Category Archives: friends

True or False: Introvert edition

My husband busts on me a little bit about being introverted, but mostly because he, like many people, doesn’t quite understand what introversion is and isn’t. I can’t blame anybody for that, because I didn’t quite get it myself until I was in my mid-20s.

When I take personality tests, I rate right down the middle between introvert and extrovert. I suppose I’m an outgoing introvert. For people who don’t really get what “introvert” means, an “outgoing introvert” must sound like a contradiction, which is the first FALSE I can think of. Being an introvert means that I recharge my battery being alone, or being alone with one person who I’m close enough to that we can either talk or not talk and feel comfortable. I can even recharge with a group of people like my close family or very close friends. Once I had breakfast at a busy restaurant with four friends and felt utterly rejuvenated: At the time I said to my friends that being with them felt like coming home.

I read an interesting article tonight about ways to love an introvert. I agree with a lot of it and would call those points true, but first I have to pick apart what I think is false. I mean, the second sentence is complete rubbish:

Where extroverts are social creatures, introverts are most certainly not.

The author wrote a sloppy introduction to an otherwise pretty spot-on article, and if I were his editor I would have red-flagged this and asked for clarification. Saying that extroverts are social and introverts are “most certainly not” is essentially saying that introverts are anti-social. FALSE. I am most certainly social and introverted. In some situations, I feel socially awkward, mostly because these days I worry about not meeting my husband’s expectations. I genuinely enjoy getting to know people; I’m very interested in knowing more about my people. One TRUE thing about the Lifehacker article, in which the author totally contradicts his statement I’ve quoted above is:

If you label introverts as [shy or anti-social], then you obviously don’t understand them …. Most introverts love to meet people. It’s just that while extroverts enjoy small talk, introverts would rather discuss deeper issues in a more intimate setting.

Last weekend, we went to a party … actually we went to two parties in a row! At the first party, I knew exactly four people — the hostess-slash-guest of honor, her husband, my husband, and a guy I’ve met once. At one point, the three guys took off to do something manly or carry heavy things, and I was left alone at a table with a youngster. She was pretty clearly feeling awkward, and I was sitting there telling myself, “You’re the adult, start talking to this kid! Why don’t you know what to say to her? It’s your responsibility to put this girl at ease. What should you say?? Think, think, think … how do you break the ice with an 8-year-old you’ve just met?” Eventually, I had the idea to bring up the universal topic of food! That broke the ice and we were soon friends, but those few minutes have lingered in my mind. With that in mind, I think the following is mostly TRUE:

Don’t leave them hanging at a social event.

Writing this has helped me realize so much about how I need to communicate with my husband! Yay! And I happily call one last point from the article very TRUE:

Explain how you perceive the world differently …. Introverts love to listen, so why don’t you tell us all about it? We would both benefit if we learned from each other.

At the party last weekend, the husband-of-honor told me that he holds back around me because I’m an introvert. FALSE. I’m not scared of people or different personalities or extroverts. I process internally, and perhaps to some slowly, but I still want to know you.

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WHAT UP 2015!?!?

I’m doing it: 2014 retrospective! Sorry so sappy, but my blog is nothing but trying to reinforce lessons I’ve learned, process life, and sort my thoughts. Meanwhile, a bit of a show I’m re- re- re- re- re-watching on Netflix struck me as a great theme for the thoughts of last year and aspirations for next! From an episode of Gilmore Girls:

Lorelai: Wait, wait. Look around for a second. Notice?
Rory: Notice what?
Lorelai: It’s not so scary anymore.
Rory: No, it’s not.

Pretty much everything I’ve ever been anxious about worth being anxious about includes that moment of realization that “this isn’t so scary anymore.”

In chronological order of things to be scared of this year:

  • I left a great job for another great job. A few months later, I was laid off.
  • I got engaged!
  • I planned a wedding! Although it wasn’t perfect, it was a blast. I have family and friends who made everything happen, and I love those folks overwhelmingly.
  • I got married!
  • I have an exciting career opportunity!

I wrote a little bit about my wedding, but that was a combination of trying to edit my disappointment while emphasizing the most positive parts. Meanwhile, our experiences and memories were a little different.

I met some fantastic people this year. People who I’ve known and loved had gone above and beyond for me. My husband is a rock star, in more ways than one. 2014 was good for us, but I am convinced 2015 will be much better!

Unconventional newlyweds

A few weeks before my wedding, my mom asked me if Bible verses I memorized when I was young came back to me when I needed them. My answer is resoundingly, yes. Specifically, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.” Bible verses come to my mind all the time, and more when I need them. As my wedding day neared, that verse has stuck with me, and it has also come to mind during many times of major life changes.

