11 Things Your Introverted Friend Really Needs To Hear You Say

Everybody loves extroverts!

In any crowd, my friend Babalwa is the centre around which the conversation spins. She doesn’t bring the party; she is the party. As soon as she enters the room, everyone’s attention is directed at this one-woman-wonder, her dimpled cheeks and her perfect pearly white smile, confident and cool.

Everyone feels cool when they’re around her. In the next ten minutes you know she’ll have posted 10 selfies on Instagram, gained 50 followers on Twitter and added every human she meets as a friend on Facebook.

Is that how people describe you? Well, you’re probably an extrovert!

When you walk into a room, you’re looking for the nearest corner and plotting the quickest route there. You’re steering away from the crowd, not hurling yourself into the thick of it. You’d rather sip on your drink alone for a little while and get a feel of the vibe. Sometimes ‘a little while’ turns into the whole night and if you’re completely honest, four hours in your mind palace with your favourite drink is your idea of a great party.

Welcome to the life of an introvert.

It doesn’t matter how much you try to be like the superstar Babalwa, you will never be her. You hate the thought of people constantly demanding your attention. You don’t initiate conversation because you find chitchat pointless. Inevitably, people will call you shy, quiet and antisocial. Maybe even cold. And part of the reason why you hang back is because you’re secretly insecure about your personality and afraid of falling short of people’s expectations.

There’s no doubt that the world’s idea of a ‘cool’, ‘happy’, ‘friendly’ or ‘nice’ person is largely defined by what someone with an extroverted personality is like. If you tend towards a more introverted way of doing things people think you’re ‘moody’, ‘quiet’ and worst of all- ‘shy’.

Your introverted friend has probably never told you this, but they feel a lot of pressure to be super outgoing, people hugging extroverts and the thought of trying to keep that up is exhausting.

In her book, Susan Cain talks about how introverts live in an extroverted world and it’s true.

Introverts may not seek attention but they do want acknowledgment and recognition. They may say ‘Meh.’, ‘Ugh.’ and ‘I just want to die right now.’ a thousand times in a day but they don’t really mean it. What they want more than anything from you is free chocolate- lots of it.

In a world that’s against them, they need to hear you say these things – from an acceptable distance of course, respect their personal space!

1. ‘You’re deep, I love how you cut through all the superficiality and get to the root of things.’

People try to build community with 140 characters and are content with meaningless conversations about Bonang Matheba’s new boyfriend, deep and meaningful engagement is rare and refreshing.

2. ‘Thank you for being authentic. I feel like I can be myself around you.’

The reason why people say introverts have horrible social skills is because they’re not very good at playing pretend. Most of us are very superficial- we smile even if you’re bored; we nod even though you’re not listening. When introverts are themselves they free everyone else up to be themselves too.

3. ‘You have an awesome sense of humour,LOL!’

Behind the deadpan, zombie expression on her face, your introverted buddy is funnier than Kevin Hart and Tisha Campbell in the eighth episode of Season Two of Real Husbands of Hollywood.

4.‘OMW, you’re really smart, it’s amazing!’

Most of my introverted friends love reading, learning and gathering information about everything. Want to know how to spell onomatopoeia? Ask the introvert. Are you trying to remember what the first line in the Great Gatsby is? Trust the introvert to know. Did you know that dogs were actually created by people? Well, now you do because the introvert told you.

Related: TheBeyoncé Guide to Being A Powerful Introvert

5. ‘I love how awkward you are. It gives me great pleasure

to bask in the light

of your reflected awkwardness.’

For an introvert, the only thing worse than getting stuck between elevator doors as they close is getting stuck in an elevator with a complete stranger. Should you look at the person?
If you look at the person they might try to talk to you. And that means that you actually have to say something back. The awkwardness of introverts and their propensity for getting embarrassed is so cute!

6. ‘I admire your ability to step back, observe and understand. It’s powerful.’

My friend Wendy has this one waxed. When she worked for a church we were both a part of in Grahamstown, she had the ability to connect with and bring in people who were hanging out on the fringe. Her strength was being able to step back, observe and understand people around her.

7. ‘You’re a great listener.’

