to spend time alone, a prominent trait of introversion, is inherently bad. Again, why?

The fact is, there isn’t a good why. While extroverts tend to advertise their best qualities more readily, that doesn’t mean introversion doesn’t have its advantages. However, our culture has pushed extroversion as the best way to be so vocally, for so long, that introversion is seen as an essential defect that needs fixing. So children who play alone or aren’t interested in changing task rapidly when they find one they like or who don’t want to read out loud with the rest of the class are pushed to do all these things.

Now the way I phrased that last sentence puts the introverted child in a negative light: these are the things they don’t want to do, but what if I rephrased it? This child exhibits independent interests as well as exceptional concentration in their areas of interest and enjoys reading in their personal time.

So this intro has gotten out of control… give me a few more sentences ‘kay?

What I’m getting at is that a fair number of my fundamental likes and dislikes were at odds with a public ideal when I was young, so being a malleable creature, with child-like brain plasticity, I adapted. How does an ambivert leaning towards introversion adapt to an extremely extroverted expectation though?

I developed two modes of being. I became a bubbly, talkative, interruption prone, self assured public presence at school and an extreme introvert at home, with a very small group of people I chose to interact with, a large stack of books, pets that I liked better than most people, and hobbies and routines many would think verge on hermit-ish as well as a tendency to be easily overwhelmed by sudden changes or demands put on me.

Now how does this relate to compliments and criticism, one might ask. Here’s the thing, a person who comes across as confident verging on domineering in public is assumed to have a robust inner assurance with which to deal with criticism and is assumed to be well aware of their value and strengths in such a way that they do not require reassurance or compliments to know they’ve done well.

This makes having a dichotomous personality extremely challenging because your public persona is at odds with how you receive and process criticism and how much encouragement you need to feel confident in a task or interaction. I am fundamentally insecure about most things privately: social interactions (did it go well, did I say the right things, what do they think of me?), work performance (they haven’t commented on anything I’ve done recently, are they seething internally but not telling me to be polite, if they don’t say anything is that because my performance was mediocre or because it was so good they don’t have any suggestions to improve it?), personal choices (if I cut my hair how will that change how people perceive me, is it weird to blow bubbles when chewing gum after the age of twelve, if I suddenly start wearing makeup will people think I look like a clown, if I do look like a clown will people be honest with me?) and so on.

This insecurity, however, is at odds with the character I portray in public and therefore not likely to be considered when people are interacting with me, whether its classmates, professors, or bosses.

During my recent hiatus from writing here this aspect of my personality came to a head in an interesting way. And… now I need to backtrack to fully explain that… bear with me please?

A couple of years ago I worked somewhere where the owners were married and their opinions as to where said business was headed was fundamentally at odds which meant I often found myself trying to balance two entirely different sets of priorities set by stressed people. This job was fairly high demand in some ways but low demand in others, and while management could be difficult the other employees were easy going and fun to be around. Partway through my time working there another person was brought on in a position of some authority to provide some relief for ownership so they could take some time off/ease back on their working hours slightly.

This new employee had a very different set of priorities than either of the owners, which now needed to be accounted for when trying to balance your day as an employee. While I tried to consider this as much as possible, I still prioritized what I found from ownership higher (in general) than the new employees thoughts on things. At the same time, in my interactions with ownership, I saw that while the new employee was an authority, they seemed to find some of her opinions rather silly. I was surprised that this was talked about behind the new employees back rather than addressed but tried not to worry about it.

After a couple of weeks with the new employee present I started to realize that she seemed to dislike me and was often snappish with me. My response was to try to remain relatively jovial and smiley in the hopes that it would dissipate this dislike. It didn’t, my balancing of priorities wasn’t to her liking and it came to a major head when we were alone at one point.

I think I asked about retrieving the next thing for whatever job we were working on when it happened. She yelled at me and though I’m not sure exactly how it began I do recall being told I make excuses, think very highly of myself, am arrogant in a way that is unacceptable in one so young, that I am bothersome, lazy, only do the jobs I like to do and try to pawn other jobs off on people, and overly exuberant and a variety of other things that culminated with the phrase, “And (Boss’s name here) thinks so too!”

I was stunned, I had no reply for it other than to look around the room to make sure I was still inhabiting reality. I couldn’t very well try to explain myself could I? Since I was always making excuses. I just sat in my brain, utterly overstimulated, harking back to an emotionally manipulative woman I worked for in Australia, and a barn manager who had said things that made me want to punch her in the face because “you don’t know me!” All these people, saying different but equally negative things about who they believed me to be internally and what they believed my motivations were.

