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Endure Some Mayhem

Endure Some Mayhem

Here’s a story: I don’t go out much. I need a lot of recovery time. I can only have so many interactions in a day before I get to a point where I can’t string words together coherently anymore. I’m an introvert. Small talk and/or too many details makes me sleepy. Sooooo sleepy. I love napping. My command center is my bed. I’m also a highly sensitive person. Too much stimulus makes me ragey. More bed.

I’ve been telling that story for a while now because once upon a time it was revolutionary. It saved my life. I used to have no idea that I was allowed to get up and walk away from a table of extroverts and go lay down. I had no idea that there were other people who had meltdowns in electronics stores, or dreaded being committed to even the coolest of social opportunities. Learning to tell a cohesive story about my capacity gave me the permission I needed to take stellar care of myself, to become a more discerning person, and to stop acting like a deranged toddler when I got overstimulated.

Also, it’s just a story.

Eventually our stories become mantras. Eventually our mantras become habits. And eventually our habits aren’t serving us anymore. We fall asleep at the wheel. We arrive places and don’t remember how we got there. Often those places aren’t where we set out to go.

What was once new and useful and awake can become stale, constrictive, and limiting.

We have to continuously be smarter than our habits. We have to both understand how to create habits, and know how to unhinge them.

I worked diligently to integrate the ability to navigate my social sensitivities. It was awkward the first few hundred times I turned down invitations or left a perfectly good room of people for no reason other than to get the hell out of it.

Then it got easier.

That’s about when I started having even more social situations to navigate. My calendar started filling up. My son’s calendar started filling up. The ranks of incredible people who I wanted to spend energy on in my life started rising. There was dating. The stakes were being raised and my old story was sounding stale.

And, now, instead of giving me agency, the story was giving me anxiety.

How will I ever be able to do all of that stuff in a week? Two things in a day? I’ll die, I would think.

Not a super healthy mind state.

So I started to think about what it would take to say “yes” more. What it would take to remain discerning and maintain my energy levels without it all being quite so binary. How much can I actually endure?

As it happens, I see this perfect articulation spray painted at the park while I run. Thanks, confirmation bias! Also, another sound argument for exercise. Ahem.

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Some? Okay. Sure. I guess I can endure some mayhem. Some mayhem is probably good mayhem inoculation, right?

And now I’m writing a new story. Or editing, or maybe adding a chapter. Whatever the metaphor.

The thing about your stories is that no matter how much they once served you, sometimes you have to consciously reverse their direction to stay on your track. If you go North far enough, you will eventually start going South.

Even compassionate intentions, taken to extremes, can become blind fundamentalism.

So what do you think? How willing are YOU to change your stories, change directions, endure a little mayhem?

Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a makeshift doughnut pillow / travel pillow while I write to you. I’ve badly bruised my tailbone because I fell down the stairs.

I live in my head and forget about my feet. A lot.

So full of grace, but clumsy to the core. Perhaps I should go spray paint “… and mortification” onto that wall at the park. I would. But my butt hurts.

At least I didn’t break my thumbs. Feel free to send flowers.


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5 Responses to Endure Some Mayhem

  1. Stacey Lai says:

    Hi Meg,

    I love your writing, your blog and your emails. Today’s blast was exceptional as well. I can relate to the social pull back, love-hate relationship and anxiety. I do a lot and am very productive in my work like, church, community and for my friends/family. I love doing a lot of things, but mostly love doing it behind the scenes and without interacting with people. This morning I was drawn to a tedx talk of a young man in Boston who was featured in our business journal and it is a lot of what your posts addresses – chaos. I bet you will like it too.

    When you are done with your talk in Portland, OR – re: anxiety, will it be online to watch?

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Loved reading your article today. I was just Facebooking about being an Introvert as I’m reading Introvert Power and realizing I’m not a weirdo, I’m just an introvert. I think the biggest thing one gets after realizing this is to give yourself permission to set up boundaries, not go to big crowded events, not feel like you have to be friends with everyone as you are conserving energy for those special few, and not judging yourself for not being as outgoing as others.

    While I have been trying to change my story and be more outgoing, I also realize ways I can take care of myself. I’m not calling myself ‘weird’ as much as just enjoying the fact that what I am can be as normal as anybody else’s truth of who they are.

  3. laura says:

    well said! sending virtual flowers. lets see…there’s some daisies and some tulips and some babies breathe and some roses (thornless) and some pansies. xoxo

  4. Heidi Astraia says:

    I love you sister! Brilliant, beautiful sister. Well you’ve definitely described me and apparently so many others with this one. Not only about being an introvert and being ok with that, but the need to be flexible with our story as well.

    So sorry about your tailbone, ouch! I used to live in my head too and forget my feet, but several years ago I made barefoot grounding a priority at least once a day for 20 minutes, or several times a day for 5 minutes each. Wow, what a difference that has made. Hope you’ll try it. BTW – the feet/tailbone/base center represent our Will To Be Embodied. We all struggle with this to various extents. The only reason I can find to support my Will To Be Embodied is Love and Beauty.

  5. Bonnie Lynch says:

    Insightful post!
    I’ve realized in the last couple of years that the best way to ensure I don’t overdose on mayhem is to stop saying yes to people and things, when “yes” is only a way to be liked, admired, accepted, or to avoid conflict. In the past, “yes” often bore no resemblance to the availability of time or sanity resources in my life. I was chopping down my forest of coping ability faster than I could regrow it. Now I’m moving into habits that keep the mayhem at a sustainable level when it’s under my control to do so. That means that when the occasional “surprise mayhem forest fire” happens, I’ve got resources ready to minimize the damage it can do.

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