Rome, New York - 1970 or so

In the past I have often been embarrassed when I get excited or passionate about something. Especially when it is about something that others might not “get” or when others around me don’t seem to be quite as strongly affected. One of the things that I have been working on is getting more comfortable with this aspect of myself. I am an ENFP (otherwise known as the Idealist personality type) so I come by it naturally:

Idealists (NFs), as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. 

All Idealists share the following core characteristics:

  • Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
  • Idealists pride themselves on being loving, kindhearted, and authentic.
  • Idealists tend to be giving, trusting, spiritual, and they are focused on personal journeys and human potentials.
  • Idealists make intense mates, nurturing parents, and inspirational leaders.
Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. 

Reading this description was a big “aha” moment for me…before that I just thought that I was weird to care so much about things and to be so fascinated by things that others might describe as “naval gazing.” It is uncanny how accurate this description is of me. For some reason, seeing that there was a whole "personality type" that described me (which meant that there were other people out there just like me) helped me realize that maybe these aspects of myself did not have to be seen as a negative or as something that needed to be changed or "fixed".

As I get older I realize how much we are conditioned by society to conform to particular ways of being. Or maybe I was just more sensitive to it. I have always been in awe of people who "march to the beat of their own drummer" - who can say to hell with what others think, I am who I am. The funny thing is that this desire to not stand out did not stop me from choosing alternative paths (especially once I became a parent and started putting more thought into what and why I was doing what I was doing). It just meant that I had a lot of internal angst and self-doubt about it.

And even as I write this, I feel a bit vulnerable...I can hear the voice in my head telling me to get over myself already. That other people don't over-think their lives so much. They just live them. But  I am also starting to hear that voice that says, that is ok. Not everyone is going to get me and certainly not everyone is going to agree with me. But that does not mean that the way I look at the world has no value. Interestingly enough, I think that the person who is hardest to convince of this fact is myself.

One of the things that I hope that the boys get out of homeschooling is the benefit of having less pressure to live up to certain expectations. Don't get me wrong, expectations can be useful things...but only if they are driven by the person's goals and desires, not generic society or family ones. There seems to be so much hoop jumping and competition driving education today. Or maybe it has always been that way and just seems worse today.

I hope that in a way I am sheltering my boys from some of the effects of this. Obviously I can't shelter them completely, nor do I want to. But at least I can make it so they have a firm foundation about who they are on which to stand as they learn to navigate this aspect of life. There are no guarantees, obviously. But I figure it is worth a shot.

 

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