Perspective. I’ve been reading this great book called Quiet and this along with many triggers and a long time reflecting has made me want to address something dear to me, even though it feels raw and exposing. A lot of information we receive by many medias and sources is drilling into the fact that we as humans are designed for connection and so should be spending our time as much as possible in sizeable communities and circles and with a click of people as often as possible or else we are probably failing at life. And whilst connection and healthy relationships with mutual care are for certain important I feel this is not a truth for everyone and not all people need the same amount of “socialising” to thrive, far from. Modern society (I want to say societies since we’re not all in the same boat in the first place) has long been promoting the idea that the amount of connections you have is a reflection of your value as a human being, which when you actually verbalise it helps to see through it as completely ludicrous. This is maximised by certain medias driving this further into popularity contest, when not just pure sales tactic.
I’ve been fascinated by the subject of belonging for a long time and absorbing a lot of material, probably because I’ve found myself on the fringe more often than not – which I’ve come to realise is where I love to be and always have – the eternal misfit in me. Not only do I not need as much time socialising (rather than spend my time doing exactly what nourishes and delights me, engaging in what Anders Ericsson calls Deliberate Practise, anything from studying, working, to spending time in Nature, with plants, spiritual practice, creative outlets, gardening, learning, reading, teaching yoga, being a mum, partner, all the hats and yes… being a friend + all the other things), I also get drained by social events, which I’ve now come to learn is a characteristic of being an introvert and also being empathic. I’m not going to say being an empath as this is so overused and abused, it’s a bit of a joke.
Russel Brand put it quite well in one of his short clips, our ancestors only knew about a maximum of a 100 people in their entire life (or was it a 1,000? Timing would be a clue) and their day to day communities were much smaller in numbers. This is only in our modern age and technology that we’ve been exposed to influx of voices from around the globe on the daily. Now Russell doesn’t make it a secret that he suffers from social anxiety, something I share, which doesn’t prevent him from operating comfortably in theatres and talking to clever folks in public events and on his podcast that broadcasts to god-knows how many, but he happily spends most of his time with family, avoiding gatherings and parties and other such when he can get away with it. Glennon Doyle is also public about how she loves people and would do anything for them but won’t meet them for coffee or open the front door if anyone knocks un-announced. Martha Beck has often said that although she is a multiple NY Times best seller of books for which she has to do many public events in promotion and she runs classes and workshops, podcasts and Facebook/Instagram lives for the millions she is quite happily, much happier in fact, at home with loved ones, working in her PJs all day. Brene Brown is an incredible public speaker and happily shares of her early struggles with it as an introvert.
I’m not sure why I feel the need to illustrate with public faces, perhaps to make it clear you can be highly efficient operating in society and make different choices or have different needs than the projection of others. There has been and still are many, many known historical or influential figures that were famously uncomfortable in social situations and happy to do what they loved in immersion alone for hours – or share with small groups. And that is totally not to say that introverts (whatever the spectrum and there is much spectrum to be had, do I know it) don’t crave connection, boy we do! Just the right kind in the right amount at the right time – now that is a tricky note to hit 😉 To be seen and heard and valued and give the same in exchange with like-minded big-hearted sensitive people who walk a little on the wild side too now that is something to nourish a soul.
The point of this big all message? Just to say, if your life is not looking like other people’s shares or what you’ve been told it should look like know you are not failing and you are not wrong. You are you and that is where belonging stems.
There’s so much else I could or would like to say on this subject which I’m sure will sip through eventually. If you’re interested here are a few books on the subject or surrounding:
Belonging by TokoPa Turner
You belong by Selene Selassie
Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown and much of her other works
If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Russel Brand speaking on Social Anxiety (I found at least 2 brilliant clips of him talking on the subject that were extremely helpful)
Much love always x