The following passages, which I call my adopted manifestos, struck a chord in me when I came across them.
“I Will Disappoint You” by Rachael Rice expresses how I felt in relation to pretty much anyone I interacted with, for most of my life. By making this one of my manifestos, I acknowledge that as a result of my horrifically traumatic childhood, and because I always had ADD/ADHD, was highly sensitive, and introverted, I have indeed disappointed many people. When I found this amazing essay in 2013, I was already well on my way to fully accepting that these were characteristics of my personality and temperament – not at all an easy task when one has lived one’s entire life in western culture. Only at the age of 44 did I learn that I was an introvert (INFP), a highly sensitive person (HSP) and had ADD/ADHD (I learned this 3 years ago at the age of 49). Before this “enlightenment,” I lived an entire lifetime feeling deeply ashamed of myself for not “measuring up.” I didn’t fit into Western society anymore than a square peg could fit in a round hole.
Because I present as an extrovert (outgoing, comfortable in front of crowds, gregarious, etc.), it might seem like it’s easy for me to be “on.” While it does come naturally, it does not come easy. I score as an INFJ. But I am not a classic introvert. Maye I’m an ambivert. I’m definitely an HSP. I have complex PTSD and other superpowers disguised as “mental illness.” And I’m more than ok with that.
I’m a natural performer, I love public speaking, I am extremely creative and productive. It is not effortless. There is a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes self care, which, if neglected, will result in my nervous system tanking, cigarettes being smoked, french fries getting plowed into my gullet, and me morphing into Grumpy Cat.
I practice exquisite self care so I can do my creative work in the world.
What does that look like? Well, on a good day, it means…
I spend 80% of my time alone.
I need lots of white space on either side of any social engagement.
I say no all the time. Because saying no to you means I’m saying YES to something else. I need my boundaries, and I do my best to be clear about them. That way I don’t flake or have to make up some bullshit about being under the weather (or even getting sick) because I said “yes” in order to avoid discomfort. And it means when I am present, I am there 100%, with all of myself, without resentment.
I’m not afraid to disappoint people, or have them be uncomfortable.
Also, I’m willing to be uncomfortable. NO ONE EVER DIED FROM BEING UNCOMFORTABLE. I’d rather be a little uncomfortable now than in some kind of pain later.
If I don’t feel like doing it tonight, I probably won’t feel like doing it later.
I ask for what I need and do my best to not be so precious about it that I inconvenience people. I just ask, and let the space hang there, and I don’t fill the space with apologies, explanations and chatter (see above on being uncomfortable).
I let other people take care of themselves, I don’t rescue them (anymore).
I don’t spend time with people who don’t support me. That might include old friends, friends of my partner, family, or people I “should” like. It’s ok to let people go, and not chase the ones who aren’t magnetized by you. I go where the love is.
I rarely take on new friends, I scarcely have time for the ones I have now. If you want to see me, come to one of my shows. Or don’t. I probably wouldn’t. I’ll be thrilled to see you. But I won’t be disappointed if you don’t come.
I don’t give two shits about what anyone thinks about me. Because, mostly, they’re not.
I avoid multitasking. It’s inefficient and stresses me out.
Feeling good [today] is more important than looking good [in the future].
I need a minimum of 9-10 hours of sleep every night. I take a lot of baths. I eat real food, that does not come in plastic, some of which I grow myself. I spend time with animals, and thinking about animals. I spend time with plants, and thinking about plants.
I’m clear on how I want to feel, and I know the things I can do to feel the ways I want to feel. Mostly that means being contemplative and making things with my hands. Occasionally I like to sing in front of people or teach something to a group. But not very often. I probably won’t go to the party after. I need the white space, so I can shine bright and not burn out.
My primary relationship is not with another person, it is with the creative process. It will almost always come first. Unless there’s pie. Then pie will come first.
On a bad day…
I tend to buckle after the second or third hard thing in one day. I can generally handle one or two hard things (an argument, a check bouncing, a cold coming on) in one day. But after that, I have to put myself in a timeout as I get overwhelmed. I become a hazard to other living creatures and need to lie down or watch a comforting movie or read some Lawrence Ferlinghetti to get my mojo back.
Bad shit that happens to me gets run through a bunch of reality check filters apart from my own mind, which is unreliable.
I wrote down a list of 25 things that 100% of the time make me feel better. I keep it in my wallet and pull it out when I get self-care amnesia.
I might seem sharp or bitchy sometimes. If you overstep my boundaries, you may see my claws. Goes with the territory. I’m willing to hear feedback about how my behavior affects other people. And please know, I’m workin’ on it.
By Rachael Rice
- Right Brain Terrain (Frederick Terall)
- The Cult of Done (Bre Pettis)
- The Holstee Manifesto
- Work is not a Job (Catharina Bruns)
- Do The Work (Steven Pressfield)