It all started in grade school. I couldn’t figure it out. Why did all the other girls get so giddy over slumber parties?
 
I hated them.
 
Most of the time I would go anyway and pretend to be having fun until I couldn’t stand it any longer. Then I would either retreat to a quiet corner and try to disappear into my sleeping bag with the pillow over my head or I would call my parents to pick me up. Except for that one time when I actually had a panic attack in my friend’s bathroom. While the rest of the little girls were eavesdropping outside the bathroom door, her mom asked me if I was on any kind of medication…
 
Nope. Just a nine year old introvert pretending to be extroverted.
 
But I desperately wanted people to like me so I kept pretending to be like the rest of the world. Once I got a little older alcohol made things easier.
 
Years later I realized something HUGE:
 
At the root of my drinking problem was the conviction that I needed to be different, that I needed to be EXTROVERTED.
 
No problem. A couple drinks in and POOF I was the gregarious, funny, entertaining, attractive girl I had always wanted to be. Miraculously I wanted to be around all the people — by the end of the night I was breakdancing on stage, climbing the rotating Cadillac in the middle of Hard Rock Cafe or stage diving at the Third Eye Blind concert.
 
What makes things harder for all parties is that I pass as extroverted. I am confident, even a bit of a loud mouth some might say. I know how to hold sufficiently pleasant conversations with strangers when I want to. I don’t mind public speaking as long as I don’t have to socialize afterwards and thanks to a lifetime of approval seeking I know the right things to say and do in most common social situations.
 
This frustrates my extroverted friends and family who believe I should want to participate in their book groups or go to their parties or celebrate at the thought of another family reunion.
 
But it is silly for me to expect them to get it. They actually get energized by groups of people talking about price fares to Costa Rico or the last time they had dental work or whether or not, while driving, they turn into the most immediate lane. How can I expect them to understand that I’m not a snob or a hater of humankind or a sociopath? That I do love people but just in smaller doses surrounded by relative quiet where I can engage them in deep, intimate conversations against their will?
 
Once an extroverted family member was innocently trying to make conversation with me and asked if I enjoy to going to concerts. I decided to be honest:
 
“Not really. They’re too loud, too crowded and they go on too late.”
 
She took one look at me, let out an exasperated sigh, raised her eyebrows and walked away.
 
Awkward.
 
Perhaps I am not alone? Perhaps there are others out there like me who prefer garden work over garden parties, who actually prefer shopping alone or would rather read a mediocre book than see and be seen?
 
Since I stopped drinking four years ago, I’ve learned a lot of things about how to be me in an extroverted world.
 
For what it is worth, here is an open letter to other — is anybody out there???? introverts— like me:
 
There is nothing wrong with you. So stop trying to be different. It’s okay to be quiet, to prefer quiet, to go out of your way for quiet. Stop forcing yourself to endure too much stimulus if you don’t have to.
 
If you’re like me and you have loud children, be patient with yourself. It’s hard. You may be tempted to get through it with a good buzz on. The more you do that mama, the less coping skills you learn to help you get through your life like the emotionally mature adult you want to be.
 
You can do hard things. You can do overwhelm, anxiety, fear, embarrassment, shame and anger. These are feelings and even though they hurt, they’re not trying to hurt you, they are trying to get your attention — to teach you things about yourself.
 
If you keep using alcohol or other drugs to be someone else, you will forget who you are (if you haven’t already). When you stop using booze or other drugs it will be hard at first because you will have to face a truth: You are not who you *think* you should be.
 
Say goodbye to the person you think you should be and look in the mirror. Say hello to yourself.
 
Accept it. Start now. Give yourself permission to be you. If you have forgotten who you are, don’t worry. You can get to know yourself now because you aren’t trying to escape yourself.
 
Eventually you will understand that accepting yourself is what real freedom feels like.
 
You will disappoint people. Some of your “friends” may even complain about how boring you have become. These may not be true friends.
 