I don’t know which came first — my need to treasure and ponder, or the Biblical justification that such a need exists. Either way, I tend to treasure and ponder. I haven’t been able to articulate how that tendency parlays into another ability I have, and I wish I could. I’ve been interviewing for new professional opportunities, and a side effect of all this professional soul searching is a renewed discovery in my innate skill to appreciate the big picture without losing my commitment to the smallest detail. Somehow, this ability and personal penchant are two sides of the same strength in my mind.

I got married almost two weeks ago. Wedding planning was another great way to blend my professional penchant for the process of executing a big picture. I love the big picture, but I love making it all happen. As time ticked down, I surrendered my responsibility to execute every little detail, and I’m so happy with the results. I did commit to the details that were crucial to me, and I had those experiences. Those are the important moments that I treasure and will forever ponder.

One moment I really wanted was with my dad and my sister. When Jeff and I got engaged I remember specific snapshots of my heart. I have those precious memories mentally frozen that made the event special. The first snapshot of my heart on my wedding day is first when my dad saw me in my dress. He’s a charmer! But just before my sister queued up to walk down the aisle, she tossed a look to me and dad over her shoulder and gave us a wink and a smile. That’s EXACTLY why I wanted my sister to be with me and Dad until we took our turn down the aisle.

I should probably verbalize to my sister how important she is to me, huh? I’ve heard of “Daddy’s girl” (yes, I am), and “Mama’s girl” (and I’m that, too), but I’m also a “sister’s girl.” My sister’s a bad ass.

For the record, I have sisters by another mother. They are bad ass, too. Getting married rocked my world way beyond the husband part. I love my husband, but I’m joyously overwhelmed by the other sister elements.

I have small, tiny regrets about our wedding day that I forgot or discarded for the sake of prioritization on the day. We forgot things that we never even missed, but the instances when a well paid vendor failed to deliver have plagued me. Those miscommunications have eaten away at me more than I anticipated. Some other troubles that I anticipated came to pass, and I wasn’t able to adequately articulate a solution during the day, and unfortunately that stressed other people who I didn’t want to stress.

Those minor regrets, which I take full responsibility for, have plagued me in the last few days. They began to outweigh the many precious moments from my wedding that I treasure and ponder. I’ve had dreams since the wedding in which I both did and didn’t confront the vendors. I’ve had dreams since the wedding in which guests confront me about these minor regrets. Because my husband left town for work two days after our wedding, I’ve had “Phantom Jeff” dreams that he was home and moving around or talking to me. Although my dreams are crazy with a side of nuts, I miss my mister more than I thought possible.

Acknowledging all that, my husband is home and my wedding was FABULOUS! Jeff woke up a few minutes ago and asked me how I was awake. I said goodnight, and that I’m awake because I’m writing. Once more for the record, my sister and brother-in-law are the best there are.

Why I write

“I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of. ”

― Joss Whedon

I write for an audience of one: Me. OK, professionally, I write for the audience that I’m paid to write for, but the most rewarding stuff to write is my own blog. If anything I write encourages, edifies, or blesses you, I’m blessed to be a blessing. But I write for and about my own edification. It gives me strength. It helps me explore what I’m afraid of. It helps me articulate thoughts and feelings to myself. I’m best served by being honest with myself, and writing helps me do that.

These days, I’m writing to help me explore all the things I’m afraid of, and hopefully, to give myself strength! Also, I’m slightly hoping that Hogwarts will finally get wind of me and send me an owl with registration information.

I’ve been writing about change a lot lately. So much change! I’m moving. I’m starting a really exciting new job and leaving a job I really love. In the romance department, I think it’s fair to say some changes are coming. According to a report from my Pookie, my hand has been formally requested in marriage. That’s a pretty big change, right?! Also, I’m moving.

I’m tired just writing about it.

I had a big philosophical post in mind with an analogy that explains my recent career journey, but I was lucky enough to talk it through with my Mister, and I feel pretty okay about it without writing about. For now.

At the end of the day, the voice in my head is my college roommate’s: She told me not to believe the lies I tell myself. These lies are ones that other people — who don’t know me — have told me that I eventually accepted. A great career lesson is to explain your experience and clearly identify the career you want. Taking a job because you like the people isn’t enough. The greatest opportunity for success is when your employer knows your experience and expertise, and you know what your employer wants and needs.

Change is so scary for me that even writing about it has been terrifying. But I must write. I publish a small fraction of what I write, but in my recent experience, I write to give myself strength.

