how she reacted when I told her "I want to be a writer"
As a 30 year old, I didn't think I'd be still, effectively, asking permission from my parents about certain things. I sometimes feel like a little kid again, tentatively approaching a subject, or a difficult conversation, with my tail between my legs.
Back when I was at school, when I imagined my future me I figured I' would have 'settled down' by now, with my own place, and perhaps with a kid or two in tow. It's funny how things turn out...
As a highly sensitive introvert, my relationship with my parents is an interesting one. They love me to bits, and vice versa, but - and this is especially felt because I’m living at home - the whole separation thing hasn't really happened.
By separation, I mean the transition from parent-child relationship to an adult-adult one. In some ways, this has kinda happened, in other ways this hasn't really happened.
Which brings me to the conversation I had with mum just a few days ago, last Sunday.
But before I go into that, just a few weeks ago, during a conversation I was having over coffee with a friend of mine (who happens to be an INFJ and living her own unconventional life), I was describing to her the many different things I was pursuing - learning to trade FX, freelance marketing, talking to others a about a 'trading opportunity' for a family business whose website I'd just created... it was all very messy; I had taken on too much. She suggested, after I told her I wanted to get a job which still allowed me to write: "Have you thought about working in a coffee shop, or something?"
In the moment, I said something along the lines of "Yeah, I have. And if things don't work out with any of this stuff, I may consider that option early next year. I don't have any airs and graces when it comes to doing a job like that...".
Actually, if I’m being completely honest with myself, I did have some airs-and-graces. In a way, I still do. It feels difficult, and scary, for me to commit to doing something like that. And yet, today, as I write this piece and I now write these words, I feel more confident in this being my path than ever.
I want to be a writer. There, I said it.
Which brings me onto the conversation with my mum one Sunday that has recently passed.
I woke up on this Sunday, where the clocks had gone back in the middle of the night, in line with the end of Daylight Saving. So, an extra hour in bed, before waking up for the 2nd Rugby World Cup semi-final between Wales and South Africa. After a late night the previous night (a friend's 'stag' do), and with the possibility of my going into London later today, I was tired. I could have easily spent a cosy day in, sat on the couch with laptop on lap, writing and reading stuff, with some good Sunday TV playing in the background.
But, it was nice outside, and I quite enjoy our treasured moments walking outside together, through the park, and across the river over the bridge to one of our favourite brunch spots.
And I'm glad I did. Because, somehow, it felt right to share with my mum what was going on for me, and what I was thinking. I think, as an INFP, we just know when the time’s right to have a conversation, or take action, or otherwise make something happen.
In fact, it what happened was what Lauren Sapala described to me in one of our email exchanges as “the pull” and - in doing so - she beautifully articulated what following your intuition looks like - and how we can do it:
“Lucky for you, you're an INFP, because this is where your intuition comes in, big-time. The key is to not plan anything out, just be in the moment and go with the flow. Let the conversation/interaction/encounter naturally take its course. If something is meant to come up and be shared, it will come up naturally and, even though you might feel uncomfortable, you'll feel the pull to share. The REAL key, IMO, is that it feel like a "pull," not a push. So, if you're in the conversation with the person and you start feeling panicky and weird and like you need to spill everything to them RIGHT NOW and you stop and check in with yourself and you notice that you feel like you're PUSHING yourself, like, you're getting behind yourself and giving yourself this shove to move forward, get going, get it over with...that's a pretty good sign that you're freaking out and trying to control everything. Also IMO, I think introverts tend to be more okay than we should be about pushing ourselves because we've been kind of brainwashed to override our natural instincts to hold back and wait, so we tend to push ourselves in all kinds of situations where we don't need to push ourselves.
Instead of pushing yourself, wait for the pull. The pull will feel much more natural, and like's it a natural part of the conversation. You won't have to engineer anything or overthink it. It will feel like a pull in your body to share something, and it will only occur if the time is right and if you feel safe. In fact, I encourage you to stop pushing yourself in everything, and ONLY operate according to the pull. That's called following your intuition.”
-> Lauren Sapala
Btw, Lauren has a remarkable understanding of INFJ- and INFP-personality types (she’s an INFJ herself), and I’ll be mentioning her again in the ‘Some other stuff’ section following this piece.
And, this is exactly what happened when we were sat down together at the table in the cafe; my brother had gone up to order our food, and it was just the two of us sat there. We were just talking and, all of a sudden, I just recall it feeling right to bring up my intentions to be a writer, and thus the sorts of jobs I was now looking for. I felt the pull.
