How Do You Solve a Problem Like an Introvert?

Dear Soph-
Your dad and I went out for a “date night” recently. We went to dinner and then decided to walk a bit before heading home. There was a Barnes and Noble bookstore nearby so…that’s where we decided to walk.

I tell ya, kid, I was in heaven. I’d forgotten how much I love bookstores. I could spend hours in a bookstore.

It brought me back to high school and college when I used to go with my friends…all. the. time. We would wander for a bit, pick out some books or magazines that interested us and then sit in the café area engrossed in our finds. It’s where I was first introduced to Chai tea…a delicious drink that tastes, as my friends and I declared, like “Fall in a cup.”

I mentioned that to your dad as we walked back to the car. How I used to spend hours in the nearby Borders Books.

“By yourself?” he asked, laughing the way he does when he points out how nerdy I can be.

“Not all the time.” I responded, a bit defensively “I went with friends, too.”

But the more I thought about it, I realized there were PLENTY of times that I was by myself.

I love to be myself. Not all the time, of course. But I do need – and thoroughly enjoy – some occasional alone time. Oh what I could do with a free day all to myself. I’m giddy just thinking about it.

You see, kid, I’m an introvert.

It’s become quite the trend nowadays to declare your affinity for this particular camp. Cries of “I’m not weird, I’m an introvert” can be heard from Facebook to Twitter, emblazoned on mugs and t-shirts. May be a bit overkill for some people, but I understand the urge to join the charge. For the longest time, I thought I was just weird (ok, ok…I am weird). But to know I’m not alone in my personality quirks and my preferences for social interaction (or lack thereof) is, admittedly, comforting.

My unique personality and take on life make your dad chuckle and shake his head almost daily. Things like:

Why call Customer Service when you can email or instant message your question?

Why answer the door when you can stealthily travel from window to window until you can see what kind of car is in the driveway and then make a more informed decision about who could possibly be ringing your doorbell at 10:30 in the morning on a Wednesday?

Your dad is a tried and true extravert. He loves being around people and he can talk to anyone. The thought of a free Saturday night spent at home watching a movie just doesn’t float his boat. He is completely at home in a large group of people – even if he doesn’t know anyone.

I, on the other hand, cringe at the thought of having to make small talk with new people I meet. I don’t know how to do it. It comes naturally to your dad. It does not come naturally to me. I’m either consumed with trying to come up with a topic of conversation, mentally critiquing whatever just came out of my mouth, or trying to find a way to exit the conversation in a logical, not-awkward-or-out-the-blue way.

But that’s ok.

I think it’s one of the reasons your dad and I are a good match. It’s one of the many ways we balance each other out. And he’s really helped get me out of my shell now and then.

But I’m far from a hermit, so please don’t get me wrong here. I’ve just always been a little slower to warm up to people and I don’t let just anyone in my bubble. It can be harder for me to “put myself out there,” as they say, but I still do it. Remind me to tell you some stories about my (laughable) attempt at pledging a sorority in college.

It’s really only when I’m truly comfortable with someone that I open up. It’s just the way I am.

And that’s ok.

Unfortunately, I spent some of my years thinking there was something wrong with me. Growing up I often felt awkward about my personality. Like it was a problem to be fixed.

I realize now that it’s not a problem. It never was. It’s just me.

And I want you to think the same way about yourself.

Whether you smile brightly at people on the train, open and eager to make conversation with potential new friends around you…or you put your laptop bag next to you on the seat, ear buds firmly inserted, to ensure you sit by yourself.

Whether your idea of a great Saturday night is in the middle of the dance floor at the most popular place in town…or at home on your couch under a blanket with freshly painted fingernails, a stack of magazines next to you and Everybody Loves Raymond reruns on TV.

Whether your circle of friends is so large that you can’t name them all…or you can count them on one hand (and they’ve become like sisters to you – ladies, you know who you are).

Whatever your personality…please know, that it’s ok. It’s better than ok. It’s great. Because it’s you. And you are amazing. Outgoing extravert or reserved introvert. Or maybe you’ll be something in between. Embrace it. Try to stretch out of your comfort zone now and again. But embrace it.