EDIT: I cancelled an upcoming face-to-face interview for Monday. When an employer doesn’t have a clear idea of what they want to hire, you don’t have a clear path to success.

Blessings and other things

Friends Are Blessings

I read something today about how in any relationship, contempt for the other person’s emotions is a killer. That resonated with me on about a thousands levels. Sadly, I realize that contempt — on my part and on the part of others — has ruined relationships in my life.

My sarcasm comes across as contempt sometimes, which is mostly not my intention. Let’s define the “mostly” exception for Future Ashley: I’m annoyed by rude people I don’t know who randomly opine on my business, drivers who jack with me because I honk at them for cutting me off, unsupervised kids whose parents ignore them while they climb all over me, and people who are just plain mean. I go from zero to contempt for those people in four seconds flat. Those folks get my contempt. But, if we otherwise have a relationship? My sarcasm is simply an attempt to be humorous and no contempt or intent to wound is intended. Seriously.

In the last three weeks I’ve had three conversations with friends that amount to various levels of “good friends can always pick up where we left off.”  I’m extremely grateful for these friendships, although the timing of these conversations shines a very bright light on other relationships.

I had dinner a couple nights ago with my college roommate. I love this woman like she was my sister. I tell her ALL OF IT — she is as honest with me as anyone can be. I am grateful as all get-out for her feedback and honesty. She continues to change my life in the most positive ways.

Another friend from college, who I really respect professionally and adore personally also reminded me that we will always pick up where we left off. I’m so grateful for these friends!

Family Are Blessings

I am blessed with family and a boyfriend who loves me. Tonight I am wrapping Christmas gifts, and it turns out that I’m not as far behind with Christmas as I thought! Well, -ish.

My sister and I have super Sister Powers. We have our own language, we have a psychic bond, but mostly we are great friends. Because of some other wack-a-doo friend issues (see above: friend is in contempt of my feelings), I’m off my game. But I’m back on track!

I will spend Christmas Eve with my boyfriend and my sister, as I have done for many years (the sister part, not so much the boyfriend-having part). I love being there. I love the memories. I’m so glad my sister’s family are local, and I love having Christmas with them. This year, I get to have Christmas with them and my boyfriend! I’m excited.

We will have an amazing Christmas with our parents, and I can’t wait!

Learn to Ask for Help for Fun and Profit

The trouble with asking for help is … is what, exactly? I’m trying to figure that out for myself. I think I’m allowing conflict around this issue where there need not be. Yesterday, three people told me four times that I need to ask for help with my move this weekend. This morning I kept mulling over everything I’d heard. The realizations have continued to unfold all day, even as recently as writing the first sentence of this post!

As soon I had one of my realizations today, I asked a friend to help me pack tonight. Wow. I bought us dinner, and then she rocked some boxes!!!! She was the perfect yin to my yang: I’m methodical, thoughtful, and evaluating my emotional attachment to everything I pack, and she was BLAZING FAST. I had two goals when I asked her to help me tonight. She single-handedly knocked them both out while I tried to keep up!

So what if I threw up my lunch because I had a coughing fit?!? So what if one of my clients thought I sounded so bad that he rescheduled his call with me?!? We got so much done tonight that I’m ecstatic. I’m not comfortable asking for help. I would always rather be the helper than the helpee, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Trust is crucial when asking for help. It boils down to trust. For example, I’m not happy about having to ask my parents for help, but I trust that they won’t judge me and will try to help me.

Reaping the rewards of the gift of help is an amazing experience. Try it! I’d be happy to help!

True fact: Random acts of kindness make a difference

I started brooding yesterday morning. I woke up before my alarm, so I started working myself into a good, day-long dark spell well before 5 a.m. But something pretty small turned it around for me.

I stayed home from work to nurse a cold Monday, knowing that getting sick was my body’s way of telling me to slow down, calm down, and go with the flow while facing a lot of change. Going back to work yesterday morning, I expected to play catch-up all day, which only added to my cloudy disposition. But seeing me in the hallway as she arrived at the office, a coworker ran up to me and hugged me because she missed me and was worried about me yesterday.

That small display of affection spoke volumes to me. That random act of kindness turned my mindset around. I’m sure that gesture meant a little something to her, but she changed my whole day. Or more! She probably changed my whole week. And writing it down for Future Ashley means that her one kind act will resonate with me indefinately.

I was brooding about why I’ve closed myself off. I’m so quick to fall in love, but so slow to trust anyone who doesn’t share my DNA. As I was putting on my shoes this morning, I remember praying, “I have no hope, God. No hope.”