I couldn’t understand why it was that these people didn’t see who I actually was. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t have brought these concerns to me privately, one at a time, calmly. Why was it people always just blew up in my face? And what the hell was so wrong with me? Was I really just continuously associating myself with mean-spirited people or was I actually the utterly shitty person they seemed to think I was? I went and started the next thing that needed doing.

The next day I approached another employee on my level and asked her if she felt I avoided certain jobs or wasn’t pulling my weight like she was. She looked confused and said no, and asked why? So I explained the situation to her. She considered my question again and reassured me that she certainly didn’t feel that way and since the tasks we were responsible for were shared she would’ve noticed, what she had noticed was that the new employee seemed to dislike me and intentionally try to make me look bad to others. While this was reassuring a part of me was still latched on to the last sentence of the verbal barrage.

It took a few days but I stewed about it until I could scratch together the confidence to ask my boss whether she felt this way about me, and if so whether I should find another job. She looked surprised and said no, although there were a few things she might like me to become more competent with or just more sensitive of. That was a criticism I could accept and work on, delivered calmly. What I didn’t expect was the massive blow up that then occurred between the boss and the new employee–which I suspect has severed the friendship that once existed between them to this day.

I can’t say my experience at that job got much better, as I was yelled at again, by someone else, for something else much further outside of my control before I left and cried in front of one of my bosses (it was one of those I’m so angry that I’m either going to cry or punch someone moments).

Altogether though the reason I was frequently getting yelled at became clearer over my multitude of experiences:

  1. when I ask questions, due to my apparent confidence, instead of seeming to ask for assurance I appear to be doubting the instructions or competency of others;
  2. my carefully crafted air of assurance can come across to others as cocky or arrogant;
  3. the time I spend trying to carefully prioritize other peoples things, when viewed by someone who hasn’t watched what I’ve been doing continuously, can make me seem lazy or insubordinate to the person who’s things I haven’t been prioritizing as highly;
  4. when I offer other people the choice of what they want to do rather than switching who does what regularly it can make it look as though I prefer certain jobs;
  5. my attempts to ensure I am making friendly conversation can come across as over exuberant to someone who isn’t interested in talking;
  6. my attempts to make my reasoning understood may be read as making excuses;
  7. I often come across as more competent than I am by being exceptionally good in one area;
  8. my air of confidence makes it intimidating to try to address things as they come up no matter how subordinate my role is to the person noticing the problem;
  9. and my general demeanour makes it seem like I can handle being screamed at well

Since these incidents I have encountered people who are more careful when they correct me and in general it seems that people who are personally secure tend to deal with me in more productive ways.

The reason I say this came to an interesting head recently though, is because I had a break during which I spent time volunteering on a project. A couple of days in I received a compliment from the person directly in charge of me that absolutely dumbfounded me.

My supervisor, after a particularly sleepless few days turned to me and said something along the lines of, “I’m not quite sure how to say this, but I feel like I should let you know that I’ve really enjoyed having you over the last couple of days and you’ve been really helpful. You have this kind of… quiet confidence that has been really reassuring, you just seem to know that everything is going to work out, you are upbeat and encouraging, and you act very competently even though these are new situations for you.”

Now, that’s not word for word but that’s the gist of it. My reply was, awkward silence to begin with because who knows how to respond to that type of feedback. I settled on the poorest expression of gratitude that has ever come out of my mouth (which I honestly wish I could take back and replace with the words thank you) which was, “Haha, thanks, some people have called that cocky.”

After I had gotten a bit of sleep, I reflected on this interaction and realized something: all of these people I’ve mentioned in the last few paragraphs were looking at the same set of traits under different circumstances, with different perspectives.

One set of people looked at me, without watching me carefully, and said, “This kid does things her own way without asking for input from me, appears not to treat all tasks equally, is overly chatty but sometimes ominously quiet and is always explaining away blame, and is clearly arrogant because she prioritizes things other than my things!” While another person, working under fairly extreme conditions, in close contact with me, looked at me and said, “This kid tries to think ahead and be ready for what is coming next even though things are constantly changing, she’s independent and takes on responsibility where she feels confident, is optimistic despite challenges, tries to be encouraging and communicative, and clearly is trying to work with me using her personal resources!”