Very often, after having poured your heart out to your introverted friend, they won’t say anything at all in response. Of course, it’s entirely possible that they got bored, left the conversation and went down a rabbit hole of their own thoughts. But more often than not, they’re taking the time to absorb and process what you’ve been saying. Sometimes what we need more than advice and an action plan is someone who will just sit there and listen.

8. ‘I really enjoy and value time spent with you, it means a lot to me.’

Introverts thrive on solitude, their time is very precious and if they choose to spend it with you, consider yourself special!

9. ‘[Silence]’

When you understand how introverts relate to people, hanging out with them is awesome. You’re not worried about running out of things to talk about because long silences aren’t awkward to them. When you need someone to just be with, they can be that person because they respect your personal space.

10. ‘The thoughtful things you say and do for me make me feel very loved by you.’

People who tend towards introversion are deliberate and intentional in their relationships. I know a guy who sent the girl he liked a rose and a note every day for a week before he asked her to be his girlfriend. In each note he wrote about what he loved about her – I mean, what girl can say no to that?

Want to grow as a person? Click here!

11. ‘I love you just the way you are.’

Introverts may not capture you with the flashy, attention-grabbing spark of a shooting star but they have the persistent, long-lasting light of a morning star. Their power doesn’t lie in spontaneity or big personalities, but in their very unique way of doing things.

Related: Boo, He’s Not Shy

Having read this, some of you might be confused about whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. No one falls neatly into those categories; some tend more towards one than the other and others are a mix of both. The aim is not place labels on people but to love who we’ve been created to be and to love others as much.

Grow and find out how to live every day with purpose by signing up to Zola’s Awesome List for FREE!

©Zola Ndlovu 2014 No reblogging or republishing without permission of the author. realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com

Why Do Black Women Lose Their Faith?

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For most black women church was an essential part of our childhood. Life just wasn’t life without it. Christianity wasn’t a choice. Your mother or grandmother or aunt weren’t trying to hear that you were looking at other options. Questioning was rebellion and doubt was a dirty word that you wouldn’t dare confess.

Leaving the church is one of the hardest decisions that a black woman can make. ‘Church’ isn’t just a building where you attend a meeting every Sunday. In the context of the black community, it is part of how you define yourself: first as someone’s child, then as a woman and finally as a member of the community. In many ways, losing your faith means leaving behind a belief about who you’ve always thought you were.

Related: How To Be Yourself

It always begins with doubt. You go through experiences that make you question whether God is really there. You wonder whether what you believe is really true. If you’re like me, you deal with those doubts silently because you’re a little bit ashamed of them and you worry that voicing them will lead to rejection. It’s a slow burn. The doubts grow until you decide that you can no longer pretend, so you take the leap because you’re tired of pretending to be a believer when you have no belief left.

I want you to know that you’re not the only one who has struggled with doubt. I think it’s time to bring our doubts into the open, recognise them for what they are and begin to understand them. And hey, I’m not here to judge or disrespect you. I’m here to speak honestly about something that’s important.

Related: Why Trusting God is Worth it Even If it Hurts

Why do we lose our faith in God? We all have different reasons but these are the most common that I’ve seen:

1. Our faith is not personal. 
If your family have been churchgoing, Bible-believing, demon slaying Christians for generations, then you are expected to be one too. You follow the rules, not because you love God, but to avoid hell or to spare yourself the wrath of your elders (which in some ways seems worse than the fiery pit). When you don’t have a relationship with God it’s impossible to work out your doubts with him because you think of him as a cosmic Santa in the sky who knows what you’ve been up to and is waiting to throw some lightning down to punish you, not as God the Father.

2. Our pain make us think.
If God is real how could he let this happen to me? Pain might move you closer to God or further away from him, but one thing is for sure: it will make you think. Your dad abandoning you will make you question the truth of God as a loving Father. Molestation and rape will leave you feeling violated and angry. A lover’s betrayal will mean you’ll struggle to trust. Our experiences confirm our doubts: God isn’t real and if he is, he doesn’t care.

3. Our pride won’t let us go deeper.
Spiritual pride is the belief that you have what it takes to run your own life, outside of God. ‘Who runs the world? Girls.’ We can make the money, raise the kids and lead nations. Take it further and we can define our own sense of self worth and meaning. Humility compels us to go deeper and find greater purpose outside of ourselves. Humility forces us to confront our limitations and pursue that greater value until we find him.

