For the love of an Introvert

I am an introvert. The dictionary definition describes us as “a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things”, as opposed to the dictionary definition of an extrovert being – “a person predominantly concerned with external things or objective considerations”. These are the psychological definitions, while simplified labels are shy versus outgoing. While no one can be boxed completely into either category, we all lean more heavily into one state of being. For me, I have always enjoyed the quiet of being alone with my thoughts, rather than abundant conversations and other activities that require me to socialize.

There is always an exception to this rule. Of course, I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, and if you were to see me around my family, best friend or boyfriend, you would have no idea that I am normally very quiet and closed off.

While the dictionary would label me as “shy”, this isn’t a term I connect with. I choose to keep to myself not because I am nervous or timid, but simply because that is what feels right to me. Sure, I have a history with social anxiety, but this keeps me from leaving my house – not from speaking when I actually do. I have no problem expressing my opinion if I am angry or irritated, or overjoyed even. I just don’t feel the need to always speak on the mundane and simple topics that normally fill everyday conversation.

For the longest time, I was ashamed to be labeled as an introvert. I thought there must be something wrong with me, some wiring in my brain that kept me from wanting to talk. I would beat myself up over it, and admire the people that could strike up a conversation about the tiniest of things, making friends as easy as counting to three.

I embrace the label now. I am proudly an introvert – if you feel the need to label me this way – because of the qualities that come with it. I am a good listener, an abundant feeler, and when I do choose to speak, I know I am saying the right thing. My opinions and thoughts are well thought out, I care deeply about everything and everyone, and I enjoy my own company. I don’t fear being alone with my thoughts anymore, because I am one of my own best friends.

Which label do you fall under? I personally find that most of us fall somewhere in between, and that is perfectly okay.

 

Wait, you met your Boyfriend when??

My boyfriend and I met in High School. Almost every time I say this, I am met with negativity and doubts. Common opinions that I have never asked for consist of “You aren’t going to last”, and “There’s no way you can know you’re in love that young”. I’m not here to fight those comments. They are opinions, and frankly, I don’t have time for them.

However, I do want to talk about my relationship. When I sat down to write today, my intention was to touch on having hard days, but instead, the only thing I could think about was how Blaine and I met. Now, I’m not sure if that’s because I’m sitting in our apartment together, surrounded by a combination of our things, or if I just miss him, having not seen him in over two weeks. But whatever the reason, I decided to take this opportunity to reflect.

Blaine and I met in a High School physics class. Being a socially awkward teen who also had a distinct dislike for most people my own age and their drama, I often chose to sit as far away from my classmates as possible. In physics, this meant the table closest to the teacher. For several classes, this worked well. I was able to do my work in peace, only having to hear the distant babbling about whatever trivial matter my classmates were angry about that day.

That was until Blaine sat down next to me. I don’t remember exactly why he moved seats. If by choice, or by partnered assignment, but whatever the reason, my initial response was annoyance. How dare this guy dare intrude on my perfect order? I come to class, I answer a few questions, avoid all contact with other teenagers, and I go home. Over the next couple of days though, my attitude quickly shifted. I began to look forward to the forty five minutes in which Blaine and I would pretend to be talking physics, instead quietly getting to know each other.

Soon, we were meeting outside of school. We would go to the movies where I would say I didn’t want any popcorn and then proceed to eat all of his. This resulted in the tradition of one large popcorn and one large drink to share. We would go for walks and just talk about everything from big world problems to trivial matters.

I could write a whole post on when I knew I loved him. I could devote pages to the tiny moments in which I am reminded of the many reasons he is my one and only. However, those are stories for another day.

To this day, we joke that we owe our whole relationship to a piece of gum. It became ritual that at the beginning of every class period, I would ask him for a piece of gum. He always seemed to have a pack patiently waiting in his bag, an endless supply. Whether I have gum or the universe to thank for putting us together, I thank both.

However many years ago, as a teenager struggling to figure out who I was as a person, I never would have imagined that as a 21 year old, I would be living four hours from home with the love of my life. I never would have thought that I would meet that man at my least favorite place – school. I never would have thought that we would be celebrating three years together, and looking at many more amazing years and memories to come.

Blaine and I in ways are polar opposites. He loves playing video games and building model tanks, while I love reading and writing. He is obsessed with history, while English is more my forte. He’s slightly more outgoing than I am, but we both love sitting at home watching a movie and eating pizza. Whatever it is that makes two people compatible, we have it, even if on the outside, we don’t appear to be a perfect fit.

