No Better Time To Share Your Complicated Colorful Self With The World

Every day when I wake up and turn on NPR, I hear another disturbing story. I do not need to tell you. You hear it, too. You feel it. You grieve for the people. The animals. The plants. For the planet. Some days you try denial for a while. I know I do. Many days you compartmentalize. Me, too. Some weeks you wear your emotional support sweater. Every day. You sleep in it. Well, OK, I don’t sleep in my emotional support sweater. But, I’m leaving the option open, just in case.

You may be wondering what you can do. How does a highly sensitive, empathetic, emotional, persnickety, somewhat indecisive, seemingly overthinking book lover manage in this world? Where does a rainforest-minded human who is driven to make a difference even start?

Well. I have some ideas.

I’ll begin with the obvious ones. The ones you are probably already doing.

Voting. Financially supporting important causes. Running for office. Supporting BIPOC businesses, writers, and artists. Getting therapy. Paying it forward. Examining your own biases. Following Van Jones on Instagram. Raising compassionate children. Volunteering your time. Setting healthy boundaries with toxic family members. Living more sustainably. Writing influential articles and books. Being kind. Becoming an activist. Starting a silent book club. Housing a refugee family. Starting a nonprofit. Having conversations with people you disagree with. Educating yourself about the climate crisis and what can be done. Following Glennon Doyle on Instagram. Fighting the urge to feel powerless or hopeless. Stopping the legacy of abuse in your family of origin. Maintaining your capacity for optimism and idealism. Developing your intuition and letting your creativity out of the box. Deepening your spiritual practice. Reviving your sense of humor.

That would be a great start.

And here is what I really want to say. This is what I am going to nag you about for the rest of my days.

Step up NOW to who you truly are. Yes, now. No time to waste. It is no longer appropriate to dilly dally. Procrastination is not an option. These times require all of us who are capable to step up and do the work we are here to do.

Open the doors to your destiny and charge on in!

How do you determine your destiny, you may ask. How do you find your purpose? There are ideas in this post and this one. Some great resources for this are here. It is a project for sure. But what could be more important? Honey, you have a rainforest mind. You were born for this. Your sensitivity, creativity, compassionate heart, intelligence. Your passion for justice and love for planet earth. Now is your time.

And if you are still not convinced, there is this:

“…You have worlds inside you — swirling, colorful, mournful, generous, soaring, hopeful, searing, heartbreaking worlds. You cannot offer just a tiny slice of you. You cannot hold back the flood. You want to share those worlds. You are way too big, too complicated, too glorious and infinitely sad and unspeakably divine. You have to share all of it...” Heather Havrilesky


To my bloggEEs: I know I am obsessed with this topic. (I hope I don’t sound too preachy.) What are you doing to find your purpose and live more of your authentic life? What questions do you have? What resources do you use that help you? These are such challenging times. Sending you so much love and appreciation for your courage.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

24 responses to “No Better Time To Share Your Complicated Colorful Self With The World”

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  5. Leafy Avatar

    Hi Paula,
    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and wanted to thank you for your thoughtful posts. They often act as an anchor when things get tougher. This community feels safe and understanding in ways that I don’t find in many places, even though by remaining open, I’m lucky enough to have built supportive relationships over time (the value of that can’t be overstated either).

    About finding purpose, this has been a subject of great introspection to me. Reflecting on things is often how I grow the most. Reflecting on the people in my life (and how much I care about them and love their qualities/kindness), reading books telling other people’s experiences, walking and eating in quiet contemplation. That being said, I’ve found it crucial to interact in the community, live meaningful experiences (doesn’t have to be anything grand), talk to people, work, volunteer, get involved, etc. These experiences are what gives me matter to process things and grow my appreciation for life in the end, and for people just as they are.

    Thanks again so much for all you do here.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Glad to have you here, Leafy! Thank you.

  6. Someone Avatar

    I want to turn the attention back to Paula and say that I am inspired by your dedication. I’ve noticed that you read and respond to each comment with encouragement. This is uncommon among the other groups to which I have belonged. It seems to me like an act of devotion. I wanted to acknowledge that.

    I am not sure what to say about doing the work we’re here to do. It’s one of those things that feels like a bit of a burr under my saddle. I get what you’re saying, but it’s the doing that’s problematic. I’m not so sure that we can “do” our way out of our problems, especially when too much “doing” is what got us into this mess, or when “doing” is generally conflated with extracting money/”a living” from the doing. I generally think that what is really needed is a whole lot less doing. This is definitely not a popular position to take.

    I am not proposing that we sit and fiddle while Rome burns. I am saying that the things that we are told that we should do to help (drive a Prius, recycle, write your senator, plant trees, give money to Greenpeace, etc, etc) feel a bit like fiddling while Rome burns.

