I Don’t Fit in a Box…

There are so many times when I want to scream the title of this post out loud.  People want you to fit into a nice neat package that makes sense to them.  Except I don’t.  Oh, there are all sorts of words for it.  Highly Sensitive Personality or HSP is one term I’ve come across.  Another one is that I have a high EQ or emotional intelligence or something like that, I would have to look it up.  More labels and more terms to describe the fact that I am a bit of a complex person emotionally.  I don’t do it on purpose, I just was made that way.

Trying to explain to someone why I feel the way I do, I usually have to simplify it for them.  For them A = B.  For me A = B but then it also equals I, P, Q and Y.  Even my husband who is highly intelligent cocks his head sideways at me like a puzzled dog at times when I try explain why I am feeling this way or that.  Trust me, I wish A = B and sometimes it is that simple and other times it’s not.  

A person who is HSP usually doesn’t like crowds and interactions with a lot of people can drain them.  This is true of me to an extent.  Depends on what the crowd is for and who the person or people I am dealing with.  It is not that there is something wrong with me, it is just I am sensitive to things other people are not.  A study published showed that after you reach a certain point of IQ, up in the ther higher intellect levels people rate themselves as less happy than their counterparts with lower IQ’s.  I believe it is because their minds never shut off and there are too many outcomes, too many outliers and too many things to consider to ever feel completely content and settled.  Of course that is strictly my own theory.  Maybe there is a thing as being too smart.  

Some of the most creative and genius people struggled with just day to day functioning.  Look at Van Gogh, ultimately creative and cut off his own ear.  I won’t bore you with other somewhat depressing examples but there seems to be a theme among the gifted. For me it is that I sometimes don’t feel like I fit in even in my own life.  My mind won’t shut off, I’m always over analyzing and over thinking things.  Sometimes I must be reminded to relax and have some fun.  Enjoy what I have.  I always feel I must be achieving something, doing something and being productive.  It’s hard for me to shut down and have “down” time.  I find my down time best spent riding my bike or hiking.  It combines peacefulness and doing “something” which seems to work for my personality.

Sometimes in my work, I have a hard time letting go of the fact I have to wait for someone else to do their job especially when it interrupts my day or puts me behind.  I am sure it is because I do not have control of the situatuion and I just make myself miserable by being angry and anxious.  Laid back people wouldn’t even bat an eye but my Type A ways just works against my inner peace.  I need to learn to take a deep breath and remind myself, the world is not truly ending.  

As I venture into a new chapter of my life where my kids are grown and I’m thinking now what, I struggle with the fact I don’t have a set plan.  Before my life was on this particular track, whether it be surviving and keeping a roof over my head, raising my girls or taking care of my mother so I didn’t have time to think of “what’s next?”  You can revisit your old dreams and then you realize well they don’t matter anymore because you’ve changed and those things don’t seem important.   You’ve even put yourself in a box thinking this is who I am.  Then one day you wake up and you realize the box is too small. You’ve outgrown the parameters of the life you had once lived.

I will admit, it is a bit scary thinking of what’s next in my new chapter.  Right now I’m finishing a degree program I have been working on for 10 years though not consistently.  Most of my adjustments have been that my life has changed dramatically and I am not a caretaker anymore.  Being a caretaker took up a lot of my time.  I now may have a whole day where I don’t have anything I “need” to do and that feels very unsettling at times.  Though I used to dream of that day when I wouldn’t be so scheduled and taxed.  I look around and think, Okay, what do I want to do today?  What should I do? My Type A-like personality starts listing all these things I could do to be productive.  But what am I being productive for?  Usually nothing significant.  Busy work or chores that I can do any time.

As I crawl out of my self-made box, I have started to think of new possiblities.  Publish that book.  Travel more.  Start my own small-business on the side.  Mostly I want to learn how to really take care of myself.  I have a tendency to put everyone and everything else first.  I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and I tend at times to fall back on those types of relationships when things become difficult in my life rather than putting energy into the relationships that are good in my life.  I just recreate that which does not work only to be miserable.  Pretty stupid if you ask me.

I need to not worry about what others think and focus on what I know about myself.  Stop letting my own fears, other’s doubts and my own doubts keep me from creating a life that fully makes me happy and fulfilled.  Not a perfect life of course, that will never happen but there are a few areas in my life I need to work on.  I don’t want others to put me in a box so I shouldn’t do it to myself either.  One of my biggest impediments is my own self-doubt and fear.  And some of it is still following old defense and coping mechanisms of my younger years.  These aren’t needed anymore, so I need to leave those behind too.  Drop the chains in that box I’ve kept myself locked away in because it felt “safe”.

