I’ve been in a funk lately. An I-don’t-want-to-leave-the-house-or-socialize-with-anybody kind of funk. I have plenty of reasons to be in a funk: the typical stressors of balancing work with family, the added stress of Maddy’s challenges, the non-stop appointments that cut into my work and home time, the recent passing of my grandmother (who, despite being 92 was way too young to leave us and caught me totally off-guard… and boy, we are missing her so much), constant pop culture and news stories that, frankly, have me not wanting to be part of this planet some days, friends going through tough times, working 15 months without time off, all topped off by the self-inflicted over-scheduling of this summer.
My list might look different from yours, but I’m sure you’ve been there. I think that funks are part of the universal human experience.
As an INFP, I am prone to these funks. As an idealist and perfectionist, I’m constantly battling the fact that things just don’t measure up the way I’d like them to. I easily absorb what is happening around me, whether it be others’ moods or what I hear on the media (let’s be serious, it’s usually the portrayal of the status quo in the media that gets me). It can be overwhelming, and sometimes I need to escape the bombardment of my inner self.
I sometimes feel like I’m sitting on a pendulum, swinging about widely, not sure exactly where it is that I’m hoping to land. And you know what, when you don’t know where you’re trying to land, or what you need to land safely, it’s hard to meet your own needs. The first step of meeting your own needs is knowing what it is that you need.
I have spent two years, with some success, focusing most of my mental energy on figuring out how to meet Maddy’s needs. But it has become very apparent that I have been neglecting my own needs (yes, yes, I know… even with all the reminders from my lovely friends and family). These last couple of weeks I have been trying to explore what it is that I need in my life to de-funk-ify…. and really, nothing earth shattering has come to me. I think there is a lot more that I need to understand about myself… I’m just not sure where to find it yet.
I do know a few things though. I know that I picked the absolute perfect partner in life when I married Eric. He gets me. He gets me. He gets me like nobody else gets me. I assume this to be true in most partnerships, so I trust that you get what I’m saying. He is so patient and supportive, and even though he might not understand exactly what happens in my mind, he loves me unconditionally, and helps me navigate when I need the help. He is also quite receptive to, “I don’t want to talk,” or “can you leave me alone?” on particularly grumpy days, which I am truly appreciative of. I am also very lucky that he lets me be my ridiculous and silly self from time to time… because, hey, that’s just who I am.
I also know that a cup of hot tea and a good book are comforting to me. I know that dancing, biking, pilates, yoga, and a number of other physical activities make me feel whole. I know that putting my feelings out into the universe take a load off of me (and I know it’s a lot easier for me to write my feelings than talk them out). I want to help people. I love learning, have a lot left to learn, and want to keep learning. I want to be challenged. Knitting (and more recently crocheting) are relaxing for me. Sewing is a nice way to spend a few hours when I’m feeling motivated. I like to curl up and watch movies. I want to challenge the status quo. I like spending time with friends. I like to be alone, too. I feel better after I cry. I feel even better after I laugh. I want the world to be better than it is.
I need to learn to turn my brain off – to eliminate the awful things I hear on the news, to forget about that project at work that has got me stumped, and to be present, really present. I need to learn to embrace my vulnerability better. I need to find balance in my life, and find a way to maintain that balance. I need to pace myself.
I’ve done a lot of thinking, and I know a few more things than I did a month ago, but I know it’s just the tip of the iceberg. I anticipate that one’s measure of happiness is a constantly moving target, and so rediscovering how to meet your needs to maintain optimum happiness has to be a work in progress.
The one thing I am still really struggling with is what is the best way to find meaning in my life – through work? volunteering? hobbies? family? And, how do I prioritize these things in the optimal way so that I feel that I’m using my talents to make the world a better place, while at the same time nurturing myself and my family? How do I push forward to try to make change without burning myself out? Where is that elusive perfect balance, and how do I achieve it?
Eric told me a long time ago that he once read that INFPs are pre-disposed to a life of dissatisfaction, because of their idealism. I think he also said that at some point, INFPs just realize that they have to settle in life and so they do. That totally freaks me out in a that’s-too-overwhelming-to-consider-and-so-I’ll-just-continue-to-ignore-your-comments-and-shoot-for-the-stars kind of way. But, I do think that one way to battle the constant let-down of the ideal visions I have somehow conjured is to meet my own needs better. One day at a time…