This same supervisor generously let me catch extra sleep, even though I told her to give me a hard poke when the alarm went off (when I’m low enough on sleep, I sleep hard) and gently corrected me on occasion, while still never faulting me if I did things independently or went off on my own, and offering me opportunities to do more as I showed I was capable.

To put this all together, while the dichotomy of my personality may never be completely erased and while there may always be people who feel threatened by the strange version of extroversion I have manifested, there will still be people who are capable of seeing the positives in my strange covert introversion. On a personal note I will continue my attempts to make my performance persona and who I am internally line up better, and we should all probably let the compliments and criticisms of others slide away and find ways to value ourselves independent of others regardless (while still being realistic about our faults and failures).

Lordy, that was long! If you got to this point and still have a minute to spare, comment on whether your an introvert, an extrovert, an ambivert! (And if you want to share your struggles from any of those perspectives, go for it!)

 

xx.

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Overthinking It!

Well guys, I looked back through my ideas for fun this summer and… I totally failed to do maybe eighty percent of them.

C’est la vie though right?

I also increasingly realize that I have so many ideas that a certain percentage of them will always be left undone, which I suppose makes prioritization key.

One idea that I have decided not to leave undone this year is getting fit again and hitting a more ideal weight. As an asthmatic carrying extra weight is always a negative–fat is inflammatory and my lungs like to take any excuse to be inflammatory and run with it.

This is something that has been on my mind for years now. Even in high school, when I was lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons it made me self-conscious to be as heavy as I was (probably about 175-185 lbs depending on the year). Riding horses as well, I always found myself worried about “the jiggle” at clinics with slim, long-legged fellow riders watching me bounce about on my horse.

Honestly, midway through junior high (right when puberty is kicking a person in the butt), I quit almost all the sports I was still participating in except horseback riding. The problem is, I was able to eat however I wanted when I was growing and playing sports but in junior high between hormones, quitting sports, and stalling out in the height department I was out-eating myself. At certain points in my life I even had a strange pride attached to being able to keep up with the boys eating wise and I have always had a self conscious thing about finishing my plate (if I served myself too much that’s my fault and I don’t want to throw out good food, or insult the cook).

Now, my mom is a nurse and when she was young she was in fabulous physical shape herself, meaning I know what eating right looks like and basically always have. The trouble was I had cash in my pocket and friends who hadn’t stopped growing and were always keen to go to the corner store or go out to eat because it was still a novelty at that point (to be independent). That plus the fact that we “never” had treats at home (we did, but not the kinds that came in plastic packaging like gushers and fruit by the foots etc.) meant I packed on a few pounds.

Even my mom, over the years has put on a few more pounds (and has a very similar build to me). That’s not to say she doesn’t eat healthy and exercise but deny thyself has never been a major motto for my family when it comes to food (exercise more is probably more our style but I’m the lazy one in the family on some fronts).

My sister has been on a fitness journey for years now, ever since she started university having come back from Bible college in Australia with the extra pounds she already had plus a few more, and is still working out quite a lot. For Sis, some of the journey was driven by health issues as well (junior rheumatoid arthritis, no longer junior but onset was early and painful). With her health stuff well controlled with medication and the extra pounds being more of a hinderance than ever she used the change of moving to University as a jump-off point for huge changes in her diet and exercise regimen.

Now, my sister is by far the more disciplined of us two but with all that said–I can drop ten pounds in two weeks if I’m not stressed out and nobody else is around to buy food and put it somewhere I can find it. Which only proves that not being at a good weight is shear laziness on my part.

This year I’ve decided to stop being ridiculous. I bought a new bike after my cheap one was stolen last year (plus locking skewers and a freaking amazing lock and cable set), I joined the masters swim club on campus (because I worry the least about being judged in the pool, compared to the gym), I walk to school if I’m not biking, and I am pushing myself to get up to running a non-stop 5km (this is slow going but I’m hopeful cross-training and giving myself until April to get up to that distance will do the trick). I’m also stretching five days a week for half an hour in the morning (good old o’six hundred, how I love…hate…love you).

I’m also cooking all my own food (which is pretty normal for me) and making time for it despite school (I’m squirrelling away leftovers into the freezer so I don’t have to cook when things go too nuts). The big change in my cooking this year is that I am emphasizing making sure I eat meat (protein is really important to my energy levels and concentration) because I have noticed I easily fall back on simple carbs when I’m stressed–or just eat gigantic, cheese and dried fruit happy salads and then carbs and candy when I still don’t feel satisfied–and don’t want to put in the effort (pasta or tortilla chips are just so easy).