Say no. If you don’t want to go, don’t. Be willing to disappoint them. When you say yes to them because you don’t want to let them down, you are trying to control their emotional response to you. This comes from a place of fear. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with you. You can’t control other people’s emotions anyway.
 
The cultural wisdom that you have to show up for your friends of family is bullshit if you can’t show up for yourself first. If they get mad at you, don’t get mad back. After all you have, up to this point, taught them what to expect from you and how to treat you by how you respond and what you have been willing to tolerate.
 
Things will change. Your relationship will stabilize. New ones will come that blow the old ones away.
 
Be patient. Extroverted people don’t often get it. You might try to explain to them. Some will actually understand. Let yourself be pleasantly surprised by these people.
 
You are who you are and how you are for a very important reason. Make peace with it and trust that it will reveal itself to you.
 
xoxo
-a

{ 16 comments }

14,000 Things

by Amy on May 12, 2017

Yesterday Ron’s sister would have been forty years old. She was killed in a car accident when she was 21.

I happened to be talking to a friend yesterday who has brain cancer. The meds are hard on her. “But you know what,” she said to me, “I am so happy to be alive. I can’t believe all the things I took for granted.”

Years ago I lived in Seattle with Ron. We had this beautiful apartment blocks away from Lake Union, walking distance from restaurants, bakeries and wine shops.

There was a grocery store at the edge of the lake that sold fancy things like wine and cheese. You could buy a picnic and eat it at a picnic table next to the lake, watching the planes land on the water as the sun sets.

In the two years we lived there we never did. Not once.

Because back then all I could see was lack. I didn’t like my apartment because it didn’t have the right furniture. I didn’t like Seattle because it was too crowded. I didn’t like myself because I believed I hadn’t accomplished anything in my life. I didn’t like my husband because I believed he was keeping me from accomplishing these things.

I was so lost in this story of lack that lack was all there was for me to see and so lack was my reality.
When we went through my sister in law’s things after she died, we found a book called 10,000 Things to be Happy About. Inside she had gone through the entire book and highlighted her favorite things.

The. Entire. Book.

She highlighted…
“Singing your favorite music,
doing your own thing,
horoscopes,
living each day for itself,
soaking up extra memories…”

Now I have the same book. The title has been updated to “14,000 Things to be Happy About.” I keep it on the coffee table in the family room with a set of highlighter pens on top so anyone can go through it and highlight their favorite parts.

If you come over, you’ll find it there. I hope you add your highlights.

What are you happy about today? Right now…

Stop.

Take a look around you.

Notice.

Today I am bursting with gratitude that I stopped looking for lack in my life. That, like Angela, I am aware of the absolute abundance of beauty around me that comes in so many shapes and forms.
When you look for happy that is your reality.

When you look for lack that is your reality.

It is your choice.

Which do you choose today?

Happy birthday Angela.

You will always inspire me.

{ 4 comments }

When the doer cannot do

April 14, 2017

It’s Thursday. I have had the flu all week. And today I learned I have a bladder infection too. Bonus! I cancelled a tennis match, a podcast interview, three tennis lessons (two for me and one for my kids), missed an entire week of jiujitsu because I couldn’t drive the kids, skipped the Facebook Live […]

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God, Source, Spirit, The Angels, The Muses…

April 6, 2017

I am driving down Broadway Boulevard. It is Summer 2008. The twins are about six months old. Looking through the rearview window, I see them strapped into their car seats. As usual, Anthony is not happy. He is doing that thing he does before an all out crying fit. Alice is looking at me. Her […]

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Show Me A Successful Entrepreneur

March 10, 2017

Show me a successful entrepreneur in the service industry and I’ll show you a person who loves themselves enough, loves the work enough to let themselves fail. Somebody who is willing to get out there despite the possibility of bad hair, typos, toilet paper on the shoe, awkward exchanges (Them: Nice to meet you. You: […]

