I just got off the phone with an old coworker. Maria was the housekeeper for the veterinary hospital I worked in during the 90’s. She’s 67 today and really hasn’t changed that much over the years. She’s a simple person, a woman with a strong work ethic, good intentions and a crazy personality. I’ve always admired the easy black and white way she views her life and life in general. She takes care of her family, her cats and she is the type of person who didn’t mind traveling to a thankless job by bus every day so she could pay her bills herself.
Why am I writing about her? Because she’s a big presence, but not in the usual way you’d expect. When you have an encounter or conversation with Maria, you remember it. She’s not shy about expressing her feelings. And she never thinks before she speaks. She told me once a long time ago that “I eat real good,” but “I’m not that fat.” That’s Maria, and it’s kind of refreshing.
As an introvert, an INFJ, I appreciate extroverted, go with the flow confident people. Maria accepts who she is and doesn’t apologize for it. She can be hurtful at times, but you forgive her because she’s just being herself and doing the best she can with what God gave her.
We’re all different, and though I love meeting similar, like-minded people, I also enjoy hanging out with and befriending very different people. I believe we can learn about ourselves and grow as individuals. We learn how to talk to people, what to say and when to remain silent.
These days, I find myself in the middle of change. And I realize that even though I began this change, I still struggle with it. Being a highly sensitive person, my body reacts to the anxiety caused by change. I get headaches, stomach pain and fatigue. Just a few days ago, I was complaining about this to Mike, an old friend, and he said something I wasn’t expecting. His words were, “You managed to get married, buy a home and start a writing career. How can you not be big on change?”
So I thought about the huge changes I’ve made in my life the past 12 years. I got married to my best friend, we bought a house and I self-published three books. Was it perfect? Did it all go smoothly? Hell, no. And there was a lot more change and anxiety and issues I won’t even mention. Did I suffer stomach pain, fatigue, headaches and panic attacks? Hell, yes. But I did get through it, so does that say something about myself?
I wouldn’t say I’m big on change like Mike suggested, but maybe I’m the type of person who realizes change is a part of life. Whether or not we initiate it, change is inevitable. I get it, but my body doesn’t always agree and hop on board.
Plus, as an INFJ, I’m a bit of a control freak. It’s tough to let go and let things progress like they should or will. And when I feel like the situation is out of my control, I’m absolutely sick about it. And angry.
I’m writing this post today because I need to purge. My mixed emotions are wrestling inside of me and I don’t know how to settle them. I don’t know which ones will win. I think they’re all pretty damn strong and I wonder if my inner strength and faith can fend them off. I’m not crazy, extroverted Maria, but that’s okay. I’ve been learning to feel okay with who I am.
How can you not be big on change?
I did completely change my life. I committed myself to another in marriage. We bought a house together. We created a life together. We had problems and issues and worked through them. We worked, ran businesses and yes, I started my writing career, the one career I’ve always wanted and dreamed about. And now we are choosing to move. It’s not a big move, but it is. A new area, new community, new opportunities. But it’s close enough to drive back and not miss what we’re leaving behind. Changes for sure, but hopefully good ones.
So many people embrace change every day. Life-altering changes. And I look to them for encouragement and inspiration.
I think about my friend Rebekah, who’s strong, smart and courageous and thinking about ditching her current career to write full-time. Same with Anna-Marie. And Roxanna, who’s devoting her time to helping people with social anxiety, and is confident about her dream but knows if it doesn’t work out, there will be another dream for her. Katherine and John, talented writers who are daily reminders that there are kind-hearted people who just want to help you.
Maybe my problem has been not taking the time lately to be who I am. To remember who I am. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been working on my novella. I’ve been consumed with my warring emotions. And fear. Life is change and we can’t control it or stop it, but we can embrace it and take and trust the opportunities that are presented to us. And if we screw up, or we’re not happy, that’s okay. We can make another change.
It doesn’t matter where I live or what work I do for money. My writing matters. Being a supportive, inspiring friend matters. And I can do that anywhere. Thanks to the wonderful internet, I can draw strength from my artistic and amazing friends.
Thank you for letting me work through this sticky stuff, and it’s always sticky for an INFJ!
I’d love to know if you’re going through a change right now. How do you feel about it?
And here’s a poem I wrote several years ago that resonates today:
This is me then
and I’m terrified.
I shake, I tremble
I try to stay comfortable
but it’s so hard and
sometimes I can’t
breathe for wanting.
I go on
but it’s a chore.
I choose to ignore
my inner fears.
Yes, I procrastinate
but the time is
I feel alone and
in the dark.
I must come out
I must be strong.
This is me then
and it’s okay—
***Image above and lyrics by Candlebox.