A lot of “introvert problems” stem from the idea that we should not act, talk, think or be a certain way. Most of us have been told implicitly or directly that it’s not okay to like being alone, or to be a daydreamer, or to be anything other than the status quo. As a result, we stop giving ourselves permission to fulfill our true desires and be our most authentic selves.
Have you ever heard someone say something like, “she’s Oprah Winfrey, she can do whatever she wants,” or “he’s Donald Trump, he can do whatever he wants”? Isn’t it funny how we think that people who are rich, famous, or otherwise powerful have earned permission to do what they want. The truth is that these people are powerful because they gave themselves permission to fulfill their heart’s desires long before anyone else did.
I recently watched Maya Angelou say in an interview with Oprah, “God loves me … me, Maya Angelou … I can do anything, and do it well. Any good thing, I can do it. That’s why I am who I am.” When you look at her long list of diverse achievements, it is apparent that she really believes that she can do anything. You don’t have to believe in God to be inspired by Angelou’s words.
The key point to recognize is that Maya Angelou didn’t accept the life other people told her she should live. She didn’t wait for someone to give her permission to live her dreams. She knew that she was entitled to be her own woman and live her own life.
Many of us could not even fathom living life in this way. We are reliant on other people to tell us what we can and cannot do. Try saying the phrase, “I am [insert your name], I can do whatever I want.” How did it feel to say those words? It might have felt strange, ridiculous, arrogant, selfish, or even blasphemous. But why?
It is because we are very uncomfortable with our own inherent power. This is a shame, because until we acknowledge our power, we cannot claim it. Instead, we’ll be twiddling our thumbs, waiting for others to direct our path, until we realize that our time is up.
A few months ago, I read a powerful article by a palliative care nurse about the top regrets people have on their deathbeds. The number one regret was, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” That pretty much says it all, but just to drive home my point, here is one more thought to chew on:
We are living in an incredibly exciting time in history. Through social media and the Internet, the authority of gatekeepers has diminished. Gatekeepers are people who guard the gate to the things we want in life. They essentially give us permission (or not) to go forward. They can take on the form of bosses, teachers, government employees, or anyone else who tells us that we can’t do something because we don’t have the right background, credentials, or status.
Starting this blog has given me a glimpse into how social media is stomping out the role of gatekeepers. Thousands of like-minded people come to read what I share on Introvert Spring every week. This is not because I have a fancy blogging certificate or because some stuffy gatekeeper told me I could write. It is because I gave myself permission to be, write, talk, behave and live in a way that is fulfilling to me.
As introverts, we have an advantage in that our love of quietness and introspection gives us ample access to our inner voice. We are one step closer to knowing what a life true to ourselves really looks like. Now, all we have to do is take hold of the things we desire.
Remember, you are [insert name here], you can do whatever you want.