Where do we go from here? (Why’s my heart filled with so much fear?)

As I hum the tune to Deborah Cox’s song I’m thinking about the fact that there’s actually no such thing as ‘losing our faith’. What we’re actually doing is placing our faith in something else.

Underlying our doubt is a belief: the belief that God isn’t real. It’s still faith.

Where is your hope? That is the question. It’s the biggest question because the answer determines everything – what you spend our money on, what work you do, who you marry and how we live.

Related: The Absolute Futility of Friendship And Life Nje.

We need to live according to personal convictions. We need to wrestle with our pain. We need to lay down our pride and begin to question and search.

I want to continue this conversation with you. Subscribe by email to get my next post to your inbox. Want to get in touch with me? Email me at realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com.

8 Things In Life That Are More Important Than Watching Generations Tonight

In case you missed this, heads up: The nation of South Africa awaits with bated breath, Coca-Cola and KFC the return of its most well loved soapie Generations.

The iconic series was discontinued after a salary dispute that resulted in several actors who played main characters unceremoniously departing from the cast. Generations is a big deal over here with an almost religious following that extends past South Africa’s borders into neighbouring countries. The prospect of Generations was an issue of such macroeconomic proportions that the national trade union (COSATU) intervened.

This is the powerhouse that is Generations.

‘But surely there are more important things in life?! I hear you ask. So I’ve written a whole list, 8 things in life that are important that watching Generations tonight :

1.

2.

3.

4.Hmmm…

5.

6.

7.

8.

Unless you’re having a baby, looking for the cure for ebola or something equally earth shattering there is nothing, NOTHING more important than you witnessing the return of Generations!

Generations will be showing tonight on SABC 1 at 20:00.

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Have a thought to share? Email Zola at realmukoko[at]gmail[dot]com

How To Become More of Yourself And Less of the Person You’ve Been Pretending to Be For Most of Your Life

Hi, I’m Shula and I’m a people pleaser.

"You alone are enough and you have nothing to prove to anybody." Maya Angelou

When I was in school, being the cool kid was everything. In junior school it was all about who scored the highest mark in the spelling test and who got the lead part in the play. Later, it was about the clothes you wore on casual day or the way you spoke. You could tell a lot about a kid just from their accent when they spoke English.

Everyone had something to prove, everyone was working to climb the invisible social leader.

I left school behind a long time ago but I took a lot of baggage with me, including the false personas I’d created to fit in. It wasn’t really lying, more like leaving certain things out so that people would have a certain idea about who I was. And I guess somewhere along the way I forgot who I actually was.

People pleasing is not something we’re born doing, we learn it over time. When you’re growing up you learn to seek approval over disapproval. You learn what’s acceptable and unacceptable. You learn that appearances are everything.

First you play pretend and then you become that character you’ve been pretending to be.

But there’s only one problem: years later, you’re a grown woman and you’re miserable. You’re exhausted from having to keep this act up. You’re frustrated in your relationships because your friends aren’t friends with you, they’re friends with the imposter you’re projecting. You’re about to collapse under the pressure of juggling everyone’s demands.

Say it out loud:
Hi, I’m ____ and I’m a people pleaser.
Hi you.

If people pleasing is learned, it can be unlearned. It’s really, really, really hard at the beginning and you might hurt a few people along the way but you can definitely do it. And if you stay committed to doing this one thing, just this, you will learn to overcome your constant need for approval:

Expand your vocabulary by one word.

I know you’re going to struggle to say this but try it with me, "NO." For people pleasers this is a curse word. You feel really guilty when you say it so you made a silent vow never to say it again. And secretly you believe that the stock market will crash if you that word ever passes through your lips.

Firstly, you have an over-inflated sense of importance. Your friend will not die if you say No to them borrowing a big chunk of your savings so that they can go and watch their favourite guitarist who’s in town for one night only. You are not their messiah and you don’t have to be a constant help in times of trouble.

Secondly, you’re so busy doing stuff that you "want" to do that you don’t actually have time to do the stuff you need to do. You missed a work deadline because you’ve gone out every night of the week with your new younger and cooler acquaintance. You’re usually in bed by 10, she’s just getting the party started at midnight. You’re on a rollercoaster and you can’t get off.