Love, Mom

 

On the Subject of Dating…

IMG_2342
Dear Soph-
While running an errand on my lunch break today, I was stopped at a stop light when a group of high school kids walked by (apparently they get half days every other Wednesday…who knew). There were six of them…three boys and three girls…all paired off like they were marching towards an ark. The couple leading the pack walked hand in hand. He chomped on some gum like a baby calf while she gazed adoringly up at him.

Normally, I wouldn’t give much thought to this, but I was so distracted by what this kid was wearing. Gray sweatpants. And no shirt.

I instantly assumed the poor boy had fallen, hit his head, and woke up confused thinking he was Mark Wahlburg circa 1991. That was the only logical explanation I could think of for him looking like a complete douche. But upon closer inspection of his mediocre attempt at swagger, I realized this look was intentional.

Where was this young man’s shirt? I thought to myself…suddenly concerned that his Justin Bieber physique looked chilly.

And that’s when I noticed his girlfriend. Hanging onto his hand and struggling to keep up. Why was she struggling to keep up, you ask? Because she was carrying both of their book-laden backpacks.

And his shirt.

At this point they were walking past my car and the young man looked directly at me. I made a huge deal of rolling my eyes at him – like the judgmental old person I’ve become. And I couldn’t help but feel sorry for his girlfriend. She probably thinks she’s happy. She probably tells herself she doesn’t mind toting his crap around like a pack mule. But I refuse to believe that. Now, I could certainly be wrong here, but just this snapshot in time told me this was a one-sided relationship.

I immediately thought of you. I would never want that to be you.

I have a lot of advice on the subject of boys and dating that I will share at the appropriate time, but after witnessing this spectacle, I felt compelled to say the following:

Number one… Don’t date someone who thinks it’s acceptable to walk around in public with his nipples hanging out.

Number two… Don’t EVER be with someone who treats you like his own personal butler. You carry NO MAN’s backpack. And certainly no man’s shirt.

Respect yourself first. Respect whomever you date. And demand respect in return.

Love, Mom

Oh the Places You’ll Go…

IMG_1775
Dear Soph-
At some point in your life – most likely during high school – you will start to give serious thought to what you want to do and where you want to be when you grow up. You may head in one direction with certain ideas and aspirations for where you’ll end up – and you may stick with those aspirations. Or, like me, you may discover a year or two down the road that your goals and dreams have changed. And that’s ok.

When it came time for me to apply to colleges and start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life, I thought I had a solid plan. I loved music. I loved to sing. I was accepted to a music school with a hefty vocal scholarship. Seemed like a no brainer. But shortly after I started my freshman year I changed my mind. It wasn’t an easy decision…I love to sing, I just didn’t want it to be my career. Once I decided to change my major, my college career went as follows:

I went from being a music major with a sizable scholarship to an English major with no scholarship. I then decided to switch schools completely and declared that I could not live my life in a cubicle, so I became a film major. For one semester. During which time I discovered that having an appreciation for watching movies did not at all equate to possessing a true passion for creating them. So I changed my major (for the fourth and final time) to Marketing and Advertising. I now sit in a cubicle. But I have to say, kid, I could not be happier.

My point in this history lesson is this: you may take many different paths throughout your life. Or you may find one path that suits you and follow it to the end. Whatever direction you head, it’s ok.

Don’t ever feel like you are out of options. Your options are endless. Don’t ever feel like the decision is out of your control. It’s never too late to change your mind and change course. And please know I say this with more than just college and career in mind.

As you find your way, your father and I will always be here for you. Although I may find it a bit more challenging to avoid “helicoptoring” than your dad. One of the best gifts my parents gave me was their trust and confidence in my life decisions. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for them to stand by and watch as I flip-flopped my way through two colleges and four majors. And while they did question me along the way, they never told me I was wrong. They knew I would find happiness and success in life, however winding my journey may have been.

I promise to have the same trust and confidence in you.

I have never once regretted the decisions I made. Because I know that had I stayed where I was, I would not be where I am today. And I love where I am today. I may never perform for millions (although who knows what life will bring), but I am perfectly happy performing for one. Especially one who seems to appreciate Billie Holiday and the Rat Pack as much as I do.

You may look exactly like daddy, but I think you got your mom’s old soul.

Love, Mom

i-may-not-have-gone-where-i-intended-to-go-but-i-think-i-have-ended-up-where-i-needed-to-be-quote-1