There have been a few times over the years where I have been labeled as negative. I have always been genuinely perplexed by this accusation.
Sure, I share a lot of my inner thoughts, and I have been through a lot in the last few years, but fundamentally I am an optimist. Internally, I have managed to bootstrap myself out of all sorts of ordeals, put a positive spin on it and try very hard not to dwell in despair for too long. And when I look over the bulk of the material I produce online, I don’t see it as overly negative. Reflective, honest (sometimes brutally so) and usually philosophical is the intention.
I’ve been doing a lot of inner reflection since my marriage ended. Trying to learn who I was outside of that. Learning about my personality, who I am in my *own* right, without the labels of “wife” and “mother” and “business person” etc attached. And I have learned a whole lot. I have been copping loads and loads of flak from people who just don’t get what I do.
They make claims that I am somehow this “victim”, or that I somehow deliberately upset people, or that I go out of my way to be negative. I copped a hammering on Formspring the other day, and despite me being all chipper and funny about it, it does still surprise me that people have the wrong end of the stick.
I’ve been interested in Psychology for a while, and now that I am studying it I am sort of immersing myself… trying to be as healthy in my mind before I take on the heavy duty job of helping others. I’ve been learning about the Myers-Briggs personality types in much greater depth, reflecting on the information, and basically immersing myself in it (and other things). For many years I considered myself to be an introvert. I have tested pretty consistently as an INFP for as long as I have been aware of the tests. But something never quite sat right with me.
Because I share. I share a lot. I cannot be alone. And even though there is a rich “inner world”, it is nowhere near as introverted or internal as I would have thought. It comes across as needy, or oversharing and I could never quite figure out why I felt this urge to connect with others so much, or seek so much validation from people online. It’s because I am actually an extrovert. I take on energy from being around other people. It’s subtle, and I do struggle with too much “other people” all the time… but I came out the other side of all this learning and realised that I actually do not have this burning desire for aloneness, or recharge time, like other introverts. Sure, I realise that the MBTI is not the be all and end all, and that these are not traits, they are just natural inclinations… but still… it was a bit of an epiphany for me.
“Broken” ENFP’s often test as INFP’s – because they learn self-protective behaviours that stop them from being hurt or rejected. Over the years, I have tried to be “out there” and connect with people, but have been pretty well rejected. I don’t know why this is, and I am trying to learn why that is and what I can do to change it.
Because I don’t have that many close friendships. I find it hard to connect with people – not because I think I am special or above it – but because I find it hard to maintain long lasting relationships with any0ne. I tend to fuck it up by not being self-aware enough about what my needs are, or why I behave in a certain way. Or, I just unknowingly sabotage or challenge relationships with my perfectionism (for myself and other people). I am still figuring that bit out.
The reason I reach out on Twitter when I am processing something is because I *do* seek external validation of my thoughts and feelings. I have the benefit of an audience, and a group of acquaintances on there that are wise, and generally help me when I am in need of some feedback. Social Media is all about the ups and downs of people, and I think it’s a little naive to think that someone who only shares positive thoughts is a generally positive person. And if I do go on a rant, or say something negative, I will generally pull myself out of it pretty quickly.
I have always said that I write like 3 people are reading. And it’s the truth. I liken this blog to a shoebox full of letters, for people to see a glimpse of me 100 years from now. I write for my children, so they can see what’s going through my mind. I really do write for me. The stuff I write can be fairly heavy going, because it really is a stream of consciousness most of the time. I very rarely revisit a post after the first draft… I write to process and the conclusions happen organically as I write.
So why so I share?
My letter to my doctor, that was called too personal, was the catalyst for at least 5 different people writing a letter, getting a diagnosis and treatment.
My blog posts through my Grandma’s cancer was the catalyst for at least 7 people to share their stories of losing their loved ones.
My letters to my children have encouraged countless people to contact me over the years, to tell me that they have tears when they read it and they now write to theirs.
I get contacted every second day by someone, saying that the stuff I share has given them the courage to make changes in their lives, like look at their marriage, or make big decisions in their career… or that the things I have wrote have moved them in some way.
There are people who just don’t get the idea of storytelling. That this is simply my story. That my stories have the wonderful side effect of helping others, and I find this tremendously, TREMENDOUSLY humbling. That I get the privilege of having my words influence others — not many people get that luxury. And I guess the power of the words I use, for as many people as it motivates, it can also have the effect of making other people uncomfortable. I guess that may be where the idea of negativity comes from. Because people don’t see the positive, private feedback that I get. And they also focus on how my writing makes them feel, rather than asking themselves *why* they feel that way.
Because I am a work in progress. I process my thoughts externally, via this blog, and the positive feedback I get far outweighs any of the negative. But, I do worry about these things. I do hurt over the idea that other people seem able to connect and form relationships where I can’t, because I fuck it up. But, I am also learning that it is OK. Because the friendships that I do have are generally worth it.
I am learning to be less defensive. I have a lot of walls that have come from many years of abuse and bad relationships. But, I am not a negative person. I am a resilient person and I am optimistic and positive. And what I do here does good for others. And I need to remind myself of that.