“Hold on, beautiful”

“This time be my only girl/We could undress all the world.” —Undress the World,” The Milk Carton Kids

If writing is the love of my life than music is my mistress. I suppose it makes sense that lyrics have always been the most important part of music for me. Of course, not just lyrics—that would be not much else but poetry—but the way the lyrics are sung, the crescendos and voice cracks, the harmonies and vibratos and emotions. Music is sound, which writing can never be.

When I am caught in the throes of a musical love affair I often only want to write the lyrics of already existing songs.  I have notebooks full of songs already written, recorded word for word. I would rewind the song until I knew every syllable, until I transcribed it totally, and then would listen to it again, my eyes following the guide I had made. It was time filler, but made my soul feel light.

I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s an expression of obsession, or a desire to recreate what they have done. Perhaps it’s my own way of honoring their work.

Whenever I don’t know what to blog, writing lyrics comes to mind. For split seconds it always seems like a great idea, to share songs I love with the world, but then again, copyright laws, and then again, why would someone read the lyrics when they can hear the song in full with half a dozen keystrokes? I could do song reviews, I suppose, but who am I to say what lyrics mean to anyone but myself?

Lyrics alone do not do a song justice, anyhow. While I love them best, they lose their luster without a singer and a band.

Well, I’m a writer, after all. I shall write my own songs!…but how could I write something more perfect, more capturing of my situation than these songs that already exist? I would get more fulfillment from writing down what they sing, from hearing their cadence until it’s impressed on my mind. And even then, even if I were to write the lyrics of a song and comment on it, I would probably only gush about its greatness. Or, quite the opposite, I would ignore the rest of the song for my favorite line, the one that gets stuck in my head.

Perhaps this is partly why I like quotes so much. Snippets that capture a situation, an emotion, the song they are plucked from in so many words. If only there were a quote to sum up everything in the world. It would certainly make it easier to sing about:

 

“Witness what I listen. There’s a world here you’re missin’ to behold

A fiery night under the skies could warm your heart and hide away the cold

Venture out a little further and somehow you might find the courage to go

‘Cuz if you stand there long enough, you will realize you’re really on your own

Go on hold me

Go on hold me

Hold on, beautiful.”

“Undress the World,” The Milk Carton Kids

It’s about time I mention Susan Cain.

What’s an introvert blog without Susan Cain, anyway? Frankly I can’t believe I made it this far without talking about Cain or her book, or her super-popular TED Talk.

Without going too much into detail, Cain is one of the most vocal introverts out there, dedicated to helping people understand the “power of introverts” in an extroverted world. She kind of opened the pathways to discovering the pros of having introverts in a work space. She made me, personally, realize that being introverted isn’t necessarily a bad thing or something to be “fixed.”

I could probably do a whole A to Z Challenge about Susan Cain’s work, with a different quote or philosophy of hers every day, but I’d like to focus today on a quote from an interview she did with TIME Magazine:

“Shyness is fear of social judgment and humiliation, and introversion is really preference for less stimulation. You could have a child who prefers to work alone but is not afraid of other kids, but just has this preference. They sometimes come together but they can be very different. It drives non-shy introverts crazy when people assume they are shy when in fact, they are [simply] not wanting to participate.”

Now this interests me because I was always called shy as a kid. Sometimes I felt–and still feel–shy, but I wonder if I was always so. Did I become shy because I was told I was shy? If you say something often enough, it can become true. Or, am I just a shy introvert? They certainly exist.

Either way, I have grown out of much of my shyness, but not my introvertedness. I love how she said, “introversion is really a preference for less stimulation.” I like to think of it as a preference. You don’t control what foods or colors you like, you just discover it on your own through trial and error. The same thing happens with stimulation levels; the preferred level is discovered over time.

Even though I just admitted to sometimes feeling shy, I hate when people call me that. Especially when they say it like I’m not in the room, “Oh, she’s just shy,” as if my shyness caused hearing loss. While I see introversion as a positive part of my personality, I see shyness as a bad thing. A fear, like Cain said, of other people. Nothing racks up my anxiety more than someone calling me shy when I thought I was doing well and participating enough.

Worse than “shy” is “antisocial,” which I have also been called (to my dismay). When I read Cain for the first time I was relieved to find my feelings validated, to hear someone else’s voice tell me that I wasn’t antisocial, I just preferred less stimulation. That there was nothing wrong with me–in fact, my quiet tendencies gave me “power.”

Cain taught me and countless other introverts that it’s okay and natural for us to want to be alone now and then and to prefer less stimulating activities. She’s a wonderful woman and I highly suggest all introverts, especially ones just beginning to discover who they are, to read her work.

