It should be obvious that people don’t fit neatly into predefined boxes, but we seem to find it so convenient to stick ourselves and everyone else into such boxes nonetheless. I mean, a test on the internet told me that I am an INFP (I for introvert), and the details the test revealed couldn’t have sounded more truthful. After all, I am shy and quiet and can feel completely drained in large crowds. I have read and loved Susan Cain’s “Quiet” and felt proud to be a part of the introvert revolution.
And then something strange happened... I started reaching out and felt so incredibly energized. I started taking chances, asking strangers out to coffee and made some of the most powerful friendships of my life. I stood up in crowds of people, completely vulnerable, revealing the imperfect images that contain a piece of my soul, and shared the deepest motivations in my heart. And no one laughed at me, (though a few may have cried with me.)
I have felt more alive and filled with purpose than ever.
In my continuing quest for self-knowledge (and having forgotten my result,) I re-took that test and surprisingly came out ENFP... E for Extroverted. Aren't these traits supposed to be definitive and permanent? Aren't Shy and Extrovert mutually exclusive?
I thought perhaps I had subconsciously lied in my answers... and then it became clear:
The difference between an introvert and an extrovert lies not in their confidence or outward personality, but in the source of their energy.
Introverts gain energy from their time alone, while extroverts gain their energy from the time spent with others. I have always straddled this line, drawn to books and baths and quiet spaces of self-reflection… but truthfully drawing so much of my energy from the people I surround myself with (for better or worse). While my circle is often small, it is that circle that fuels me.
Self-knowledge shouldn’t be used as an excuse… it should be a tool for empowerment. That introvert label looked like it fit, and so I slapped it on and ‘accepted’ that I just wasn't meant to reach out and connect. The problem with this was that I needed those connections to fuel me.
So this is the place that has given me the space to step out and take those risks. With age and all that self-reflection, I know that I can go beyond being shy.
Bravery and confidence are muscles that can only grow by bearing the weight of vulnerability.
The Motherhood in the Raw (20 Mothers) Project was fueled by the desire to create a village and foster authentic connection in the modern world of physical separation and superficial connections, celebrating motherhood in its raw and messy beauty. I am so excited to open up a few more of these sessions early this year. You can get more information and apply to share your story HERE.
The truth is, this connection is what fuels every session that I capture, be it a couple learning to love wholeheartedly, an indie-preneur boldly pursuing the business at the heart of her passion, or a woman growing and embracing the worthiness of her body, mind, and soul just as she is.
For both me and my business, the theme of 2017 is CONNECTION. This is not a resolution, it is a guidepost.