On Growth and Pain and Being Open

The thing about growth is that’s it’s fucking painful.

If you’re trying to grow and aren’t feeling some sort of ache or pain in the pit of your stomach (or wherever your internal hurt manifests), you’re probably not doing it right.

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately because I’ve been focusing on experiencing and processing my world and the changes happening in and around me. My mind has been overwhelmed with a lot of internal and external stimuli, and I haven’t really been interested in sharing my thoughts with the world. I’ve been journaling a lot to help with processing, but that writing is mostly incoherent and messy.

I’m finding that I really miss sharing my internal growth experiences with the blogosphere, though. As an introvert who (generally speaking) writes better than she speaks, and who has a tendency to get lost in her head, I love the conversations that I can spark up in the blogosphere. I also appreciate the way I can find commonalities in my thought processes with other bloggers. I all too easily forget that feelings are universal and that everyone has gone through tough times, and exchanging stories helps me remember that. I suppose that’s why I read fiction, too (as opposed to non-fiction). Through stories, we can find the universality of the human condition–and that is both awe-inspiring and comforting.

Anywho, I’ve been experiencing a lot of internal growth lately, but I also feel like I have very few outlets for expressing that growth.

When I look back on old blog posts, I used to be incredibly open about my feelings and experiences (perhaps too open at times). I think people admired that about my writing, but I didn’t think twice about it–to me, being open was natural. I’m the type of person that needs to write or talk through my feelings and experiences to fully understand them. As an INFJ personality type, my introverted intuition and extraverted feeling make me really good at understanding other people–but I often find myself so caught up in figuring out what makes other people tick, that I forget to pay attention to myself. It’s why two of the major realizations I’ve had in the past year came from conversations with other people. I realized I was unhappy in Thailand because a friend explicitly pointed that out to me. I realized I wanted to actually pursue teaching as a career in a conversation when a teaching opportunity was suggested to me.

So I write it out, I talk it out, and I usually learn something in the process.

The thing is, I’ve been actively refraining from doing these therapeutic excercise because I’ve found myself in situations in the past year where my openness wasn’t received well. In some of these situations, I would say that I jumped the gun in opening up to a person–mostly because I had been so self-absorbed that I failed to realize my relationship with the other person wasn’t at a level where they were comfortable with such forthright sharing. While these situations definitely allowed me to consider whether what I’m saying to others is mutually beneficial and worth  both of our while (in other words, major learning experiences), they have still left me feeling a bit cynical about the whole process of opening up. I’ve been wondering lately–why bother with these exercises when people don’t seem to care? This mentality has spread itself to the blogosphere, where I’ve remained pretty silent about my personal life in the last few months; in other words, I unconsciously translated a few negative interactions that I had with people into a “whole world” mentality. As in: “Because a few people didn’t receive my openness well in the last year and left me feel slighted, that obviously means the whole world is going to receive my openness the same way and continue to leave me feel slighted.”

Of course, that’s not true, and such a mentality is a bit self-absorbed in its own right. That said, the human psyche is a powerful thing, and we all too often develop negative mentalities without thinking. There are nearly eight billion people in this world, and there are surely people out there who find my story valuable.

I see the process of opening up–whether through writing or in person–as a mutually beneficial experience. Talking through experiences, thoughts, and emotions with others is extremely healthy, because keeping all that bottled up inside usually only leads to more trouble. It’s why, when friends come to me to vent about stressful situations, I usually take time to listen–because I know how important it is to do that sometimes.  Likewise, the process of opening up is an opportunity for the listener to hear a part of someone else’s story–it is an opportunity to connect with someone on a deeper level, and human connection is the very stuff of life.

I haven’t been opening up to people lately out of fear of judgement, out of fear that they won’t see my words as valuable…and, as a result, I’ve been left with this feeling of emotional baggage in the pit of my chest.

It’s allowed the feelings of pain that I’ve been experiencing through growth to linger and fester.

It’s left me feeling angry and unheard.

This, as you might gather, isn’t serving me well at all. I have a lot going on right now. I’m currently working three jobs (a temporary arrangement as I transition into a new position), I’m working through a lot of personal stuff right now, and I’m trying to piece together what I want for the future. I have a lot of weight on my chest, all while trying to march into my mid-twenties with some degree of confidence (do I look confident? I don’t feel it a lot of the time).

I remember hearing while still in college that your twenties are lonely. I couldn’t fathom what that must feel like at the time. My college friends all lived five minutes away from me. I was perpetually tired and I procrastinated too much, but I had good people by my side. I remember thinking at 21 that, regardless of where I was on the planet, I would still have the people who matter to me a text message or a call away.

I didn’t understand then how idyllic college was.

I didn’t understand how much I would start to question myself out in the real world. How much I would let my guard down, and how much that would fucking hurt. I didn’t understand how self-conscious I would become about my feelings and my decisions.