I’m not sure exactly what the object of this post is, other than just to say that true love doesn’t know age. Love doesn’t know society’s rules of what is right and wrong. Love doesn’t know gender, race, or backgrounds. It doesn’t matter if you meet them in High School, or when you’re forty five, when you meet “the one”, you’ll know.

I don’t know how to end this ramble of a post, so I’ll just end it by saying this. Love who you love. Don’t let other people dictate if that is right or wrong – your heart knows.

And maybe take a minute to reflect on your love story. I would love to hear all about it in the comments! This world could always use a bit more love.

You Are Not Alone

“What reason do you have to be depressed?” “You’re so young, you don’t even know what real problems are, believe me, you’re not depressed.” “You’re just over reacting.”

These statements only begin the list of doubts I heard from not only strangers, but even family and friends when it first became apparent that I was struggling. Struggling being the watered down term I began to use when depressed caused people to tip toe around me as if I were made of glass.

While it didn’t take much to admit to myself that I was depressed, telling others was another story. I knew that people wouldn’t believe me. And even worse, people would.

To this day, several years later, my history with depression isn’t a story that I tell very frequently. There is such a stigma around the word, especially for young people. People immediately want to know every reason you have to explain why you are depressed. They think that just because you are under the age of twenty five, your life requires their expertise to determine the legitimacy of your mental illness.

Dozens of therapy sessions and many long nights crying later, I can proudly say that I survived my battle with depression. But that was just one fight. The truth is, for most, depression is a long war that has to be fought many times before it’s truly won. But the difference is, I’m not scared this time.

I swore to myself after I was quote on quote determined “cured”, that I wouldn’t speak of my depression publicly again. The truth is, I’m not even certain why I am doing it now, but what I do know, is that there are way too many young kids hiding in their rooms, suffering, afraid to tell anyone because they are afraid they won’t be heard.

I remember all to well being sixteen with my head between my knees in the corner of my room, sobbing into a pillow in hopes that no one would hear me. Just as awful, I remember the days that I couldn’t cry at all and my body felt numb.

I know I am just one person in billions. But we all are. If nothing else, I hope this post makes you think. I know it’s different from my previous poems and stories, some even uplifting and inspirational. But the truth is, if I hadn’t been able to make it through my very real depression, a depression many people didn’t want to recognize existed in me, then I wouldn’t have been here to write these posts.

You’re not alone. Your depression is real. You can beat it. Thankfully for me, I had very loving parents and an amazing best friend that pulled me through to the other side, while I kicked and screamed right along side them. But many people aren’t as lucky. All it takes is for one person to say “This is real. This is not in your head. This is scary, but you are going to be okay.”

Be that person.

Please leave me a comment, let’s start a discussion. And please, feel free to share. The world needs you.

Sisters, Biological and Other

Anybody who knows me, knows I’m the middle child of three girls. It’s not exactly something I keep a secret, being the middle child irritated me for the longest time. Growing up, it seemed no matter what happened, I was always in the middle. My older sister got things first, my younger sister got things last, and I just…well I just existed. This isn’t a new realization. Middle children have been screaming their battle cries for decades. There is a reason we are commonly known as the most outspoken, the loudest. We have fought our whole lives for a spot in our own families, it isn’t hard for us to fight for a spot in the world as well.

As I grew up, however, it became less important to me where I ranked in the birth order of my siblings, and more important that I even had them. My sisters, biological and other, have been my best friends since the minute I was born. Well, in my younger sisters case, since the minute she was born. Our house has always been full of estrogen, arguments fueled by hormones, and way too much clothes. The smell of perfume has always been suffocating, and nothing is just yours unless you write your name on it. Even then, ownership is risky.

Having sisters means always having a friend. And whether this is a cliche or not, it’s an undeniable truth. I can’t preach about the amazing life of having a brother, as many do. When I was younger, having a big brother was something I dreamed about endlessly, picturing a protective figure, someone who always had my back while also making my life a living hell with his teasing and harmless jokes. Instead though, I found this in cousins, in uncles, and in my father. Every gap I thought existed was filled in one way or another, my sisters and I forming a small group of soldiers that were a force to be reckoned with.

Since the youngest sister was born, our band has been known as the Three Elles. A title given to us fondly for the ending of all of our names. It was always a given however, that when you saw those three blonde heads in the crowd, there was always a certain brunette to be found somewhere close by. Another sister, not biological, but to me just as important. Us four, we are the ocean, and no matter where we wander, how far apart we may float, when one of us needs the other, our waves will come crashing down in unison.

Families, siblings, they are essential, and each bond is unique, something that can’t be explained in mere paragraphs. For me, these bonds would take novels to even brush the surface of the love I feel for each person in my tiny army. My wonderful parents would need trilogies all to themselves, a story for another day. However, as this tiny circle starts to grow, adding brother in laws, significant others, nephews and nieces, there isn’t a single thing in this world I am more thankful for than my tiny little army. Sisters, biological or other.

