3 tips to have a more grateful year

This photo is (c) 2016 Unsplash and made available under a CC0 Public Domain license.

I meant to write this about a month ago: my new year’s resolution. Eek. 2017 is off to a great start, eh?

Last year I decided that I wanted to be kinder in 2016. The thing with vague touchy-feely resolutions is they’re hard to measure… but you know, I think just making that resolution was good. It might have been vague, but it was something to reach for whenever I was in a tough situation and would usually lean towards being unkind.

And so, in 2017 I’ve decided my resolution is to have more gratitude. Here’s how that looks for me. Let me know in the comments what you think and what your touchy-feely or more practical resolutions are! 🙂

Recognize the strength that exists in weakness

In many situations I am often the awkwardly quiet one. Some people mistake this for shyness; really, it’s a preference. Like many introverts, I don’t mind just listening.

But sometimes the things people say about my quietness get under my skin—and I’ll think, why can’t I be a bit more open and outwardly enthusiastic? Would it hurt to interrupt someone one time when I have something to say?

It’s okay to want to grow as a person, obviously. What’s not okay is to wish away your innate personality traits because they don’t help you to fit in (in my humble opinion). There are strengths in those weird traits. Don’t be like the mom who tells her son not to wear pink because the other kids will make fun of him. If wearing pink or being a superb listener instead of a big talker is what you enjoy, then take a moment to appreciate the benefits of those interests/traits to yourself and others.

In tough situations, look ahead

I’ll admit that 2016 was tough for me. I spent a good portion of it mentally transitioning away from my hometown and into a new city… not fun. I’m good now, though, and on the rare occasions when I think back to how I felt, I feel gratitude. All of those difficult days in the past make me realize that feeling content is a blessing that not everyone gets to experience on a daily basis. They also made me a stronger person, as cheesy as that is to say.

That’s not to say that when I’m having a bad day now I think, “at least it’s not as bad as summer 2016.” When you’re feeling crappy, you’ll do no good to yourself by comparing your situation to your past or to others.

Instead of looking to others or to the past when you’re in a tough situation, look to the future. Consider how what you’re going through now will prepare you for whatever is ahead and at the least give you a change of perspective.

Let others know of your gratitude

Another typical introvert thing about me is I crave my alone time when I need to recharge. This sometimes results in me being a little quick tempered to anyone who tries to get in the way of my ‘me time.’ I want to fix this.

There has to be a more gracious way to say, “Please leave me alone to watch bad TV for the next two hours; yes, it actually is more important right now than talking on the phone.”

Um, how about, “I’m feeling really tired right now and would like some time to myself. Can I call you back when I’m done watching four important reruns of 2 Broke Girls? I really do want to talk to you!!!”

It’s an improvement.

How to not suck at self-care as an introvert

Confession: I’m terrible at taking sick days.

Some gross proof of this is that time a couple years ago that I ended up with a bad cold and ear infection the night before I was supposed to leave for an eight-month overseas work term. I’d worked myself so hard to keep up my hours at my usual job, say proper goodbyes to my friends, and pack my things that I’d left minimal time to take care of myself.

This photo “Exhausted” is (c) 2011 leniners and made available under an Attribution Non-Commercial  license.

I ended up having to reschedule my flight for a week later–and believe me, I really needed to use that week to rest.

Continue reading “How to not suck at self-care as an introvert”

3 tips to use anger constructively as an introvert

I’ve felt angry and generally uneasy this past week. I think that’s been true for a lot of people, due to the US election and other world events. It’s also come up for a more personal reason for me: I overheard someone call me ‘shy.’ (See my post in this blog on myths about introverts to find out how I feel about that word.)

Anger is a powerful tool that can help us figure out what is important to us and what really, really has to change. While many introverts don’t feel at home at protests, you can express anger in constructive ways. Here’s how. Continue reading “3 tips to use anger constructively as an introvert”

Tooting your own horn as an introvert

This photo, “Megaphone,” is (c) ashley.adcox 2008 and made available through an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license.

I got a couple bits of fun news over the last few days: First, a piece I wrote for the blog of The One Project (an awesome photography community for people with depression and anxiety) was posted! And second, a short story I submitted to a contest was selected as a finalist!

But there’s a bit of a catch to that second one. Continue reading “Tooting your own horn as an introvert”

Why Being Lonely as an Introvert is Complicated

In a college class I took,  a presenter one day led an icebreaker game called Cross the Line. Maybe you’ve heard of it. In it, the presenter read out statements one at a time and students crossed onto the other side of the room if they agreed with the statement in question. Years later, I still remember what happened when the presenter announced, “Cross the line if you’ve ever felt lonely.” Everyone except one woman crossed. Then, a woman who had crossed along with the rest of us called out, “Well, you’re alone now.” It was funny but kind of sad.

According to a recent Globe and Mail article on a loneliness crisis, almost 25% of Canadians describe themselves as feeling lonely. Yet we don’t talk about it.

Continue reading “Why Being Lonely as an Introvert is Complicated”

Mental Health and Me

We can gain so much by listening to each other’s stories.

It’s easy to take this for granted when everything is going great, ‘hunky-dory’ as the saying goes–but I’ve been experiencing a change in perspective over the past couple of months that has made me want to reach out, to be a little more vulnerable, and to encourage others to do the same. So, in this post I want to share a little story of what’s been going on with me as it relates to mental health. Conveniently, it’s Mental Health Week in Canada, so I hope my voice will add to the many other important stories being told in the next few days across the country.

Continue reading “Mental Health and Me”