scares you“It’s a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you’ve forgotten about.” ~ Alan Ball

As I wrote last week, I’m growing to accept being an introvert. But that doesn’t mean I can’t sometimes surprise myself. Introvert and extrovert exist on a spectrum, and the spectrum is a great place to trial and error your way into the fullness of all you can be.

We’re sometimes too quick to put ourselves and each other in boxes, as if life is a simple game of “Would you rather.” You know the game where you have to answer scenarios about what you prefer, for example “Would you rather have no eyebrows or a mono brow?”

As the song in Five Guys Named Moe says,

High brow, low brow, (mono brow) all agree, we’re the best in harmony.

In this era of wax on and wax off, the choice between no eyebrows or mono brow is just as unnecessary as landing in one and one only place on a personality spectrum, such as;

Introvert or extrovert!

Optimistic or pessimistic!

Thinker or feeler!

Ambitious or accepting!

Independent or relational!

Creative or logical!

The point is that no one and nothing is that black and white. We’re all changing, ALL the time. Bust out of the personality type box. Live it all in harmony, let the spectrum of surprises of how you show up be like five guys named Moe.

How liberating is it to say “I’m BOTH and more?”

There are some times where you have to nail your colors to the mast and say “this is me, this is where I stand.” But more often than not, truth is many and varied. Be an enigma. Confuse yourself and surprise others, if you have to. You are a whole, ever changing, sometimes paradoxical, work in progress.

I love the image of a rose being both connected to the light of the sun AND the darkness of the soil.  Science Fiction author, Robin McKinley wrote,

The rose shadows said that they loved the sun, but that they also loved the dark, where their roots grew through the lightless mystery of the earth. The roses said: You do not have to choose.

This is SO liberating. You don’t always have to choose. Be all sorts of things and let others be all sorts of things. Be introverted one day and surprise yourself the next by getting out of your comfort zone. Some times, even be an extroverted introvert. Be a thinker on one issue and a feeler on another. Sometimes be a thinking feeler or feeling thinker. Be both optimistic and pessimistic in a blend you can’t even fully explain. Be liberal on one issue and conservative on another. Be happy and sad and so much more, all at the same time.

Stephen Chbosky wrote in Perks of Being A Wallflower,

I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.

Refuse to be pigeon holed. Be YOU, knowing that the “you” that is you is different in each moment. Accept it all. Go with it.

There is so little that is solid in your identity, so much less than we imagine, or even wish, sometimes. But think about it in a new way. Instead of thinking about change as insecurity, think of it as freedom. You are more than your thoughts, more than your emotions, more than your personality. None of that defines you, and none of the boxes people put you in are big enough to hold you. You are free to change and grow and become more of everything all the time.

Learn to love it all, even the grey. Author Libba Bray wrote,

In each of us lie good and bad, light and dark, art and pain, choice and regret, cruelty and sacrifice. We’re each of us our own chiaroscuro, our own bit of illusion fighting to emerge into something solid, something real. We’ve got to forgive ourselves that. I must remember to forgive myself. Because there is a lot of grey to work with. No one can live in the light all the time.

I had to look up “chiaroscuro” and now it’s my favorite word. It’s about the shades of light and shadow used in art. Even light and dark are arbitrary distinctions. We’re ALL shades of light and shadow, modeling life as best we can in each moment.

Do something scary today, just to remind yourself that no box is big enough to contain you. The most beautiful thing of all is when you remember that, no matter how routine and entrenched your life has become, you can still surprise yourself.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ian. This is a great article.

  2. Valerie says:

    Thank you for this most excellent article I’m going to share with everyone.  

  3.  Hey Ian, I love your analogy of the rose loving both the darkness and the sunlight, it definitely conveys the ability for someone to take on multiple personalities. You do not have to limit yourself, based on your own and others’ perceptions of how you should act and feel. I have a system, TCS System, that is aligned with what you’re teaching here, helping people become self-aware and understand and achieve their true potential in life. Come check it out on my website. I’m Master <a href=””> Life Coach </a> Bruno LoGreco, visit me at brunologreco.comFor further contact, feel free to email me at    

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