Confessions of a Closet Introvert…
Guest Blogger: Jodi Guilbault
“This seasonal feeling that rips through us all like a current is undeniable, powerful and seems to make an appearance in the just the nick (pun intended) of time every year.”
Maybe it’s in the eggnog…or hot buttered rum or more likely…our low fat peppermint soy lattes with extra whip. We’re all looking for a whiff of what’s now acutely in the air and, just this once, we should all inhale!
It happens around this time every year—where inherently, we start to experience a unified shift of kindness, happiness and calm. As if almost on cue and like clockwork everybody is suddenly on their best behavior at the same exact time without even being asked. Strangers smile at each other a little longer, insist you cut in front of them at the store, exchange holiday pleasantries and cheerfully hold the door for you.
It’s not about which holiday you celebrate or to which core beliefs you subscribe. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s never been a right or wrong answer in the multiple choices of holiday celebrations: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or opting out.No one’s “personal choice” is more significant than another’s. It’ what feels right to you and what’s true—for you. It’s about the symbolism of what was, how the holidays make you feel inside and where you let that journey take you. We don’t need a license for it, we just need to graciously accept it, and pass it on. That’s the magic formula.
During the holiday season, we’re often transported back to a vivid childhood memory that resonates viscerally and its hold is still so powerful—regardless of our age. It’s a deep, personal symbolism that consumes us. All of our senses are overloaded, and that spirit moves us when we least expect it. Somehow, the speed of life eclipses that feeling throughout the year and stays shrouded in our never-ending to-do lists, play dates, family and work commitments. No one would argue that today we feel more stressed, rushed, forced, obligated and sometimes even hollow compared to decades ago when we first came into the world. In many ways, we’re mere shadows of ourselves, and at best, an exaggerated figment of our own imaginations on Facebook and Twitter. This doesn’t make us bad people. It simply makes us human beings on 24-hour display across an array of uber-public social platforms. And, we all know one who is just a post away from a full deck! This is the result of being ‘over-connected’ and trying to acclimate with your sanity intact in the social age. And this, my friends, is the true price of admission to be part of the human race in 2012.
Because of this, we’re longing to get back to our happy place this time of year. Our pace has become so fast and furious we’ve gotten used to feeling overwhelmed and depleted and now consider it the new normal! Today when we look around, it’s easy to see our core beliefs are fragmented and far from universal, even within our smallest and closest circles. But our ultimate destination remains the same during the holidays.
We may take different paths to get there—some go traditional, some go religious, some are drawn to the holiday social scene, Black Friday doorbusters, Christmas tree lightings, music, cuisine, parties, family gatherings, or reuniting with friends we now only see once a year. Some just want to go home—back to the place where this feeling all began. Some take the scenic route to get there because the road less traveled can be confusing and dark if you only go there once a year. There’s one common thread this time of year: We all just want to get there. “There” is how you define it and how you allow it to make you feel.
The holiday season brings us back to a time when things were simpler, quieter (in our heads, online and on the streets). Before ‘The Internet of Things’ took a front row seat in our daily lives and demanded every last bit of our sanity and attention. Today, everyone is always talking. Whether we meant to or not, many of us transitioned into full-blooded narcissists along the way. In case you never made the conversion don’t worry, there’s still time and even an app for that!
Somewhere along the line, we had one (thousand) too many posts or tweets that nobody read. Yet, it’ still our favorite addiction. Sadly, those posts and tweets didn’t fulfill us or make us better human beings. They certainly didn’t pay the mortgage. Today there’s no shortage of platforms to remind us how important, or unimportant, we all are.
Over the years, we’ve hopped on a new path that inadvertently distanced us from who we once were in a simpler time. While some days it feels like we are one step away from being an android, there truly is a longing to go back to the time when it was quiet, when we were coddled, safe, happy and adored. This seasonal feeling that rips through us all like a current is undeniable, powerful and seems to make an appearance in the just the nick (pun intended) of time every year. Sometimes…it’s even our salvation.
So go ahead and sing “Little Drummer Boy” at the top of your lungs if you want. Download some new Christmas music. Take the trip to Grandma’s and share in her traditions. Spend time with friends and family, go to church, see The Nutcracker, attend parties, help the homeless, donate your time, clothes and money, go green (and red), see your nephew’s Christmas performance, decorate your tree, spike your eggnog, make your favorite batch of fudge (just say no to fruitcake!), pay it forward and make it count. Do whatever you need to do to get there. Just get there.
Whatever feeling, emotion or memory gives you the permission to be happy, slow down and take that trip back in time, use it. Savor it. Become it. Just be present in the moment. Don’t miss it because you’re taking pictures on your iPhone that no one bothers to look at anyway because they’re doing the same thing. Embrace it. If only for the season, a week or a day. The trip will be well worth it. And if we all accidentally committed to it on the same day, just think of how amazing the energy would be in that moment.
So go on. Tap into it. You can see it, feel it and touch it. The only thing you need is a couple of minutes, your imagination and a willing heart.
Silicon Valley Communications Executive,
Writer and Closet Introvert