These deep, below-the-surface conversations with mum don’t happen so often, but I’m noticing they’re happening much more often than they used to. This feels like a good sign.
So here’s what I told her. The context is this: since the start of the year, I left my job (again), to give freelance marketing a go. It hasn’t worked out for various reasons, and it just hasn’t felt right.
I told mum that I was wanting to get serious with my writing. I was committed to pursue writing as “my thing”, and thus get a customer-facing job that wasn't too stressful. This meant that, as of now, I was officially not wanting to 'build a career'. Yes, I left the city in 2015 and, yes, I left my employed job earlier this year, but it’s felt like I’ve been in a limbo between two blocks of land, hovering somewhere in the middle, and not quite brave enough to leave the world of “impressive jobs” behind.
And a little to my surprise... she was absolutely fine with it. She was supportive. She agreed that finding a non-remote job, in terms of the people-interaction Id be getting away from the solitude of my writing, wold do my good.
"I just want you to be happy", she said.
It was so nice to hear those words. And it felt like, in saying what I wanted out loud, and with my mum, I felt a release.
Truth be told, this has felt like a big step for me. As an Asian kid sent to grammar school, who got good grades and was intelligent, I felt the expectations of my school, of society, of everyone... to do something 'impressive' and earn good money in a job. Perhaps most of all, I put those burdensome pressures and expectations on my own shoulders.
Even though I left the City 4 years ago, I still feel the pull of these expectations. And I know my parents do, too, from everyone else and society as a whole, from extended family members, from random other folks we meet at gatherings, where they inevitably ask what me and my brother are ‘up to’, like folks tend to do.
For the last 4 years, it's been a topsy-turvy journey, one which my parents have witnessed but also I've not really shared the journey so much with them, in terms of what I’ve been going on in my head.
At one such gathering a few weeks ago, someone asked my dad what I did, and the guy later talked to me and joked (innocently) that my dad didn’t really know what I ‘did for a living. Apparently: "Your dad said you do blogging...". Bless him. I mean, he’s not wrong.
I know my parents don't quite get what I'm doing, and it would be much easier and less stressful for them if I was doing something more conventional.
All of which makes my mum's reaction even more special, and me so appreciative for it. This feels like a huge step for me. And a remarkable conversation, one that'll stay in my memory.
It was the day I said, out loud, that I wanted to be a writer and focus my efforts on that... and the day my mum accepted me for it.
It was also apt that, just a few moments ago, we were watching Gogglebox together, and as part of the Stand Up To Cancer segment, they showed a couple of harrowing stories of a couple of men who had suffered with, and gone on to die from, cancer. Both mum and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing and she said, afterwards, “It just goes to show how precious life is. You need to live your life and follow your dreams.”
Those words are still hanging in the air, as I put these words down on the screen.
Thanks mum, you're the best x
Some other stuff…
📖Book: The INFJ Revolution
This week, I finished reading Lauren Sapala’s latest book. I’m an INFP, but I recommend that all INF-types, whether you’re an INFP or an INFJ, read this. It is so, so good -> Find out more and get your own copy.
🔔In case you missed it…
I was on my 1st ever podcast recently, talking about being a ‘highly sensitive introvert’. I’ve had some lovely feedback so far, speaking on a topic close to my heart. You can listen over here, or just search ‘Creative introvert Jas Hothi’ on your favourite podcast platform (e.g. iTunes, Spotify, etc).
I’m not a big Instagrammer at all, but my favourite account has to be a kind bear, whose bears are drawn by the mother of a friend of mine. It’ll fill your feed with some much-needed joy.
I recently came across a quote by the author CS Lewis, which I felt beautifully described what friendship is all about:
Aw! I couldn’t have put it better myself. And this is literally me every time I meet someone who I really connect with (more often than not, this happens when I vibe with a fellow INFP or INFJ).
✏️ Writers / #NaNoWriMo
Are you taking part in #NaNoWriMo this year? If you’re a writer and have no idea what I’m talking about, you might wanna check it out. If you’re an intuitive writer (INFPs and INFJs, that’s you!) and the idea of sitting down and churning out lots and lots of words, over a period of consecutive days, terrifies you, you’ll want to check out Lauren’s recent post -> How INFJs and INFPs can start using the intuitive writing process.
PS. It was thanks to last year’s NaNo that I completed my first 50k-word manuscript. For this November, I’m currently teetering between working on finishing my 1st edit, or working on a whole new one. Keep up to date with what’s going on in my writing life over here.
subscribe to INF club
a free bi-monthly(ish) newsletter, with articles + stories + tidbits to help you grow