I’m leaving 31 with only one real regret. In all the 365 days allotted to me, I didn’t once go to Basking Robbins 31 Flavors. (31 Flavors for 31 years, get it?) For Jamoca Almond Fudge. Had my chance (all 365 of them), muffed it.
(Did I really go a whole year without Baskin Robbins? Well, I did help eat several boxes of See’s, so all is not lost.)
31 taught me some very important lessons about myself.
Coming up to our tenth anniversary has been like a bell tolling, a marking of time that made me take stock and reassess.
One of the things I have been reassessing are repeating patterns, cycles that I have not found a way out of. If I have worked for ten years to overcome this weakness, power through that fault, and have made no progress, maybe I’ve got it all wrong.
I’ve discovered a couple of things this year.
I am an introvert.
Ding ding! How on earth did I miss this one? Preconceived notions of hermitage? I play well with others and function confidently in public situations, and somehow that pulled the wool over my eyes.
“Introverts are people who find other people tiring.” And best in small doses. Yep.
Introverts need time alone. Yep.
There’s been a lot of attention for introverts this year in the media. Kinda cool. Also affirming.
I am a Highly Sensitive Person.
Over the holiday season, I clicked over from facebook to an article entitled something to the effect of “Helping Your Highly Sensitive Child Through the Holidays”. Only, when I read through the article and found the definition of “highly sensitive”, it wasn’t my children who were highly sensitive, it was me.
I took the self-test and almost laughed and almost cried. It was like I was describing myself.
- I am easily overwhelmed by strong sensory input. (Loud noises, strong smells, bright lights).
- Other people’s moods affect me.
- I find myself needing to withdraw during busy days,into bed or into a darkened room or any place where I can have some privacy and relief from stimulation.
- Being very hungry creates a strong reaction in me, disrupting my concentration or mood.
- My nervous system sometimes feels so frazzled that I just have to go off by myself.
- I make it a high priority to arrange my life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations.
There was a thrill of excitement and discovery: It’s Meeeeeeeeeee! Like I was meeting myself on a webpage.
I was so relieved. The fact that I get easily frazzled and can’t talk or breathe or reason my way out if it isn’t a weakness. It’s just the way I am built.
So many things that I thought were faults or weaknesses to be overcome, powered through, or conquered if I could just muster up enough something (that I didn’t have), aren’t bad things at all. They are good things because they are part of who I am created to be.
And traits that may seem limiting (like being easily overwhelmed) are directly related to strengths (having a rich inner life, being intuitive and empathetic).
It’s been a redemption of my self, how I see myself and how I deal with myself.
These are the traits I have been dealt, just as much as my physical attributes.
“Hello, my name is Leilani. I have blond hair, blue eyes, I need time alone and I get overwhelmed easily.”
I was ready for this.
I was ready to hear, ready to fall gratefully into acceptance. Ready to make changes to accommodate a new understanding. It’s time to work with what I’ve got.
Sometimes it’s almost scary to admit to myself how many things I need to create an environment where I can be my best self and thrive. Am I that dreaded, over-loaded term — high maintenance? Shudder.
Ah, well, I’d rather be a healthy high-maintenance than an over-extended martyr.
I’ve jotted down a list of some of the things that help create my best environment.
Get over 9 hours of sleep. Possibly 10. Regrettably, I haven’t been able to test this one out in recent years. I might be in bed long enough to get 9-10 hours of sleep, but rarely make it through the night without several interruptions. Let’s just say that it used to be true that I needed 10 hours of sleep. Right now, I think I could sleep 11 hour nights for the next year.
Other people can deal with less sleep. I fall apart. Why fight it? Get the sleep. Or try to get the sleep.
Have time alone, not only everyday, but three times a day. I’m like Daniel, needing that retreat morning, noon, and night.
Do yoga regularly. Amen.
Have a creative outlet. Sewing, singing, writing. It’s energizing.
Keep the state of my house is well below my Mess Threshold.
Eat well, eat enough.
Spend time alone and away with Devo. This one has been really hard. We finally secured a regular babysitter (my sister, awwwww) for every other Sunday night, but since putting the plan into effect, Kiri has woken up crying inconsolably every time. <shrug>
So Happy Birthday to me. And thanks to a small coughing boy who refuses any cough soothers for keeping me up wayyyyy late and giving me the opportunity to snuggle in bed with him and think out some of these things. We don’t have high hopes or plans for my birthday tomorrow, being that we have two small ones under the weather and two tired-out parents from long nights of back-rubbing and tea-with-honey-making and child-soothing. Definitely no cake. But the girls cleaned up the house quite nicely last night, so we’re all set for a quiet day of being together. Hopefully with more snuggling. And less coughing.