Friday, June 29, 2012

Where "Self-Help" fails...

For a while now I've been kinda beating myself up for not having a big group of friends from which I could pick and choose to accompany me to the gym or coffee or a crazy shopping spree a la Sex and the City to buy all of the latest trends. I've always thought it was a flaw (being shy) or that maybe people just don't like me {insert pity-party here}. 
image via Pinterest

Actually, this is not a new place to be for me. As an Air Force Brat I sometimes looked at our moves as an opportunity to reinvent myself...yea, even before Madonna was doing it...and I would tell myself that when we arrived at our next duty assignment I was going to answer only to my middle name, Susanne. I felt Lynn was boring...and obviously my name was holding me back. In my mind if I changed my name then I could change who I was completely. But I always chickened out and when introduced to new people I would blurt out "Hi, I'm Lynn", afraid they would somehow figure out I was an imposter if I said otherwise.

Sue Heck from The Middle, when she changed her name to Suki.
Over time I read numerous books that promised to change me into who I was really meant to be, which I am sure was a table-top dancing socialite who also happened to be BFF's with Jen Aniston, with total disregard to who I already was. Always trying to fix myself whether or not I was even 'broken'...that is the conundrum created by self-help-itis.

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It's as if we don't have enough pressure in this life...pressure to wear the right kind of jeans (Gloria Vanderbilt, of course) and shoes (Reebok's...without socks) in Junior High, pressure to pick the right career path (I'm 41 and still don't know what I want to do with my life let alone figure out what my calling is...I've been listening but have not received a reply yet), pressure to marry the right person and have babies (I remember my dad telling me when I was a little girl that I could be anything I wanted and then doing a complete 180 and saying there was nothing wrong with me being a housewife) we add in the pressure of always striving to be different or somehow better then who we are.

And we are convinced that it is a never ending quest...It can be exhausting...

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It's a fast track to disappointment because, if you're anything like me you didn't wear the trendy clothes in Junior High (nor do you wear them now) and maybe you didn't marry the right person the first {or second} time you perpetuate this inadequacy by reading books or watching TV shows that make you feel like you should be...well, like any one else except you.


So I may not have that many girl-friends or a standing lunch date every week but I do know (after my car broke down 2 weeks ago when it was 100 degrees out and I had a trunk full of groceries) that I do have friends who are there for me when I need them. I also know that I really enjoy an abundance of alone time (call me selfish) preferring to do many activities on my own without the pressure of accommodating someone else's expectations or happiness (none of that "what do you want to do? I don't care...whatever you want to do?" so you pick something only to be told "well, certainly not that...anything but that...").
I'm an introvert and no amount of self-help books or subliminal CD's will change that (I know, I've tried about 100 ways to create a New and Improved Me) and I'm pretty sure that even if there was that one magic self-help book that could change me I wouldn't buy it or even download it to my Kindle. Nope, not gonna do it.

Certainly there are a lot of areas in my life where I can improve. I'd like to work on my cooking repertoire (which I think my husband would appreciate since right now his dinners consist of grilled chicken, rice, veggie followed by grilled steak, rice, veggie with an occasional grilled fish, rice, veggie) and of course I want to work on my writing, photography, editing, running, and spiritual life (I might have mentioned once, or maybe 5 times, that I wanted to make meditation a priority in my life once again).

There's a fine line between pursuing goals or finding ways to grow as a person and falling in to the self-help trap that makes you wish you were some one else (okay, so maybe being a rich heiress wouldn't be all that bad). Our quest to be a better person shouldn't make us feel inadequate or flawed because of specific personality traits. Not everything should be viewed as something we need to 'fix' but rather something we can use to enhance our other experiences.

via Pinterest
These past few days I've been researching the first leg of our Grand RV Adventure. In roughly 4 months we will be pulling up stakes and hitting the road permanently in our RV loving named The Mutiny. Planning long stays in State and National Parks with no electricity and only my husband as company I realize the benefits of being introverted when it comes to seclution. As the weight lifts off my shoulders and the self-blame disappaites like sweat in a tech-tee I find I am comfortable being me.


  1. Wow, this really spoke to me. I struggle with being an introvert and not having a huge group of friends. Lately, I've really become ok with it, and stopped beating myself up with the "why doesn't anyone like me" pity-parties. It's so reassuring that I'm not the only one out there that feels this way.

  2. I think there are many like us but you know how introverts are...not likely to share that information to the world. :) Perhaps they are still wondering what's "wrong" with them. I get frustrated with the self-help world...always trying to get us to change when I think that maybe, just maybe, we are more than all right as we are...


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