Ready, Set, Run!

Sports can either be the best outlet for struggling teens, or a life sentence seemingly designed specifically to torture already struggling pre-teens. For me, it was always the latter. In middle school, I was the girl who huddled in the back during dodge ball games, and wore skirts to school on the days we had gym class in hopes that meant I might be asked to sit out instead of running the dreaded four laps before whatever game the gym teacher chose to subject us to that day.

However, once I made the transition from eighth grader to Freshman, it became apparent to me that I wasn’t going to be able to get through High School without gym credits. So, in true middle child fashion (a story for another time), I decided that following in my big sisters footsteps was the best option. For me, this meant joining the Cross Country running team. While physical activity still wasn’t on the top of my love to do list, this seemed like the perfect option. At least there would be no complicated rules to follow or expensive equipment to purchase.

At the start of the fall sports season, I showed up to the track with my newly purchased running sneakers, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, ready for anything. What I didn’t expect however, was to quickly fall in love with something that a few weeks earlier, looked like a death sentence. The moment my feet started pounding the earth, I knew I was in trouble. Running had been living in my veins, only to be awoken by what I thought was some stupid school rule meant to waste my time.

I was no where near the fastest runner on the team, and there were races I didn’t even want to start. There were practices I dreaded and days when Cross Country running was the last thing on my mind. There were also days that running saved me. It served as an escape, a shelter from the outside world that seemed determined to break me down. My team quickly became a family, the burning in my limbs and chest a welcomed pain that I even anticipated.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The one thing I hid from and actively avoided for years soon became one of the only things I looked forward to during my High School life. And unexpectedly, it also opened my eyes to a long road of learning to try new things, to step out of my comfort zone and stop being so closed minded.

Who would have known that a single High School sport could do all of that? Perhaps dozens of teachers and other various adults, but no one that I would have actually listened to as a sixteen year old girl.

Now, three years post High School, those running sneakers long ago discarded, Cross Country running is something I will never regret. Even the races after which I threw up and passed out, will always be moments of my High School career that I will hold dear.

So on that note I encourage you to take risks, to leap into the dark and do the one thing that scares you the most. Since High School, joining the Cross Country team has went into the books as one of the smallest risks I have now taken, but will always be the most important. It was the risk that started them all.

The Move

A couple of months ago I moved away from home for the first time to move in with my boyfriend, hours away from my hometown. Many people told me I was crazy – I didn’t and still won’t argue that point. Other people told me I was being stupid. Very few supported my decision. That was okay, because in my heart, I knew I was making the right choice. I didn’t need everyone in my life to believe in me – I just needed to believe in me.

Now, two months later, it’s time for me to reflect. Moving was the hardest thing I have done in my short life so far. I still have days when I struggle and I question what I am doing. On these days, I pick up the phone and I call my family, and they remind me that they are my strength. I recognize that I am lucky in this way. When I don’t know if I can hold myself up, I always know that my family will, no matter how far away they are. This is a fact that made moving possible for me.

While moving was hard, it was also a dream come true. After over two years of living long distance in a military relationship, it was easy to believe that we would never get our time to exist in the same zip code for longer than a couple of weeks. Now I get to wake up a majority of my days next to the man that I love. Some days I still have to pinch myself, convince myself that this is my reality.

As with anything in life, moving has had it’s ups and it’s downs. The difficulties that came along with moving in with a man in the military were very well known to me before I made the move, but they still hit me like a ton of bricks. However, I can still say two months later, in the midst of the hardest time since I have moved, that I would not change the decision that I made.

Life is short. I am young. And I am happy.

Loving him is like breathing

Long distance relationships are easy

Like climbing a ladder with no rungs is not hard

Why would someone climb a ladder with no rungs you say? – Why would someone choose to live with their heart beating outside of their chests when the task of existing is already so defeating –

But when he kisses me

When I kiss him

When phone screens become lips and

Emojis are whispers in the dark

Long distance relationships are easy

Like getting lost in the pages of your favorite book

You would not just stop reading

Your favorite book simple

Because you can only read

The hard copy once a year

Why should this be any different?

You say

Wouldn’t it be easier to be with

Someone here – someone you don’t have to wait on –

Life is not a movie and

I would rather have a love I am

Sure of over stretching miles

That turn into tumultuous waves

Than a bland love I have to question

In the silences between the dark and the light

No

Long distance relationships are easy

Like breathing

Or jumping into the wind

Trusting the arms below to break

Your fall

 

Chan Eliza