Today, four weeks into school for me, I am down 9-10 lbs (sitting at 182). That might seem crazy considering I told you I can do that in two weeks but I’m super happy because it is a sustainable pace, I love what I’m eating, and I’m not hungry or feeling deprived. I also have never stuck to a consistent stretching routine for this long in my life!

Swim club starts on Friday and I am nervous (for all sorts of all-in-my-head reasons) but a little excited too! I’ll see you on the other side of that, but in the meantime here’s my favourite fast, high protein breakfast hack:

Oatmeal:

1/3 Cup Oatmeal

2-3 Tbsp. Hemp hearts (super high protein)

2 Tbsp. Chia seeds (also super high in protein)

1 Tbsp. Honey

Liquid as needed (for cool flavours steep your favourite tea ahead and use it, Chai or Jasmine Black Dragon is my favourite)

Season as you like (I love cinnamon, cardamom, or ground cloves, or make a sugarless gingerbread or pumpkin spice flavour. You can also omit the honey if you want to sweeten your spice mix)

Add frozen fruit (just a bit, raspberries are great and I freeze them from my Mom’s garden)

 

Just by adding the hemp hearts and chia seeds you pack in 15 extra grams of protein!  Many cereals have 5 g protein or less in a serving! I find this keeps me full for my morning classes (from 0830-1230) and often the serving is almost too much (sometimes I cut it back or even in half if I have a morning snack planned).

 

Have you ever fallen off the fitness wagon? How did you get back to it? Or if you didn’t do you feel that was a choice that made you happier?

 

xx.

Sunshine Bloggin’ It

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s a new form of chain mail?

Well, I have to say thank you to the Mainepaperpusher (Linda) You should definitely check out her blog… here!

So, I didn’t know what the Sunshine Blogger Award was and with that in mind I’m going to give you a brief rundown of what it is: The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. (Not my words, the description I got.)

So how does this work?

Well, it’s the bloggy, friendly equivalent of chain mail… which coincidentally I always ignore. So, to those whose blogs I plan to link–feel no obligation to continue the chain, I’m doing it because… well, Linda rocks!

Also note, for many of these blogs I am a silent observer so, well… sorry if you don’t recognize me! Some of them are single posts too, just certain ones I’ve read and liked. To any blogs I follow and didn’t list, or that I comment on regularly and don’t have on here, I mean no offence! I tried to include some of the blogs I less actively comment on or that I recently reread after an absence.

Basic info:

Generally you link back to your nominator.

You answer the 11 unique questions chosen by your nominator.

You nominate another 11 blogs (no tags-backs!).

You make a set of 11 questions for your nominees.

And you put up the Sunshine Blogger Logo at the top of your post and give the rules.

Now, this has been a long time coming. Mainly because I forgot about it, partially because compiling a list became a real process, and partially because I was dragging my feet on unleashing my first ever piece of “chain mail” unto the world. I have decided that it will be my one and only. So, enjoy it guys, in no particular order (if you want to go straight to my answers to the questions from Linda just go past the list)!

Dogtown–I love the simple things and hearing about peoples lives and this blog is one of my favourites for that.

D.I.Y.-ing Machine–I specifically love this post because I relate to it super strongly, but in general I love to see other people accomplishing their creative ideas and this is the place I look to for that.

jhubner73–This one is because it gave me a new Canadian artist to listen to who, honestly, didn’t scar my ears and sounds chill enough to chill me out (a tall order!).

Until Tomorrow— One of those, thank God I’m not alone, posts I read a while back.

Monahchopsis–One of my favourite places for a poetry fix.

Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera–For the love of photography.

Observaterry–A walk on the arty side of my love.

Tea and Bannock— This article fabulously addresses mental health, self care, and a culture of busy people, relating specifically to higher education and I love it!

Hawaii Pacific Review— A poignant poem on breaking, power, beauty, and death and the relationship between it all.

Travel 67— Some striking Geisha’s (I am unsure of some of the terms used) and fabulous photos of the moment.

Sketching Family— Another arty trip.

