Bettering Yourself Doesn't Mean Muting Yourself

This is going to be a bit of a self-indulgent post, but anyone who expresses themselves in form of art—be it writing, cooking, dancing, singing, painting—is indulging a bit in themselves with the byproduct of improving other people’s lives, as well. So I’m rolling with it.

Perhaps that disclaimer is the perfect lead-in to what I want to say today. You see, I apologize for and preface who I am all the time. I am an intense person. I am exceedingly intentional with my time, my words, and my energy. Except when I’m hungry or tired, at which point I mean 0% of what I say or do.

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This intensity sometimes makes me feel like I’m too much to handle. A color that needs to be muted in order to be more appealing, or a knife so sharp that it’s a bit impressive but also kind of daunting.

Add that to the fact that I’m an open book by nature, and it’s easy to wonder if others think I’m blinding. Annoying. Over-the-top.

My standards for communication, love, and work-ethic are impossibly high, so sometimes I get tired and have none at all. Other times I’m a self-righteous monster. 

I am self-motivated to the point of neuroticism. It’s what makes me stick with this blog or be a huge asset as an employee. But if you replace my autonomy with micromanagement or menial tasks that require no intelligence, I shut down and do nothing.

I want to talk through problems. Brushing something under the rug eats away at me to the point that I can’t sleep or eat or occasionally breathe.  

Sometimes my desire for loving, beneficial confrontation turns into a tornado of pent-up frustrations if set off in the wrong moment, and I attack. But then I feel truly calm and ready to talk, apologize, and move forward only 24 hours, 30 minutes, or 30 seconds later. At that point, I’m capable of the most rational, non-defensive conversations in existence. Most of the time I can’t even keep up with myself. The only person who has fully figured out how to handle me is my husband. Bless him. 

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At times, I want to talk for hours. Other times, I am a total recluse.

People think I’m outgoing, but I am exhausted in nearly every social interaction and almost always looking for a way out. 

But sometimes I’m totally relaxed and love being around people.

I can be friends with just about anyone, but only if we’ve had the opportunity for a good one-on-one conversation. I’ll share nearly anything with anyone.  

I can feel like I love someone after a single interaction or maybe just a second-hand story.

I give everyone the benefit of the doubt until there is a repeated problem.

 I overthink everything. It’s draining. But it’s also why I love so much in my life—my marriage, my friendships, my house, my Chipotle order…I put thought and time into how to make them great. And they are.

I cry when I’m happy, sad, angry, or someone wins a reality TV competition.

I am confident in my beliefs, but am terrified of being misjudged so I often don’t share them. But when I do share them, I’m passionate. Yet overly compliant.

I make fun of myself, but don’t have particularly thick skin.

I stalk people on social media like it’s my job, not even to self-compare or be nosy, but just because I can and I’m good at it. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I am simultaneously unconcerned with how I look, while also hyper-aware of how I look. Some days I truly don’t care that I am not a small and cute pregnant lady, and some days I don’t want to go in public.

All of this to say, I go through life trying to represent a congruent version of myself, but I fail constantly because I’m the least congruent person there is. I have my unwavering morals and standards and personality traits, but they rarely reveal themselves the same way every day.

I’m trying to become more “okay” with who I am. That I am “a lot.” That I am not obnoxious just because I’m an open book or have a big personality or can be unpredictable in my emotions. I will never stop trying to better myself, but bettering myself and muting myself are two different things. It won’t happen overnight, but I need to be okay with the fact that I’m not Millennial Pink. I’m more Katy Perry Pink, and that’s just the way I was created.

Shannon Leyko