When you grow up in an unpredictable and volatile environment, your need to feel safe is paramount.  You will avoid risks and challenges just to keep things on an even keel.  You are afraid to give more of yourself, to open up your heart fully.  Just as a rape victim might keep themselves unconsciously overweight as a protection against people or men taking notice of her, you come up with defense mechanisms.  Then you have to shed the layers and become who you were meant to be rather than living in fear.  Bad things happen and it wasn’t your fault.  It is only until you let go of your coping mechanisms and behaviors that you can really be free.  And it’s a hard lesson to learn.  And even harder to fulfill but not impossible.  

I’ve been on a long journey to overcome much in my past that I never talk about because frankly it doesn’t need rehashing.  Every day is one baby step into a better life for myself.  Every time I set a boundary, say no, or decide maybe that wasn’t good for me is a triumph.  But now I need to start living my life a bit more in the direction I need to go.  To focus my energy on my talents, my hopes and my dreams or at least figure out what some of my new dreams will be.  I am hugely blessed in this life with a supportive husband, three amazing daughters, wonderful friends and family. I

In conclusion, I’ve come a long way baby but I’m not even close to being done yet.  IT’s time to shrug off my self-imposed chains and step out of the box… It’s time to stop being afraid and just do it.  It’s time to really start living.

Less Thinking – More Living

I have to admit it, my mind is continually whirling. Like a hamster hopped up on crack who can’t get off the wheel, my mind spins fever pitch most of the time. Overthinking is a hobby of mine. No, make that a passion. Think, think and then rethink what I just thought and then self-analyze it to death, beat it with a stick, then re-analyze it and then further beat it (or tenderize it as I lovingly refer to my beating a dead horse tendencies) until I can not get one more thing out of the carcass of that thought.

To say I am self-aware is probably an understatement. I have a high emotional IQ or EQ as they refer to it, I think (no pun intended). Which is a good thing until it paralyzes me from living my life. Oh, I love to sit around and think about things, ride my bike and think about things and hike and think about things. Why was I in a bad mood earlier? My friend was a little short with me today- did they have a bad day or did I do something? The dog is looking at me cross-eyed – did I feed him or is he having a bad day or did I do something?

Before I know it, the day is over, it’s time to go to bed as the hamster just keeps running madly until I finally drop off to sleep. Squeak, squeak, squeak -silence. Though I don’t think my mind ever shuts off, it just quiets down and lets me get some rest. And never a deep sleep type of rest – it’s the kind that wakes me up several times of night, it looks at the clock, sighs mightily because there are four more hours until the conscious thoughts can punch the clock and allow the subconscious to rest.

I believe I’m at a point where I need to quit thinking so much and start doing something. For over two years, I have had an idea for a small business on the side in which I design and create functional art in the form of furniture I either upcycle from old things or design and build myself (my woodworking skills are beginner so this would start small) and using my photography to create unique nature-themed and affordable landscape/architectural themed photographs which I mat and/or frame for sale as well as designing and creating hardscape items such as garden arbors, benches, etc. for the yard. For my Entrepreneurship class, I even wrote the business plan for this idea and got a 100% and a note from my instructor that it was a great idea, I should implement it.

So yesterday, our Ohio weather had us sequestered in the house again and I was growing restless. Then I remembered my business idea so but last night, I grabbed one of my many notebooks and started making lists of things I need to do (1. Find where I saved the business plan. 2. Learn more about woodworking 3. Start scouring junk stores for cheap but usable pieces as well as old picture frames, etc.). I can think about starting my own business again or I can actually start taking steps toward creating the business. Just thinking about it, nothing is going to happen and one day I will wake up and think, damn, why didn’t I do that? I had great ideas? Hence, another regret. A little bit like writing, if I don’t actually sit down and work on my novel, it will never get finished much less the daunting prospect of finding a publisher. Baby steps are better than no steps.

So, in saying all that, I decided also I want to focus on more fun – again this focuses on my business idea which uses my love of art, furniture, building things, photography and tapping into my eccentric tastes along with my desire to not be tied down to a storefront. At least a physical one. The marketing possibilities are endless and since this is a side business, I don’t have to worry about replacing my income. Though if I did, that would be a fabulous benefit; however, it is a labor of love and not just focused on the financial outcomes. All my life, I’ve focused on the money, how much money I could make if I did this or worked here or started that business. This time, I’m doing it for love of creating and to have fun and meet new people.

Well, I’ve spent enough time today talking about all of this so now I’m going to go out and start scouring some shops as well as hitting the home improvement stores. I can think while I’m driving but it’s time for action.

Oooh this is exciting!