When you experience serious illness (whether its cancer or something else), the focus becomes all about survival. Survival often requires you to put your head down and grind out the journey, and often you are doing this all very privately. Now I know what you’re thinking….You private? Didn’t you just lay out your whole journey line by painful line in your blog? Didn’t you just write a book about that!!? Are you sure you’re talking about yourself here Bex – you who has no problem being an open book to anyone who asks?
Well my friend, there is a difference between sitting quietly at home by yourself and soul-dumping on the keyboard, and getting onstage for the ‘world’ to stare at you. And yes, while I think of it, it did take a lot of courage for me to put myself out there in cyber land and make myself so vulnerable, but I really had no choice in the matter. At least, I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to live out my calling or purpose on earth. But that’s a whole other subject.
I am an introvert that forces herself to function extrovertly, as I’m sure is the case for many people. But that forcing comes at a high price.
For many of us introverts, living under any kind of spotlight is exhausting, let alone when you are fighting for your life. Even simple tasks like human contact or simple interaction can take a lot of energy – mental, emotional, and even physical. I was like this even before I got sick, but worked hard to overcome it by challenging myself and stepping up to meet certain demands. Being a tutor at the local Polytech or speaking/preaching in church are just two of the uncomfortable situations I taught myself to embrace. But since I’ve been sick and have spent a lot of time in my comfy cave, the overcoming has become a lot harder.
Most of the time I have to really prep myself mentally before engaging socially, let alone professionally. Oh I can do it on the fly, but it’s not comfortable that’s for sure. If I don’t prepare myself two things can happen, I either stay in my bat cave and avoid contact like the plague (which I realise is slightly unhealthy) or if I do venture out and don’t prepare myself I can get a wee bit anxious and stressed out. None of this you will see on the surface by the way – just to make it that much more interesting. Ah yes I am the master of hats. Unless my anxiety teams up with my hot flushes and then the red paint splash is on the wall! Funny story about that....
Recently I had to run a workshop for 20 something staff members at my new job. This was my first public speaking/workshop in over 2 years. I thought I was doing quite well all things considered and had my anxiety under control right up until the moment I was introduced (an extremely humbling introduction), at which point I became quite embarrassed as everyone was staring at me. Then to top it off, along came a wicked hot flush right at that exact moment. Can I tell you, you haven’t seen the colour of a fire engine until you’ve seen my face in such circumstances! And to make matters even more excruciating, I’m sure it took the entire workshop for my face to calm down! Honestly it was mortifying! I’ve been told the workshop was great, but it certainly didn’t feel great at the time.
I have many many more of these experiences coming up around the corner – ones I know about and ones I don’t. There is never a dull moment in my life that’s for sure. The battle is real people! But we do what we have to do right? To become better, to stretch ourselves, to build capacity. Life would be so boring if we spent all of our days curled up in the corner of our dark and dismal cave! I own the fact that I am an introvert, and if you’re one too then you should to.
In saying that I also believe and understand that I was created to be a light, and what good is a light on top of a hill if it is covered up. True? So shine baby, shine! Get to work on yourself so other people can be enlightened by the wonderful you! Get uncomfortable, embrace the unknown, stretch your capacity and keep growing no matter what! That's my advice from one introvert to another xxx