When I was a kid attending my beloved sleepaway camp, I was what they affectionately call a “barn geek.”
I was the camper that went to every single barn chores. Even the ones that required setting an alarm and crawling out of my cozy, warm bunk in the chilly early mornings while my cabinmates continued to snooze.
I was the one and only kid that showed up to the afternoon activity that entailed cutting goat toenails.
I did it all. Every time I could be with farm animals, I was there.
My favorites were the goats, and I even semi-adopted my own baby goat one summer. But I would feed, water, and tend to any and all animals. In hindsight, I can see that nurturing animals helped me feel nurtured, too.
One summer, I remember being impatient to start a barn activity and the counselor scolded me. She said, “Mellow out, Abby. Animals love mellow people.”
Even at the time, I was able to laugh outwardly with my cabinmates at her ridiculous comment. Animals (and babies) always loved me. I knew that.
But inwardly, those words branded my soul. I wasn’t mellow. I was too intense.
People were always telling me that I was too sensitive. I cried too easily. I felt things too deeply. I was too focused on everyone else’s words, feelings, and actions. I just needed to relax.
Telling me to relax was like telling a drowning person to just relax.
I couldn’t relax in order to save my own life.
And so was born the story in my head that I was “too intense.” Too much.
I believed it for decades.
I tried to hide and play it cool and be casual but I doubt I was very convincing. I am sure my intensity was all the more overwhelming for trying to hide it.
Then, about three years ago, my dear friend Kimberly said something that stopped me in my tracks.
She said, “what if your intensity is your superpower?”
Her question took my breath away.
It made me think of my brother, a successful business coach, saying his ADHD, far from being a negative, is his superpower. Who says you can't decide what is your superpower?
Getting coached on this has helped me realize that holding back my truest self is keeping the world from receiving what this unique person, me, is able to give. It ] keeps my relationships superficial. As a result, it made relationships more likely to end. The very thing I was trying to avoid.
I have learned to lean into my intensity. To embrace it. To stop apologizing for it (most of the time!). To recognize that this is who I am.
But even beyond that, to question what is “too intense."
Too intense for whom? For this broken world we live in?
What if I am the perfect amount of intense, and it is all those other people who are lacking if they are unable to appreciate me?
Indeed, as I have embraced my intensity, I have found, more than ever, my people. The people who value intensity. The people who are intense too. My people.
What stories do you tell about yourself? What negative labels do you give yourself? How are they holding you back? And did you know you can just decide, right now, that they are not true and that you can change the narrative of your life right now?
Just by deciding. You don’t have to prove anything or convince anyone. Just decide and it becomes fact.
This is simple but it's far from easy.
If you’d like support changing the narrative of your life, set up a complimentary life coaching session. There’s no commitment and no sales pitch. Just an opportunity to experience a life changing transformation.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.