God’s answer was to put not one, but two people right in my face who unselfishly encouraged and supported me without hesitation.

And today, two more people offered encouragement and support to me unbidden and out of the blue.

Four random acts of kindness later, I feel hope. My gratitude and love for these four angels is actually kind of overwhelming.

Dear me

Dear Me is a moving collection of letters written by people of note to their 16-year-old selves. The website allows anyone to submit letters to their younger selves. When I read Seth Green’s ‘Dear Me,’ it brought tears to my eyes. And I, being the sentimental writer-type that I am, started wondering what I would write to myself that would be of use to other 16-year-olds.

I figure that I could write an awesome letter to me at 16 because I still have journals dating back to the Hello Kitty diary I started in the fourth grade. I could answer all of my own questions! But after much thought, I realized that at 16, a crucial issue I faced was the beginning of my lifelong infatuation with love. A lot of 16-year-olds probably share the same obsession with love — because they don’t have it in their lives, because they’re isolated or bullied, because they’re prone to negative thinking — and they need it desperately.

Friday I composed a mental draft of a letter to my younger self, and I got to the point of telling myself to be a little less in love with the idea of being in love, and to pay a little more attention to the object of my affection. (Sadly, lately, has been a literal object.)

Then, two conversations I had this weekend shed more light on this for me.

The first conversation was this weekend. A friend came up for a visit and to go to a Halloween party with me. Saturday we planned to have lunch, see an afternoon movie, pick a couple of things up at the store, and then have plenty of time to get ready for the party in our Halloween costumes. Instead, we had a marathon lunch — what my friend dubbed our “seven-hour lunch” — talking about everything, bouncing from one topic to another. She has a lot of insight for a lot of reasons. One, she’s awesome. Two, we are a lot alike. Three, she has never been afraid to tell me the honest truth as she sees it. During our seven-hour lunch and following errands, we discussed (among many other things) my love of falling in love.

Second, a brief conversation with the object of my 16-year-old self’s affection reminded me of this lesson: Many times I’ve been in love with falling in love, and now I see that two often I’ve failed to stop and look at the person I’m “in love with.”

Falling in love usually leads to trouble for me. I don’t think I even have a type other than, “I can fix you!” And that’s not reflective at all upon the objects of my affection — they don’t need fixing. Well, other than the fixing that we all need. My trouble is a combination of my vanity that I can fix you, and my arrogence that I’m better than all the others who have come before me. In the thick of it, I will make the obect of my affection perfect for me.

Lessons (re)learned

Looking at an old blog post rung a mental bell, because I had a conversation with someone this week about my independence. My friend said: “Being independent is OK, but someone having your back when you need it can be a good thing.” I tried to teach myself this lesson years ago. I wrote about it in a blog post I published in early 2006 …

Lesson 3: Asking for help is OK. People care.

… but, other than my immediate family, I’m not good or comfortable asking for help or relying on others to help me.

And here’s why: What if the person I finally allow myself to depend on for help is the same person who I know is unreliable based on the things they have told me about themselves?!

And that leads me right into my next lesson: How many times do I have to write about my experiences about believing what people tell me about themselves?! Probably the same number of people I ever meet.

From the the aforementioned 2006 blog post …

Lesson 1: When someone tells you something about themselves, believe them. For example, that guy you’re dating who says he doesn’t believe in marriage? Will never marry you. That coworker who tells you she’s crazy? Is crazy. Listen to what people tell you about themselves.

… although I have handwritten journal entries chastising myself over this topic that go back to, I don’t know, probably the fifth grade. But I only realize that now — thanks to 20/20 hindsight, the wisdom gained from being 30-smrpherly years old, a couple of psychology courses, and clocking some time with my own therapists. Now I can see that I’ve been struggling with the same couple of issues my whole life.

One of the many books I’ve read about forgiveness made the argument for acceptance. The author suggested that as a mental exercise, you pretend that before you were born your spirit and whoever else’s spirit agreed to be born on earth and share your conflict. It’s a tough concept to swallow, but when I was going through a particularly challenging conflict with a person, walking through that exercise turned my thinking up-side down! It forced me to drop my guard and take responsibility for my part in the conflict.

Forgiving someone else is really giving myself the gift of freedom. In conflict, no matter how justified I feel or right I know I am, the only way to get it sorted is to take responsibility for myself. And frankly, that’s probably true about so many things in life.

For Monica

Nurse-santana

I tried to get this to look something like a Glee promo. The handwriting font is not right. And it’s always black in the “gleeK” promos. But for a relatively quick first pass, I like where we’re going.