I learned a lot while using InkTober as a mindful writing exercise last year. The most important thing is that even though it is a challenge that asks participants to draw something each day, one might not always be able to adhere to that schedule. Especially, if you’re someone who has health challenges as I do. I didn’t post yesterday for two reasons. The first is that I woke up in the early twilight hours of the morning because of a high level of leg pain, which was a sign that I wouldn’t be able to push myself. I’m sure someone reading this will wonder how drawing something and writing a few paragraphs is pushing one’s self, but doing those things while feeling a high level of pain requires exerting a lot of energy that’s better spent focussed on self-care.
The other reason I didn’t complete the entry and post it is that it’s a holiday weekend here: Thanksgiving. That means I get to spend time with people who might usually have hectic schedules. Yesterday, I spent some great quality time with my brother. He came to my home early in the afternoon and we spent hours talking and laughing, we barbequed burgers for dinner, and I beat him in two consecutive games of Scrabble. We were enjoying ourselves so much we didn’t realize how late it was until our second game finished just after midnight. Those are the kinds of days we’ve always enjoyed spending together so doing it yesterday even though I wasn’t at my best was great.
However, even with all that going on yesterday I had completed the mindful writing part of my daily challenge, which I edited today to explain not posting it. I was just short on time, and unwilling to rush, to complete the sketch. Therefore, today I’m posting my pieces for the InkTober Day 7 prompt which was the word ‘shy’. I’m still not great at drawing faces, but I think this is a significant improvement.
I was an extremely shy kid. It was hard for me to interact with anyone I didn’t know well. I would look at the ground instead of making eye contact when someone spoke to me. When answering a question, my voice would come out in a soft almost inaudible whisper. I would fidget. My leg(s) especially, would start to involuntarily bounce-shake (I know there’s a technical name for this action but I prefer using this term) at a rapid rate; and my bottom lip would almost get chewed through when I felt uncomfortable in a social situation, which usually meant wearing lipstick was pointless. I still have some of these tells today, but I’ve overcome a lot of my shyness.
Many people I know don’t believe I am or ever was shy. I understand why they might think that and I also now know that some of the things I felt frustrated about and used to believe were insurmountable aspects of my shyness, are not. It’s easier for me to do things I couldn’t when I was growing up after years of practice and, I have to admit, career training and experience. Even though I despise small talk, I can start conversations with strangers if the situation calls for it. I can also deliver a presentation/speech in front of large groups because I learned to put a lot of time into preparation, which may be the best way to ensure you won’t be overcome by nervousness.
Moreover, I’ve learned that I’m not just shy. I’m an introvert. So at times when I don’t feel like being part of a large social group – or any group – it’s not because of my shyness or me being antisocial; it’s because I need the alone time to recharge or think without noise. I also understand that my ability to be the life of the party – when I’m with close friends and family – is not contrary to the definition of introversion; it just means that I feel comfortable and secure with who I’m with and in my surroundings.
Most importantly, I know that there’s nothing wrong with being shy. It’s not a disorder that needs curing. It’s a single aspect of who I am. Besides, not always being in the mix of things gives me the chance to take a step back to assess people and situations – and my needs – to discern what is best for me.