5 best quotes for introverts who feel bad that they just had to escape

Hey, every introvert has been there. An overwhelming party, parents asking too many questions, stressful assignments piling up…sometimes, an introvert just needs to escape and be alone. I tend to find a locked room and just sit in silence awhile, enjoying the quiet darkness. Others like plugging into music or getting sucked into a book or movie. Some knit, or play an instrument, or ride a bike for awhile. Whatever your escape, here are five quotes to assure you that escaping now and then is totally okay.

  1. Sometimes when you’re overwhelmed by a situation-when you’re in the darkest of darkness- that’s when your priorities are reordered. ~Phoebe Snow

There are some positives to stress. Many people work better with a looming deadline. However, when it becomes overwhelming, we reorder our priorities by escaping; by taking a few minutes to recharge, we are putting ourselves and our sanity at the top of our priorities list. Sometimes remembering to put ourselves first helps us handle everything else on our plate.

  1. I don’t think we realize just how fast we go until you stop for a minute and realize just how loud and how hectic your life is, and how easily distracted you can get. ~Meg Ryan

Extroverts and introverts alike can benefit from taking a few minutes to breathe. It’s helpful to remember that everyone, not just you, has a limit.

  1. The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude. ~Aldous Huxley

There are lots of very smart, very successful introverts. Our love of solitude helps us stay focused on personal projects and achieve more when alone than extroverts, who work best in groups. While I would hesitate to say that either introverts or extroverts are better than the other, it is nice to remember than introversion is not a fault, and can be a trait of a powerful and original mind.

  1. I can only really and truly fully relax on my own. Give me a sun lounger, a pool and a sea view, and I’m happy. ~Miranda Hart

Again, you’re not alone. It’s hard to keep up appearances, to be “on” for long periods of time. And that’s okay. It’s okay to be happiest and most relaxed when alone.

  1. Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it ~Michael J. Fox

Most of all, fellow introverts, I want you to accept yourself for who you are. Needing to leave a party for a few minutes (or not going at all) is nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not antisocial: you’re an introvert, and you’re not alone for wanting to be alone.

I am on the Seeds 4 Life!

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going.

Check out my guest post on the Seeds 4 Life:

It Does Not Matter Where You Are Coming From. All That Matters Is Where You Are Going – Brian Tracy

Loop-de-loop

Screaming louder than is ever necessary, stretching voices past their limits. Eyes open, hands tight, feet clamped around purses and the bags of popcorn, all threatening to fall out. After the fall, after the g-forces at the bottom of the dip make the air feel heavy with relief and they take the first inhale in about ten seconds and the car erupts with laughs and quick shouts, giggling girls and boys pretending to almost fall out. The thrill of the climb, the fear of the fall.

The high point, literally and figuratively, happens and is over in less than a minute. The rest is spent in either building excitement, before, or in recovery, after.

The thrill of the climb, the fear of the fall. The higher you go, the scarier it gets.

I thought of this analogy at an amusement park once, where the coaster dropped down and then seemed to try to wind its way back up to the top: It made me think of someone who may have “peaked in high school.” One good thing early on, and then nothing of note afterward

I hate that phrase, by the way. “Peaked in high school.” As if you only have one peak, and must use it wisely. Please.

The shape of your life’s roller coaster may vary. You may have a few peaks. You may have a huge rise—and a hard fall. You may have a few loop-de-loops, though I’m not sure how those fit in the metaphor.

The roller coaster doesn’t give up. We only think it peaks once because we stop watching after we ride it, but it never stops. It peaks over and over again, day in and day out. It keeps going, and going, until it literally breaks down. That’s not good either…you need to know when to break.

So if we shouldn’t view life as one ride of a roller coaster, and shouldn’t view day to day life as an endless cycle of hard effort until we break down…what am I getting at here?

The thing with a roller coaster is that you give up control. You let the cart go where it was designed to, where it was “meant” to go.” You follow the track.

My suggestion is that we should view life like riding a roller coaster that we design as we ride. If we put in the effort, we can make as many peaks as we like. If we need time to relax, we can have a bit of down time.  The tip is to listen to yourself, as the rider, and then respond, as the designer. Listen to yourself—are you ready for a break? Are you ready for a loop? Are you ready for a peak, or are you too afraid of falling?

Listen to yourself, you know? Introverts, we often only have ourselves. We know ourselves best, don’t we? Sometimes only we know what we need—especially when we try to hide those needs.

Don’t let someone else design your coasters. Only you know what you need.