All my life I’ve gotten into random conversations with people where the subject of our life trajectories comes up, and I always end up feeling kind of weird. This past weekend I hung out with a friend who told me he decided on his career path in high school, diligently researched colleges, applied himself strenuously to his field of study, threw himself at the best internships available, and then went on multiple rounds of job interviews with companies he had also heavily researched, and that’s how he ended up in his current job. He made a choice based on the menu of job options available in our society and then did everything he could to fit into that choice.
What about me? he asked.
This is when I felt that all-too-familiar weird feeling I always get during these discussions.
I’ve been writing seriously for about 12 years now, and while a lot of things have changed along the way, one thing has pretty consistently remained the same: I always seem to feel dissatisfied with my writing life.
Sometimes I’m unhappy with the writing itself, but experience has shown me that almost all bad writing can be improved if you just work hard enough at revisions. What I’m really talking about is something different, something deeper. It’s an insidious feeling of never being where I wanted to be, of always striving to reach some goal, and then reaching it and still feeling like I didn’t get what I wanted.
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As a writing coach who works almost exclusively with Highly Sensitive Writers, I hear the same phrases from a lot of different clients. “I’m an introvert, so I hate putting myself out there.” “I’m not that assertive.” “I prefer to stay in the background.” All these statements might be true in one way or another, but the reasons behind the statements tend to remain vague to most people, even if they are the introvert in question.
Even though the introvert awareness movement has made incredible gains for introverts over the past few years, most of us still struggle with limiting beliefs around what it means to actually be introverted. We might be out and loud and proud about NOT being extroverts, but at times we still assume that to be an introvert means that, basically, we are shy. And shy people don’t like the spotlight. So, when we try to put our finger on exactly what it is about marketing that makes us feel so, well, turned off by the whole process, we usually retreat back to this assumption. We are introverts, and therefore, we don’t want to call attention to ourselves. Because on some level, we are just plain shy.
A couple of months ago I posted Writers, Poets, Misfits and Other “Weird” People: It’s Time to Stand Up and Own It and I got an overwhelming response. So many people emailed me to say that they have always felt out of place all their lives, that they never knew where they fit in, or even if they ever would. They were surprised and relieved to find that others felt the same way. Suddenly, a whole new world had opened up to them.