Thou Shalt Not Should On Thyself

I recently had minor surgery and I’m off work. No real pain or discomfort. Should be a jolly time of Hallmark movies, Law and Order episodes, reading and resting.

But…

The brain that is wired to the guilt string never lets there be peace for long.

Oh the ‘shoulds’ that undermine happiness.

I should be reading

I should be writing

I should be making my presence known on social media

I should have a brand, followers.

I should have a platform

I should be focused and not emotionally invested in twelve projects at any one time.

I should be focused on healthy living

I should be volunteering

I should be, should be, should be…

Happy

I should be happy.

I should be happy, for the only thing that lies in my way is my own manufactured angst.

Don’t misunderstand me, angst is angst, manufactured or created by circumstances. There’s just more guilt in manufactured angst – I should be able to control it.

I have been introspective all of my life. I just can’t let pesky thoughts and feelings alone. Like a scab that must be picked. I just can’t let myself be happy.

But for the rest of today, I am going to pick a direction and go with it. I am going to fight the shoulds and focus on the random beauty about me and the small joys. I am going to be curious about the future and find things to look forward to.

I hope your day is should-free and curiosity piques your mind.

Lord Love a Duck

As I said before, all introverts need a ducky or two, those wonderful people who balance our excessive need to hyper-analyze. The Yang to our Yin.  But, perhaps I shouldn’t speak so generally. For me, duckies are the ones who release me from paralysis. Without them, I stagnate in my comfortable cocoon.  They provide a judgement-free zone that frees my tormented mind.

Duckies have always taken on a bit of rock star aura in my eyes. They jump right in as if they belonged, have no doubt of their welcome and ignore nuanced reactions that would send me scuttling back to my den. They are like mythological heroes, larger than life, ten-foot tall and bulletproof.  I follow in their wake, starry eyed, close enough to their orbit to float along their gravitational pull.

But perhaps I am crossing up extroverts with those just comfortable in their own skin. A ducky can be an extrovert but just because someone’s an extrovert it doesn’t make them a ducky.

My husband’s a ducky. An introverted ducky. Very little rattles him and if it does, it’s not for long. He’s learned to waterproof his feathers so the slings and arrows of life do not penetrate.

I’ve had extroverted friends who are duckies.  I would sit back and shake my head at how unaware they were of other’s reactions. How could they not see? But, who was the happier? It certainly wasn’t me.

But, extroverts have many friends and eventually, I get pushed out of the gravitational field. Or I linger too long along the edge and fall off.  Probably more that latter. Because, and here’s the secret of the introvert, nothing feels better than canceling plans.

So how’s an introvert to maintain relationships with her duckies?

I Still Don’t Know How to Friend

I’ve had so many thoughts whirling about in my brain over the last twenty-four hours for blog posts. Now that I’m at my computer, they’ve seemed to scurry under the covers like I should be doing. An old dog barking to go out at 4 a.m. is hell on my sleep schedule.

Conversation

Do all introverts over-analyze the minutiae of every interaction with other human beings? What was said, how it was said, what wasn’t said. Was I too loud? Did I come on too strong? Did I remember to verbalize the appropriate responses? Did I keep from rolling my eyes? Was it obvious I wanted to escape? Did I cling to the one person who made me feel comfortable?

Is the angst worth it?

I was ten when a new family moved into the suburban house across the street. A good Catholic family with six kids. Three of the girls were within a year of me. The dynamic of the neighborhood changed overnight. I’d lived there all my life. I was comfortable. But now, these kids were outside, playing, laughing and suddenly I felt like the interloper. I didn’t know how to fit in, join in, to my changed landscape. I stayed in the house most of that summer because I couldn’t go across the street and ask if I could play. The stakes were too high. What if they said no? I would be extricated from my own neighborhood. It was easier to retreat than to be forced out.

Eventually, I crossed the street and made a friend. It was okay for a year, until the day the little girl across the street, my best friend, stopped speaking to me. Darkness and despair followed. As well as embarrassment and self-recrimination. It lasted for six miserable months. Six months of exile without a clue why. Then the family moved.

Are friends worth it?

I know many people who can sort through the flotsam and jetsam of relationships, picking up the good and letting the sea take the rest. Ignoring the difficult without a second thought. Like water off a duck’s back.

I have to pick up each piece, catalogue and store it all, even the tiniest shard. Later, I take out each one and turn them over in my hands, examining every detail. Lists of defects are gathered, pondered over and blame is placed, usually upon myself.

Is it because friendships are so much work for an introvert that we have so few of them? Or are our circles drawn to only allow a few?

Or maybe we just don’t know how to do the friend thing.

I remember my mother sending me off to camp with the words, if you want a friend, be a friend. So much pressure. It was all up to me. I could have friends if I acted right, but then, if I didn’t have friends it was all my fault.

And what was acting right? What were the rules, the expectations? Did the other kids know them? How did they know what eluded me? Or did they never think about these things?

I still don’t know how to friend. Yes, I made that a verb. Friend. Definition: To act in the acceptable way to be a friend.

Over my life, my friends have mostly been simple extroverts. Simple because they don’t overthink life, they live it. Duckies who let it all roll off their backs. I don’t have to worry about offending them by making a misstep. They aren’t sticklers for the rules of friending. They are the safe ones. The ones that live in the moment and give my brain a rest.

God bless the duckies. All introverts need a ducky or two.

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