Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Facebook: For Introverts?

Years ago, I had the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator administered to me and scored by a professional. I turned out to be an INFJ: Introverted iNtuative Feeling Judging (read more about this personality type HERE). This has always "fit" and resonated with me, as much today as it did when I took it over a decade ago. I have known that I'm an introvert as long as I've known what the word meant. And before that, I knew I was shy. But those who know me today find it hard to believe that I was once terrified by the thought of speaking in front of a group, or that I once asked a guy on a date using a note because I was too scared to talk to him when I was in college. My husband doesn't even believe that I'm an introvert, because he says I'm too good with people.

While we can learn certain skills, like public speaking, our basic nature doesn't change. Once an introvert, always an introvert. And introverts can fool you by being very good with people. Here's an easy question to ask yourself in order to tell the difference: When you're tired and drained, how do you recharge? What gives you energy: staying home, or going out? If attending a social gathering and being around people sounds energizing, you're an extrovert. If it sounds draining, you're an introvert, simple as that. It doesn't mean introverts don't enjoy gathering in a group, they're just not likely to do it after a particularly long week. 
As Introverts (I), INFJs need to have some “alone time” every once in a while; otherwise their internal energy reserves will get depleted really quickly. If this happens, the INFJ may surprise everybody around them by withdrawing from all their activities for a while, and since other people usually see INFJs as always friendly and sociable, this can leave them both surprised and concerned.
So, what does introversion look like in the social media world? I think it can look exactly the same as extroversion. It depends more on how open a person is. Openness is one of the "Big Five" personality dimensions, and I definitely have it. I may be an introvert through and through, but I sure do like to share. If you know me, you know that. And even if you don't know me, you probably also know that!



I was talking to one of my co-workers yesterday, a teacher, and she asked how the fertility treatment was coming along. But she asked in sort of a tentative way, mindful of the fact it is hard for some people to talk about struggles such as this. I was hoping to start the injectible medication last month, but my estrogen levels were too high, and he decided to have me wait a month. Not only did I not mind her question, I welcomed it. Oh, don't ever worry about that, I'm really open was my response. And I meant it.

Sharing on social media is much easier than doing it in the "real" world, but it can be a doorway for very meaningful real world conversations that may not otherwise take place. It's a way to stay connected and garner support and encouragement from people all around the country and the even world, if you want it to be. It's perfect for introverts, like me, who may not have the energy to go out and be around everyone, but still want to stay connected.

Some people don't want everyone, like their co-workers knowing what they do in their free time. But I don't mind. Partially because I have nothing to hide, but also because the energy it takes to conceal things is more than it is to just put them out there. Again, I'm speaking for myself. Everyone is different, and I respect that there isn't one "right" way to be. Some people would cope much better, for example, without people knowing about their Mom's cancer, or IVF treatment. But I like talking about it. Hearing that others have been down the same road makes me feel less alone. It's the first time my Mom has had cancer, but she's not the first Mom to get cancer.

Sometimes people speak of facebook or social media as if it is inherently evil or a waste of time, but it's all in how you use it. At the end of the day, there are a lot of positive things in my life that would not have happened if it weren't facebook, and my openness on there.

When I moved to Orange County in 2006 and knew no one, I used facebook to meet other runners. One of those runners, Delia, was a bridesmaid at my wedding and now in my closest circle of friends.

I would not have raised money to quickly move Mom and Dad out to Orange County right after Mom was diagnosed. We had depleted our summer funds and all our savings had been spent on deposits for the wedding. Yet through spreading the word on facebook, we were able to find her apartment and pay the rent/security deposit while she was still in the hospital. I had several people that I had never met contribute very generous amounts of money. I cant tell you how good it felt to take her by her new place as soon as she was released from the hospital after a two week stay ad brain surgery. 

Then there are the countless words of support and encouragement for Mom over the past few months, many of which elicit her trademark Awwww when I read them to her. Having never really gone through anything more traumatic than a breakup since the inception of facebook, I was blown away (and still am) by the level of genuine support and caring that comes through when times are really tough.

I also would not have had family from Ireland at my wedding! Not only did I find them and get to know them through facebook, but I learned that they were traveling to California for another wedding around the same time through my 2nd cousin Pip's status updates, and invited them to extend their trip. This just wouldn't happen through the occasional email or letter writing. Mom was able to see her cousin Alan for the first time since she was (ready for this?) 18 years old.

Family reunion, brought to you by facebook

And then there's the fun things, like meeting Elizabeth, a lawyer from Maine. I had started following her blog 50 for Billy about her plan to run a marathon in every state in honor and memory of her father. She was in town for another reason, we met and  hiked the Hollywood sign. Along the way, we had some pretty meaningful conversations about family and the commonalities we shared. 

Or, this sweet note, left on my wall yesterday morning:

I just have to tell you because I'm kinda fb staking you! Haha! Although I've never actually met you, I really admire you as a person a lot... You seem so kind and genuine, and you can tell you are loved by many! Your pictures tell so many stories... I love your positive outlook on everything in life, despite all your battles your going through... I think that Everytime I see your posts, and just wanted to share! You and your momma are in my prayers! 
And let's not forget how I initially connected with Nathan after we talked at the work mixer. As soon as I went out to the parking lot, I friend requested him. He sat on it for a few days before finally accepting my request and I sent him this very first message:12 November 2011 17:23
 Thanks for accepting my friend request. I was worried there for a bit. How was tree house building?  
So, suffice to say, I'm not going to be giving up facebook anytime soon. I'll be sharing and blogging through all of life's ups and downs because that's what gets me through. And if I happen to be feeling tired and drained from a busy week, I can still feel connected when I'm in my pajamas. 



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