Accurate
An accurate depiction of my life right now

It’s jarring coming out of college and not being engulfed in school work. In not having a regimented schedule. In having to figure life out. My college friends and I have all changed a lot since college. We’ve had our own struggles and our own successes. Our relationships have changed since college–being thrown out into the world after spending the majority of ones life in a structured, academic atmosphere can do that to you. While I do have friends in DC, building meaningful relationships with others is a lengthy, time consuming process for the introvert in me, and I haven’t been placing a whole lot of focus on relationship building lately because I’ve been actively trying to figure my life out.

Growth is hard. Change is hard. A lot of both of those happen in your twenties.

I’m trying to accept this growth as good (I really do believe it’s good, and I do think I’m in a better place overall than I was a couple of years ago, even if it hurts right now). Change is hard for me and always has been, and I’m trying to take it one day at a time.

Being negative isn’t my forte and I wasn’t intending to write such a negative post–but I damn, I’m tired of bottling up these feelings. It hasn’t been serving me well at all.

Real life is negative sometimes, and I’ve always striven to present an honest and accurate portrayal of my life at the present moment on my blog.

My goal with blogging in the next few months is to be more open. Writing comes naturally to me and it is also very therapeutic. I also genuinely enjoy the connections I have in the blogosphere, and I believe I can strengthen my existing ones (and perhaps develop new ones) while maintaining an openness in my writing. My lack of openness in my writing is affecting my mental health overall and while I want to make sure I’m talking through my experiences with people in person, I also need to keep writing. Blogging has changed my life for the better in so many ways, and I don’t want to forget that.

So, as I march into my mid-twenties with some degree of confidence, I will keep writing; I will keep blogging; and I will try my best to maintain a mentality of openness for anyone who is willing to listen.

 

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7 Replies to “On Growth and Pain and Being Open”

  1. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Too much information there! Sorry, I couldn’t help it 😉 You’ve been open on your blog all along so there is no need that change that – I can’t speak for others, but I would have left long ago if it bothered me…. As you know, I’m one who reads your posts and think, “yep, been there, done that,” though too often it is , “still there, still doing that’. OK, personal growth never ends and you never grow out of being an introvert (as if anyone would want to!) Looking forward to more posts.

    Not related, but I may be down in DC for a few days at the beginning of May. I’m also trying to get down there another time this year (both trips for work/training). Even though I don’t have much time to play tourist, I always enjoy my time in the city.

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    1. I suppose I’ve noticed the way my writing has changed in the past couple years because I’ve been so aware of it. Perhaps I’ve always been open, but what I’ve been open about has changed, and I have been refraining from writing about my emotions in the last few months (partly, out of fear of sharing them, but also because I’ve only recently begun to understand them). Thanks so much for your positive feedback. It’s very encouraging.

      That’s wonderful, Trent! You’ll be here before the insufferable humidity sets in. Let me know if you’d be interested/would have time to meet for coffee. I always love an opportunity to meet up with fellow bloggers in “real” life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Early May should be nice – it seems like usually I’m down there in August, when it’s very hot and humid… When it gets a little closer to my travel I’ll let you know if it looks like I’ll have free time. There are a few bloggers that I chat with off line quite a bit, but I haven’t met any face to face yet.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your honesty, as always. I’m a huge introvert, too, and like you have lately been shying away from opening up with others, considering that I’d been a bit too open a few months prior, and it seemed like people didn’t seem to understand, let alone care about it. However, I’m trying to not take it so personally, since I can imagine that I might do the same to them, and without me realizing it. Trying to open up again, especially with the new term starting at my teaching job. Still a learning process of developing the confidence needed to manage in the adult world, but with time, it’ll have to get better.

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    1. I’ve been working on being both more self-aware of how other people affect my emotions, as well as becoming more aware of other people before opening up to them. In the past, I’ve assumed that everyone is okay and comfortable with openness (I think, because my openness has been received so well in the blogosphere). I’ve been finding recently that there are people who aren’t comfortable with that, and I’m working to gage that in people before spilling my guts to them. 🙂

      A lot of times, it’s not that people don’t care, it’s that they aren’t comfortable with so freely opening up. I had someone tell me a couple months ago that I was too deep for them and I was like, “that’s bullshit.” I think everyone has the potential to be open, but a lot of people are too afraid to confront the emotions necessary to be open.

      I also think I sometimes jump the gun on opening up to people, because when I find someone who I connect with, I want to immediately be BFF’s…but I’m finding that building meaningful relationships with people takes time.

      Our society is built on the extroverted ideal, so I think it’s especially hard for us introverts to navigate social situations at times. There are so many instances where I’ve felt misunderstood in the last year simply because someone didn’t understand my perspective as an introvert.

      Best of luck as you learn to navigate the adult world. It’s a trip sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am busy trying to remove the filters I ended up placing on everything I share at the moment. It’s kind of scary, deciding to share more of your private thoughts and ideas with the world. Great post.

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    1. It is scary, I agree. I think, for me, it’s scary to let friendships and realtionships happen naturally. I too quickly want to jump into things because I’m impatient and because letting things happen naturally means surrendering control. In a way, that has been a filter for me because I’ve been trying to act like a quick thinking and acting extrovert, when I really need to function at a slower pace as the introver that I am. 🙂

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