Dear every person I know, have known or will know,
You may not know this yet, but you will. I am an incredibly frustrating person. And I have or will (mostly) unintentionally offend you.
No, really, it’s not just you. Everyone finds me incredibly frustrating and offensive at one point or another. Or many points.
It’s not something you did. It’s not something you said. It’s me. It’s how I am wired. Who I am.
You see, I love my family. I love my friends. I love learning about, listening to, and discovering new people. I love your stories. I love your jokes (even if they’re terrible). I love being a shoulder to cry on and the arm that helps carry your burdens. I love to laugh with you and get coffee with you and act like a 4th grader with you. I love to hug your kids and listen to them tell me all your secrets. I love you.
There are these three things about me that make friendships, relationships and all human interaction…hmmm…exhausting? Challenging? Stressful? Depleting? Anxiety-inducing?
They make me into a Triple Threat. Only not in the good, Broadway-star way.
Kristin = Introvert
First, I am an INFP, with a very, very heavy I. That’s I for introvert. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but you people exhaust me. You sap my energy. Even when I’m having a total blast. It’s like jumping on a trampoline. I am having so much fun nearly flying that I don’t realize how much work it is until I get off and try to walk up the stairs. Bottom line: if I don’t have time to be alone, to recharge, then I am a useless, crabby and resentful human being.
Oh, and new or quasi-new people terrify me. My whole life I have tiptoed close to the border of social anxiety. Somehow people are always surprised when I tell them this. I credit this to the hours in elementary and middle school spent acting with our fantastic community theater (thank you, Renee and Penny!) – they had the patience to gently coax the hidden Kristin out from inside the painfully shy shell. Though I am now able to mingle at parties, small-talk at work events, and function as a professional adult, it still takes me hours, sometimes days to talk myself up to go to a large social gathering.
Kristin = Introvert + Constant Contact with Needy Littles
Second, I stay at home with my three beautiful, but extremely present and needy girls. All day. Every day. So I’m almost never alone. Even when I get up at 5 am and just lay in my bed, someone always knows and magically wakes up. It’s kinda freaky. I don’t know how they do it.
Kristin = Introvert + Constant Contact with Needy Littles + ADHD
Finally, I have ADHD. Yup. Apparently I also hide this well because most people are surprised about this, too. I wasn’t diagnosed until college, but wow. Everything throughout my life makes so much more sense looking at me through the ADHD filter. So I am very easily distracted. And forgetful. And impulsive. If I had to exist as an adult in the era prior to phones that keep your schedule and beep at you, I would be in major trouble.
Kristin = Introvert + Constant Contact with Needy Littles + ADHD = Relational Disaster
So this lethal combination of traits is why I have 32 unread texts on my phone. Because on some days, after a full day of kids, activities, small-talk, deep-talk, volunteering and work, even reading a text is too much human contact for me. And then, if I don’t respond to a text right away, I get distracted and forget to reply. This is also why I almost never “like” things on Facebook. It’s not because I don’t like what you’re doing – it’s because I don’t even look at what you’re doing. Because even looking at what other people are saying and doing tires me out! And don’t even get me started on the phone. The phone is my kryptonite. Being an adult who has had to hold down a job has helped me get over my excessive phone anxiety. But (and it pains me to admit this), whenever possible, I make Nick call for me, even to order food. And this is why I will go months without calling even my very best friends, with whom I really do want to connect. But most of the time, when I do have a spare moment to chat, it’s because it’s a rare moment that I am alone and not doing something I have to be doing. And I just can’t give that up. And then, when I’m recharged, I forget.
Yeah. I’m a hot mess.
I used to hate these things about me. I used to wish I were someone else. I used to pray that God would turn these things off or make them magically disappear. I wanted to effortlessly know the right thing to say, to be able to small-talk, to chat for hours on the phone, to be pumped to go out after a full day of work, and to be exhilarated to attend large social gatherings.
But, then about 8 years ago, I realized that these things, frustrating though they are, were a part of me. They were the byproducts of my gifts. They were the worst that gave rise to the best (a topic for next week’s post).
I finally understood myself. So I could love myself. And I’m glad that I am who I am.
But, even though I have made a lot of progress, I know I still need to work on those things that impede relationship. And I know I’m still frustrating. Even to myself.
So, every person I know, have known or will know, I’m sorry. And thank you. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your understanding.
And thank you for being in my life in spite of me.
Now go away, and leave me alone.