Thirdly, you’re not genuinely generous or gracious because underneath that mask of "She’s so nice!" is your craving to be affirmed. You serve on every ministry in church because somewhere deep down inside, you think that it’ll make people like you more. It’s all part of the mask that you put on on Sunday and forget to take off every other day of the week.

Does any of that sting at all? If it does, then we could finally be getting to the real you. The real you who has feelings. The real you who has likes and dislikes. The real you, not the you you’ve chosen to project.

Your turn:

Saying No tactfully is difficult. What ways have you found to say no gracefully?

Honey love,

Shula xoxo

10 Lies That Women Tell

There are three kinds of lies: lies that other people tell; lies that we tell other people; and lies that we tell ourselves. I believe that the third kind of lie is the most dangerous because it comes from the heart and therefore affects how we live our lives.

Which of these lies are you needing freedom from?

1 When I find him I will finally feel whole.
This is said by a needy woman who is looking for a man to fill her up. I’d hate to be the man in this situation- it’s too much pressure! The desire for wholeness is good but the source she’s going to is all wrong. The truth is that she will never feel whole until she allows God to fill the God shaped hole in her heart.

2 When I have a baby I will have a purpose.
I’ve heard Beyoncé and Drew Barrymore say that having their daughters gave them a sense of purpose that they felt was missing all of their lives. On the one hand, I believe that being a mother can give a woman a sense of significance that wouldn’t be there otherwise, but that’s only part of the story. For a mother, mothering is a part of her purpose in life but one day her baby will be a grown woman who will leave her. What happens to her purpose then?

3 Marriage doesn’t work.
Our generation grew up in broken homes where adultery and divorce are the norm. We want to be in a lifelong relationship with someone but we’ve lost our faith in marriage. The truth is that marriage does work, but it’s hard work. Marriages that work are the fruit of people who are willing to work it out when things get tough and trust God to give them the grace to do so.

4 I have committed the unforgivable sin. I think every person has told themselves this at some point in time. The result of this lie is that we leave in condemnation, punishing ourselves for the horrible thing that we did. Here’s the truth. Even if what you did was terrible and deliberate, God wants to forgive you. He made the first move by sacrificing Himself so that you could be forgiven.

5 I am just like my mother/father.
This is a lie that takes root when someone close to you says it to you over and over again, “You’re just like your mother, and you’re useless. You will never amount to anything.” And when you look in the mirror it confirms it because you look just like her. The truth is you may have your mother’s DNA but you have a different identity. You have a chance to make different choices.

6 He is my soul mate.
One of the biggest obstacles between you and finding love is that ‘love of your life’ that no man can ever live up to. In your mind he’s The One and you can never love anyone like you loved him. The only problem is… He’s married. The truth is that he’s someone else’s soul mate, the person he’s with, so cut him loose. Your soul mate is that person that you choose to commit to for life.

7 I can never forgive [insert name of offender].
When you harbour unforgiveness it’s like administering a lethal injection into your own veins or sentencing yourself to a term of life imprisonment. Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die; forgiveness is like releasing a prisoner and discovering

that that prisoner is you.

8 What happened to me was my fault.
This is one of the most destructive lies ever told. Women do this all the time. Her boyfriend hits her and she thinks that if she didn’t provoke him he wouldn’t get so angry. She is sexually assaulted and she thinks that if she wasn’t so tempting it wouldn’t have happened. The truth is that you shouldn’t take responsibility for something that was done to you; it’s not your fault.

9 It’s just sex.
You’d think that by now we would have graduated from this lie but it’s something that many of us still believe. There is no such thing as ‘no strings attached’, the strings are there! The truth is that sex is very powerful and it bonds you to a person like nothing else can.

10 God doesn’t care.
You believe that God doesn’t exist and if he does then he forgot about you a long time ago. This is a lie that takes root when we’ve been through really tough experiences shook our trust in God. But God still cares and He loves you enough to keep you alive and breathing. If he didn’t then he would have turned off your life support machine a long time ago.

Your turn:
All lies have the potential to become self-fulfilling prophecies when we internalise them. Which one of these have you told yourself?

Shulaxoxo