Sometimes I'm an extrovert. I love being with people -
talking to groups, teaching classes, laughing with my friends and
family - my life is full because of these experiences and
But sometimes I'm an introvert. I have days when I need
space and quiet and I crave being alone. I don't always
understand why, but I try to allow, accept, and trust that there
I used to hide the introverted part of myself. I received
more kudos for my extroverted nature and I wasn't always
comfortable with comments like, "what's wrong, are you OK, you
don't seem like yourself….."
Being quiet and contemplative seemed to cause concern, so I
worked hard to be social and talkative…basically I would just
So instead of owning that sometimes I needed space or alone
time, I'd get annoyed at people who unknowingly "infringed" on my
need for quiet - the person who knocked on the door, the neighbor
who wanted to chat, or the friend that called on the phone.
How dare they bother me! Don't they know that right
now I don't have the energy to pretend!
But really, how would they know?
I taught them that I am available 24/7, not only available, but
constantly talkative, upbeat and available. I have shown them
that I have all the time and energy in the world.
The inability to not accept myself as someone who needs
downtime, someone who doesn't always love small talk, or someone
who needs space was too much for me, so I'd pretend and then
secretly blame others for forcing me to pretend.
But the beauty of age and self awareness is that I finally
realize the silliness of this….it's my responsibility to
offer myself authentically and teach people how to treat me.
Sometimes I want to talk with people, and sometimes I want to be
by myself. Sometimes I want to carpool, and sometimes I want
to drive alone. Sometimes I want to go to a movie with
friends, and sometimes I want to be in a theater all by myself.
And now, after some practice, I can do this without making up
excuses, or lying, or most important, without feeling that there is
something wrong with me.
And honestly, pretending is just tiring and it kind of sucks -
pretending to care when I don't or that I don't when I do.
Pretending to be someone I am not, pretending that everything is OK
when it isn't. Pretending takes a toll on energy, spirit, and
Which is why I take this into consideration when I parent my
girls…I don't want them to "work" at pretending around me.
Like me they have many different sides, and they need space to
be who they are. If they are quiet, it doesn't always mean
that I have something to stress or worry about. If they are grumpy,
it doesn't mean they are ungrateful or disrespectful.
To tell them they shouldn't be angry, quiet, introspective, sad,
can be a real disservice to their inner processing. To expect
them to always be playful or smiling isn't a realistic
But if they are happy all the time, then I get to feel good
and I get to be the great parent with the constantly happy
kid…..oh wait, I think I'm getting caught in that cycle of
So really, it's a lesson in tolerance - self tolerance and
parental tolerance. Can I tolerate the potential
disappointment or lack of acceptance when I need to be alone?
Can I be OK if my kids are feeling quiet, frustrated or
And can we all understand that this is authentic expression, the
natural balance of life, and a normal part of being a human
For me I guess it comes down to yet another act of self
acceptance. Some days I must sit in the discomfort of not being who
people think I should be, but I know in my heart this is a good
thing.....because in these moments, I am fully embracing who I
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.
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