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How to be a Winner

March 2, 2017

Last week I beat a really good tennis player. In straight sets. 6-2, 6-2. If you don’t know tennis, I pretty much kicked her butt. “Wow, my back was really bothering me today.” This is all she had to say after the match. I lost to her a few months ago so I’m pretty sure […]

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Be here, now

February 24, 2017

A few nights ago, my husband said something mildly stupid that hurt my feelings. I am as soft-bellied as they come. I get my feelings hurt with an astonishing frequency. It is one of the many downsides of having a moon in Scorpio. Anyway…We were in bed, my back turned against him. I was convinced […]

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Stop Expecting Them to “Get” It: Why Some Partnerships Fail

February 9, 2017

“What’s on the agenda this weekend?” My husband asks. I open up my planner. “Battle of the books in the early afternoon Saturday, then Jazmina’s Quinciniera in the eve. Then Sunday is Janina’s birthday party at the pool.” “I’m not going to that,” He says. “But…” I answer. “I work all week and I don’t […]

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How to Think When You’re Overwhelmed

February 2, 2017

  I figured out the main theme of my book. This is the theme that informs everything. It’s the big “So What?” of the book. I was talking to my friend about it the other day. She asked me if I knew the theme when I started writing. “I haven’t wanted to start my book,” […]

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Saint Ron: Why the Truth Hurts (If You Let It)

January 27, 2017

“You should be canonized for putting up with her all these years.” This was a comment made about me to my husband. The same person I blocked to escape his poisonous text messages found a way to get to me through my husband. I won’t lie. When I heard that he said this about me […]

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5 Survival Tips When You #$%^& Up

January 20, 2017

I was recently invited to play on a bad-ass women’s tennis team. Wanting to make a good impression, I volunteered right away to practice doubles with a group of women. Got a babysitter and everything. On the night of practice, I got to the tennis club ten minutes early. Nobody there… “Strange,” I thought as […]

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Setting Boundaries with Setting Boundaries

January 12, 2017

For a long time my dream was to create a successful six figure, and then multiple six figure, coaching practice. After achieving the $200,000 a year mark I considered going for $500,000 a year. I created the business plan, I had the team in place, but I never made it. “Being an entrepreneur is the most lucrative […]

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We March

November 1, 2016

She is in a dark room, there is music on the other side of the door, and voices. She is crying and afraid. She doesn’t like being in here in the dark, alone. But no one hears her crying. Then the door opens and a man looks in. She can see the outline of his […]

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The Adult Brain of a Bullied Kid

October 6, 2016

We were on a bus, heading into Portland for a field trip. It was going to be a great day. We were going to try sushi for the first time and see China town. I was in seventh grade. Sitting on the bus, the girl next to me was leaning up against the window talking across […]

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35 Excuses Keeping You From Being Happy

July 27, 2016

No excuses. Just happy. My mom used to call me a “malcontent.” I hated it when she called me that. But now I see that she was right. I always had a reason why I couldn’t be happy. Here are a few excuses I used to make that kept me from being happy. Chances are […]

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You are five.

February 25, 2015

Who were you when you were five? When I was five… I loved flowers — I vividly remember the plants from my childhood – the sunflowers in my backyard, the rose bushes by the patio, the filbert orchards and the Oregon grapes with berries you couldn’t really eat. I loved to swim – that feeling […]

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Are You an Amazing Coach?

April 12, 2017

But so far you haven’t been able to figure out how to make a business out of it? Thank you to all of those who participated in the contest. Congratulations to Alicia J! Win a Scholarship to “Monetize Your Magic” (a $997 Value) The “Do it Yourself” version of my hands on, courage building success […]

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Thank you

February 17, 2017

Today I just want to thank for listening. Over the years I have spilled a lot of beans. It all started seven years ago when I told you I slapped my husband in the face with a sponge. Then, I told you another unflattering truth: I slept with my husband the day I met him. […]

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