Friday, January 25, 2019

From the Stage to the Page

Photo by Jorg Schubert.
I don't want to write too much about this because I'm trying to be positive. However, I want to document a shift that I'm experiencing at midlife.

I am shifting away from being an outgoing person in social settings to being largely absent.

Why am I doing this?

Well, over the last few years, I have been getting fairly consistent feedback that I'm "annoying."

It's taken me a while to process this because people used to tell me that I was charming, charismatic, enthusiastic, and entertaining. For decades, I presented as the ENFJ (teacher) on the Myers-Brigges personality test. When I went to social events, I would get people talking to each other, I'd tell stories, I'd suggest activities, and I'd get people laughing.

My perception is that I really haven't changed that much--except that I'm closer to 60.

Now when I go to social events and try to initiate conversation, I'm met with eye rolling and silence.

I've heard older women talk about turning invisible. I never thought that would happen to me because I'm outgoing. However, after experiencing a lot of push back, I'm ready to disappear from the spotlight. Well, more accurately, I'm ready to acknowledge that I've been shoved off the stage.

But I don't want to focus on the losses of this shift. I am working hard to reframe this shift as a transition instead of a failure.

Instead of being the life of the party, I'm ready to assert myself through more introverted strategies.

As I child, I functioned more like the INFP, the poet. When I was in grade school, I had imaginary friends, I spent recess by myself, and I spent more time daydreaming during class than listening to the teacher or passing notes with other students. I read a lot, wrote, and created art.

Since last fall, I'm spending more time reading and writing and less time talking. I was tired of leaving social settings feeling battered.

Message received. I'm shifting my energy away from social settings and onto the page.