And an extra little something for those curious clickers…

Now for Linda’s questions:

1. What do you believe is the root of the world’s problems today?

Probably greed, and ignorance. I just hate the “I worked hard for this so I’m not going to share because you haven’t worked hard enough/gone through enough in my opinion to deserve my government-papers-that-confer-value” and the “I-think-Google-and-me-are-smarter-than-my-doctor” attitudes. I mean, don’t enable and do advocate for yourself. However, while you’re at it stop trying to tell me that you need a new sports car every year and don’t want to pay taxes when you won’t step off your pedestal and help out the less fortunate without being forced to, and stop insisting that someone with eight years of education is lying because of twenty minutes of googling. Doing away with those attitudes could help us turn a corner towards supporting all people (regardless of nationality or economic circumstance) and advancing innovation and problem solving.

2. If you could be a television star, what character would you want to be?

Hawkeye, both Dr. Benjamin Hawkeye Pierce and the Hawkeye/Clint Barton at once but in parallel universes (so, not like a Clark Kent/Superman thing where I have to change in a phone booth or anything) and you know, female versions of them.

3. Other than basic necessities, what are 3 things you would take with you as you colonize Mars?

Um, is a bag/box/storage pod of books a single item? I’m going to say yes. So, that, and since its “things” I’m going to say family doesn’t qualify, and pets don’t so… a fairy garden of earth plants, and…my favourite pocket knife.

4. What is the title of the book you would write if you were stranded on a desert island?

Lessons of Lakes and Rivers: The Mirage Reflections

5. If you were a color, what would it be, and why?

Sea glass teal–because while I’m easily understood as I am now, you’ll never completely know where I’ve been, or clearly see whats inside/who I am. I think never truly knowing a person is true of anyone but the whole not knowing me/where I’ve been isn’t because I’m trying to be cryptic or melancholy, it’s just because of the sheer number of adventures I’ve gone on completely within my own mind.

6. What food do you absolutely detest?

I hate the texture of tomato innards.

7. In the “Queen/King of the World” election, who would you vote for and why?

Ryan Reynolds, because he has a fantastic sense of humour and seems to tell it like it is. I don’t think he would take himself too seriously, and he might even get something done.

8. What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had?

In an airport parking garage elevator with some singing superstar and her body guard (he’s between her and I and the squish is crazy tight) and she has long dangley earrings. I look over and notice she has a piece of sliced sandwich meat hooked to one of her earrings. So I’m like, “Excuse me, you have a piece of sandwich meat on your earring.” She glances over at her earring, yanks the piece of sandwich meat off and says, “Oh, that’s where it went”, and proceeds to eat it. Throughout it all her body guard doesn’t even move.

9. If you could pick an existing symbol/icon/logo to represent you, what would it be and why?

The Toblerone mountain–to remind myself and everyone who encounters me to explore more.

10. What is your favorite joke that you’ve told more than once?

Oh, cheesy as all get out but the interrupting cow one and less cheesy but also less relevant now unless you change all the names the George Bush and a teenager in a plane one.

11. What is your favorite mode of transportation, even if you’ve never experienced it?

First, horseback, but as it is typically a little too slow… Trains. Love em. Slow enough to see the sights (unless we’re talking bullet I suppose), but fast enough to get you there before your holiday is up. I also love planes, mainly because I find turbulence fun but really there’s less to see. Although, on the unexperienced list would be dragon, hypogryph, and pegasus.

Now, your mission (my eleven questions), should you choose to accept it, is difficult, harrowing even. Know there is no shame in not completing all the objectives, the only true objective is personal reflection (some of the answers here are probably awfully personal so no pressure to post all your answers):

  1. What one thing should someone know about you if they truly know you?
  2. What is one thing you regret doing?
  3. What is one thing you don’t regret doing that others might think you should?
  4. What is one thing you regret not doing?
  5. If you had to get a tattoo what would you get (feel free to draw this one or put in a picture)?
  6. What is your opinion in the debate about doctor assisted suicide/human euthanasia (controversial I know, don’t feel obligated to answer even if you are doing the questions)?
  7. Are freedom and law and order at odds with each other?
  8. If you could make up any word and it would instantly become part of the vocabulary of the world what would the word be, and what would it mean?
  9. If your life where reduced to a single haiku what would the haiku say (in your own words)?
  10. What where the first words out of your mouth after you made the biggest mistake of your life (thus far), do you think they were fair?
  11. If you knew that the love of your life (assume you believed such a thing existed), your true match, had passed away before you ever met them, would you still pursue an imperfect love with someone else?