A year ago I found out I had spent several years in pursuit of a movement I never knew existed. It’s called Minimalism. I stumbled across it quite accidentally. I googled something like, “how to live like a poor person.” I know, that sounds kind of wrong. I was looking for some special budgeting tips because I felt I had to be missing something. Anyway, I ran across The Minimalists and also Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. I began following The Minimalists podcast and starting really trying to refine what I had already been seeking.
Something that kept coming up concerning personal growth and discomfort was bothering me, however. The idea that anxiety and discomfort is somehow a pathway to personal growth. Like the minimalist Joshua Becker, I too am an introvert. I have spent a large majority of my 45 years fighting who I am. Putting myself into situations to somehow better or “fix” myself. Why don’t I like parties like everyone else? Why is talking in front of people so terrifying for me and yet others are uncomfortable but seem to get better with practice? Why is holding a conversation with another person so complicated?
Well, I finally reached a point where I learned that it’s ok to be this way. It’s ok to be me. Not all of us are wired to be a type A and we don’t all need to be that way. I don’t need to torture myself emotionally to try and be something I am not. This realization actually came after a couple years of my daughter’s autism diagnosis, which comes with much similar controversy, neurodiversity and such, which is an entirely different rabbit hole that I won’t go down here.
Since that realization, my pursuit has been one of comfort. I currently have the perfect job for me. I work one on one with people but have to make very little conversation is required, while still fulfilling my need for social interaction. Yes, introverts do still need social interaction. I improve my client’s physical health and mental well being, fulfilling my need to help others (I’m an INFJ). My work environment is quiet and relaxing. I work the hours I want and its very low stress.
So now that I am not torturing my psyche on a daily basis does this mean I am no longer growing as a person? Of course not. There are many ways to grow as a person in life. Trying new hobbies, exploring new places, working on my writing, expanding my knowledge as a therapist, focusing on my health and on and on.
That being said I will close with a quote:
Knowing others is intelligence. Knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is a strength. Mastering yourself is true power. -Lao Tzu