I turned 30 this summer. I've been reflecting on a lot of things about my life in the last year, but one thing I've thought about most is how difficult it is for me let people into my life. Whenever I hint at this with friends and acquaintances or mention that I consider myself an introvert, people act really surprised. I have so many people in my life. I have always been pretty social and when I'm around people I tend to engage. Nonetheless, the fact remains that at the turn of my third decade, I find myself reflecting on the lack of input from others into my life.
I've started to see this as a significant problem, particularly when it comes to my relationships with older women. Simply put - I do not know any older women who regularly speak into my life apart from my mother. Thankfully, I have an amazing mother with whom I can speak openly. She is the greatest source of advice and counsel in my life and I would never ever want to replace her. But surely, there should be more women than my mother speaking into my life? While she is the wisest woman I know, that doesn't mean only her experiences are valid in regards to my life. We are made to live in community that includes our family relationships, but also extends beyond it.
As I've started to think more about this over the past year, I've had a difficult time figuring out why I feel like such a lone wolf. Is it my fault that there aren't older women investing in my life? Am I not putting myself into situations where I could be meeting such women? Am I not listening to whatever women already are in my life?
While I truly do not know the answer to these questions, I do keep coming back to a few thoughts. Recently, my husband told me I am the most intense person he's ever known. This was not a criticism and it came up as a passing comment in an unrelated conversation. But it's stuck with me because while ten years ago such a comment would have been crushing to me as someone desperate to be liked and enjoyed by all, these days I just kind of nodded my head and said, I know. I know I'm intense. I have a lot of thoughts and opinions and I stand by them. I don't mind being an intense person.
But I also have started to realize that it gives people a really false understanding of who I am. It's funny how the offhand comments of the ones you love most stick with you forever. Another observation made by husband in the last year truly surprised me. He told me that though I may be an interesting person in my "public" personality - intensity and passion usually ratcheted up to level ten - it's in my weakest moments that I'm compellingly beautiful. I laughed when he first said this, and I still think it's a funny thought, but when I consider his observations in the light of sensed lack of older women investing in my life, I realize that most people around me probably have absolutely no sense of who I really am. I wear my passions on my sleeves, but I don't wear deepest fears and insecurities and hopes on my sleeves.
Women love to help people. Women love to help women. But I think women really love to help women who are open with their needs. Women don't usually like "intense" women. I don't usually like intense women and I'm not sure I would much like myself if I were not me!
So I'm just going to make this general statement. Don't assume that anyone has their stuff together. Don't assume that intensity and independence mean a lack of desire for input. I can't tell you how many times in the many cities I've lived in as an adult that I have desperately longed for an older sister to simply ask me a question or two to see how I'm doing because I couldn't get past my own personality to bring up my struggles.