I was never one of those kids who ‘had a dream’ so-to-speak, I never sat in my room looking at pictures of my mentors dreaming of following in their footsteps; I never lay awake at night plotting my plan for success in my chosen industry, and I never had a plan to reach a particular goal by the time I was 30 years of age.
I would watch movie stars, musicians, politicians, sports personalities and entrepreneurs on television always projecting the same mantras; “always shoot for your dream”, “never let anyone stand in the way of your dream”, “just keep focussed on your dream”. Well, I was never lucky enough to have a particular dream that I could shoot for; not allow anyone to stand in the way of, or keep focussed on…and I was always envious of those who did.
The reason I was envious is because to have a dream is to have a direction in life, and to have a direction in life is to have meaning and purpose in your life, something to indeed focus on and shoot for.
However, as it was, I found myself at 18 years of age having just finished high school and about to enter a tertiary course that would see me strapped to a computer and telephone in uninspiring office environments all over Melbourne for my next 18 years on this planet….eh! Has it been that long?
Sure I travelled and did my stint overseas, went back to study at 26 years of age, got married, bought a house and two beautiful dogs, only to return to being just as confused and no closer to finding any real meaning in my life. Most of the time I just felt like I didn’t belong in this world and that I was destined to live a life that would never really make me happy.
What had become blindingly obvious to me, both in my travels and in my time at university, was that I hated socialising a lot of the time, I found it hard to meet people who I could really click with, and tended to feel very isolated and alone as a result.
I also discovered that I could go for long stints of time without people around me and be perfectly happy; I realised how much time I spent living inside my own head (sometimes to the point of being completely unaware of what was going on around me); how much I enjoyed just observing people on a park bench; the feeling of the sun on my face, how much I craved being in peaceful and tranquil surroundings, and how I would often become anxious and irritated in situations where I felt I had no control over my environment, particularly in situations where other people were encroaching on my time and my space.
One would think that such insights into my own behaviors and thoughts would have given me some clarity and direction. However, instead of making me more comfortable with myself, it made me even more uncomfortable with who I was, because it made me feel alone, like I was weird, anti-social, shy, not confident and that there was clearly something wrong with me that needed to be fixed. Subsequently I began to drink heavily and descend into a depression that would last into my early 30’s…far too long!
When I looked back over my life I could see that I had done a lot of really great things and had a lot of successes in my life, but I still never really felt happy with myself, and so I would just continue on the same trajectory sinking deeper and deeper into what I considered to be a ‘mental prison’ that often caused me to ask myself the question “what is the point of living if this is all it’s going to be?”. Whilst I was never suicidal, I was certainly in a position where I felt I could snap and do something stupid and potentially hurt, not only myself, but the people I love just to feel something…anything besides numb, bored and confused.
Alright! Enough of the negative stuff, let’s talk about how I started to find my way out of this ‘mental prison’, and how I slowly began to find some direction.
I was fortunate enough to work for an organization that encouraged their employees to seek out both personal and professional training opportunities and I had found one that really spoke to me; ‘How To Avoid Conflict in the Workplace’, as this was an issue that had contributed to my depression over the years.
What appeared to be a standard training course was actually something entirely different. This course actually explored different personality types and encouraged the participants to come to an understanding of our respective personality types.
So, what kind of personality type do you think I fell into? AN INTROVERT OF COURSE!
At the time I had no idea what an introvert actually was, but it certainly gave me a starting point to begin my own research and thus my journey of recovery…a journey that continues today.
The impact that this revelation had on me changed my life dramatically. I now had a clear understanding of why I was who I was, but most importantly? I now knew that there was nothing wrong with me, nothing that needed to be fixed, nothing that made me weird or out of touch with other people, it was quite simply that I just functioned differently to extroverts, and the best part? I learned there are many people out there like me, many of whom who are probably struggling the way I did for so many years.
This is how I found my direction and my passion. I want to not only help introverted people to come to terms with who they are and what they need in this world, but to create a safe space for my ‘innie’ comrades to come and spend some time together; to relax and to share stories, but most importantly? To be comfortable with who you are among like-minded souls.
Thanks for reading my story, feel free to share yours, and welcome to Introversion by Leisha, you are always welcome.