Monday, June 4, 2012

Growing Into Our Individuality

In my teen years, the years that I like to think of as my philosophical days, I came to understand just how much of a deep thinker I was. And just how intensely I felt about so many things that maybe never crossed the minds of most of my peers.


I wondered about the world and its problems. About life and its purpose. About injustices. Racism. Discrimination. About abuse and ill treatment toward the three most vulnerable groups in our society: animals, children and the elderly. And just about anything else that I read about. Heard about. Learned about. Or ran across.


I wasn’t sure if my friends felt this way, or if they bothered with such profound subjects. Maybe they did contemplate some of the things I did, but there weren’t any signs of them doing so, therefore I kept this side to myself.


Because this was such an intense part of me, I needed an outlet for these deep thoughts and emotions.


So I listened to a lot of music.


Wrote stories.


And poetry. Lots of poetry. Which became a huge part of my teenage years.


Then I began to keep a diary. Where I recorded all my most intimate feelings and thoughts. Day in and day out.


I never shared the existence of my diary with a single soul. Or shared my poetry with anyone. I lived a secret life, a double life if you may. One side of me wanted to just be one of the gang – not philosophical, not sensitive and definitely not different in any way. I wanted to simply fit in. Feel normal. So I played that part by hiding who I truly was, what I truly felt and what I truly wondered about.


The other side of me was the outsider. I was similar in many ways, and yet so different in others. Because although I’d always been reserved, even as a child, I discovered in my teen years, much to my dismay, that there was a side of me that really enjoyed being alone – something that didn’t seem (at the time) normal.


It was during this stage of my life that I was beginning to realize just how much I needed quiet time for concentration. It was during this stage that I was discovering a need for introspection of my thoughts and feelings. And during this stage that I realized that I needed time alone to ‘recharge’.


I was discovering that I was an introvert - although I didn’t have a word for it at the time - and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. There is a lot of social pressure during the teen years to fit in. And because it’s typically an extrovert’s world, I wanted to be more gregarious and less reclusive. More outgoing and less introspective.


But that wasn’t me. No matter how much I wanted it. And I couldn’t even fake it. At least not for very long.


It would take years before I would truly understand who I am. And fully embrace it.


Because it takes time to grow into our traits. And into our individuality.

13 comments:

  1. Wonderful pics!! You really captured her - especially those last two - one of those needs to be framed. I've too felt the pressure to be more outgoing and especially at a young age when everyone judges themselves on how many friends they have. I was a 'best friend' person, who really only needed that one good friend at a time. The rest of the time I was very content on my own or with my family. I often spent a lot of time wandering around outside, just looking at things up close - I still do!

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    1. Thanks, Jane. Eventually I'll go through my photos and print some. I'm even planning to create a couple of photo books, but maybe during the colder months when I'm looking for winter projects to keep me sane...LOL... I was exactly like you; still am. I don't need a huge circle of friends, just good ones. I do the same outdoors as you do -- with camera in hand!

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  2. What a lovely post. I don't know how old you are, Martha but I woner if you have reached that point in mid-life when you find out that you aren't who you thought you were. thought I was 'superfriend' the one everyone could and should come to for kindness and a shoulder to cry on. One day I couldn't be the perfect friend anymore and literally fell apart - didn't know who I was anymore. The transition isn't that hard for everyone, but I guess I'm saying just when you think you are finding out who you are, you find out who you aren't.

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    1. I'm 47, Francie! I'm at that age (mid-life) where I am very comfortable with who I am and don't feel I need to apologize for who I am. Not that I ever did, really, but when you're young there's a lot more pressure to fit in. At my age, I think I've earned the right to be myself -- and be left alone...LOL...

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  3. I see some of these traits in my kids...I have convinced them that yes they are different and all of us are different that is the whole beauty of life! somehow the youngest one translated different into special.

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    1. Being different is special. Sounds like your younger child is on the right track.

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  4. A huge turning point for me came when I was 30 and was introduced to Myers-Briggs personality types. That's when I first learned about introversion and, of course, recognized myself immediately! It was like wizardry.

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    1. Ha ha...yes, just like wizardry. I didn't know about introversion until years later, and when I found out, everything suddenly made sense.

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  5. Stunning photos Martha! I think the teen years are the most difficult if you're introverted, because you're expected to be always on the go with friends, sports,etc. I have just become more introverted as I've gotten older. I enjoy being by myself, but I love my hubby's company. I have a friend who has about 20 "close" friends and it must be exhausting having to keep up all these friendships. I'm happy with my sister to chat to when I feel like it. I enjoy the blogging world though,because it's easier to meet people of a similar outlook!

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    1. Yes, the teen years are quite difficult. You're trying to find out who you are and go from being a child to an adult. There's quite a bit of pressure in that, not to mention all the social pressure involved. I have no problem being on my own. And when I feel like being with friends, I prefer small gatherings, or one on one time, especially if the people I'm with are close to me. And like you, I love my husband's company. He is one of the few people that I can spend a lot of time with without it tiring me out. But then, he's an introvert, too, so that helps. He doesn't drain my energy and I don't drain his.

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  7. Martha, what a beautiful post and what a beautiful soul. I believe it is better to have 1 true friend then 100 acquaintances, and honestly, any teenager who had the chance to be exposed to you should be called lucky. Especially, if they paid attention to the important questions you were asking at such a young age. I also took the Myers-Brihhs personality test when I was in college and I scored way skewed to the introverted side. The important thing is to always be true to yourself. I read this book called Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe Ph.D and it was so enlightening to me. For the first time I felt I didn't have to apologize for who I am.

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    1. That is a sweet comment and I thank you :) I must tell you that I do have my faults! LOL... I do agree that 1 true friend is better than a whole bunch of acquaintances. I never took the personality test you and Debra both took, but I know what the results would be. I will have to see about the book you read. It sounds like it's very interesting.

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