Yesterday I went to my daughter’s school to help with a teacher appreciation lunch. It’s the end of the year, and all the kids were gathered in the central lawn with a photographer to take the official group picture. It’s a pretty large school, so that’s about 700-800 kids. My daughter is quite popular and lots of her friends stop in at our home after school, so they know me too. So as I’m walking by this enormous group of teens I hear “Jen!”, “Hey Jen” over and over. I just started waving like a celebrity…but inside I’m thinking, “Boy, what a difference 30 years can make to your middle school fame!” I was such a painfully shy child at that age. To make things worse, we moved to a different state between my 7th and 8th grade years and I remember well-meaning friends telling me that this was my chance to “reinvent myself” at a new place. I think someone even gave me a book! Oh, if only I could pass on the wisdom of age to the children I know now and tell them they will find their way. They don’t need to change. It will all be OK. I do tell them, but you know how we humans are. We’ve got to live it for ourselves before we believe.
I spent years trying to overcome my shyness, but even in my most talkative moments, someone will invariably come up to me and tell me how quiet I am. More than once someone (who later became a friend) told me their first impression of me was of someone who was aloof or scary. Guess I’ll never be one of those people who cheerfully tell prospective employers they’re “a people person.”. Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace my introversion. Without it, I would not be a painter…a job that requires hours alone in my own mind pondering life, connecting to God applying layers upon layers of paint to express myself. I wouldn’t be able to soak in the wisdom of books, listen attentively to a friend in need or find deep joy in pondering patterns in nature. It is who I am, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Are you a fellow introvert? Take comfort…I found this great Ted talk by Susan Cain (Author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking”)
And I do step out of my shell once in a while. If you’re in the San Jose area this weekend, I’ll be exhibiting and selling work at the San Jose Made event in San Pedro Square. Here’s the scoop: www.sanjosemade.com