    As someone who deeply feels a connection to the consciousness of the earth and all living things, I sometimes feel that the purpose of people like me for being here in this time is to be a sort of end of life doula for the natural world. To sit as a compassionate, grounding witness for mother Gaia and all life as we transition into whatever comes next. That may seem especially dour to some. I sincerely mean no offense.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Someone. Perhaps it makes more sense to say, Be who you are meant to be. That is, in fact, what I am saying, perhaps not as clearly. When I suggest that you find your purpose it might very well be a purpose or a destiny of compassion, witnessing, and being a connection to the All.

    2. Touching the Dirt! Avatar
      Touching the Dirt!

      First and foremost, DITTO, DITTO, and Ditto some more!!

      One thing I’m sure most of Paula’s followers will agree on is how much of ourselves and our life experiences we see in each other’s words. In case I haven’t said it enough Paula’s book (and I am now adding…) this blog has saved my life!!

      Sometimes I think I am losing some of my empathy and compassion because it is so hard not to be cynical. I am pushing 60 yrs on this planet and I can remember in my youth running through the streets like Paul revere telling people that Rome was indeed on fire!! They didn’t understand then and they don’t understand now. My conscience still forces me to recycle, donate, try to grow my own food, etc., but the most satisfying,” purpose of people like me for being here in this time is to be a sort of end of life doula for the natural world.” I live on a wooded lot in the suburbs. A storm brought down one of our large trees last year. Earlier this spring I noticed new growth triumphantly springing from just below the area where they had chainsawed. I felt as if I were the teacher in a pre-k classroom on the first day of school! I touched the baby leaves and put my cheek right against the trunk in reassurance that it was seen, it was loved and it was needed.

      God Bless

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Oh beautiful, Touching the Dirt. And, you too, are loved and needed! Thank you.

  7. Artie Avatar

    Lately I’ve been “studying” a lot: Neuroanatomy, neuroscience, chemistry, Japanese, Finnish, programming, etc. It’s a good stimulus and can help me greatly in the long run. And it’s not studying either, it’s more like feeding my brain and whatever potential it may have. No teachers, no rote learning, just giving my mind something to talk and think about.

    I’m very sensitive, I’m not sure if I can deal with society’s shortcomings. Just thinking about it is sad enough. So I’ve been trying to tune everything out, trying to desinhibit my thalamus, release dopamine and trying to engage in deep conversations with my prefrontal cortex. All to find the best way to go through life (if there is such a thing).

    For me, there’s a great potential in neuroplasticity. So I think it’s a good idea to dedicate my life to self-improvement.

    I don’t know but debugging sounds like a lot of fun.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Self-improvement is a contribution, especially when it includes healing any dysfunctional family patterns. You are also living in a country where life is quite stressful, Artie, so that might put you in a tougher position than those of us in countries with much less strife.

      1. Artie Avatar

        Thank you, Paula. You’re right.

        I tend to underestimate all the stress that I’ve been accumulating just by living in this country. What I need most is solitude and silence. Both are hard to find here.

        Fortunately, I’m more aware of what I need and it’s largely thanks to you. So yes, your blog is reaching this part of the world too. I hope it continues to reach other RFMs around the world. Best wishes to you and every RFM out there.

  8. clignett Avatar

    Wow, what a topic.. nowadays, then. No need to state the obvious reasons, we all KNOW.

    Yes, the world needs us RFM’s desperately, I agree.
    I am currently in a state of high anxiety, for a couple of weeks now – due to buying a new apartment and selling mine – hopefully by end of day here in The Netherlands I will have a signed contract with the people who will buy my apartment. Still stressful then, they have 3 days “thinking time”, so actually Monday end of day I will know for sure if it is sold. If they don’t need a mortgage, then, or don’t need a big loan from the bank, oh, so many things are swirling in my mind, keeping me up and busy and worrying..I just can’t seem to shut off the part of my brain that keeps on asking questions “what if..”
    In the meantime keeping my house as clean as possible (Beagle glitter every day), keeping my daily necessities in all kinds of closets, so the house has no soul anymore (for me).. Luckily I can’t hide my jungle plants, so they keep me in check. Indie is as stressed as I am (because of me, unfortunately! 🙈😱) All the good vibes are welcome! 🥰🥰

    The little things I can do, however, is being my authentic self, paying it forward, helping a friend get through a rough time just by making the effort and giving him space and time, and understanding, but most of all: listening.
    Besides that, helping out my 79 and 73 neighbors a few houses further away from my apartment.

    I can’t do his journey for him (them friend),,I can only shine a light on possibilities.. he will have to decide what works him. Those are hard conversations sometimes, for me to say, for him to hear.
    And the beautiful things just keep catching my eyes and heart. While I was talking to him this evening (and night) a beautiful small bat came to say “hello”. And I’m sitting in my balcony, with solar lamps on! Unusual for a bat to fly past the light, make sure I see him and only then flies away again. Nature at its best 🥰

    Anyway, long story short: Doing the things I have energy for, paying forward, helping people. Not only people, animals too. Dogs who are scared find refuge with me. I’ll protect you, I got and

    Baby steps really, but it is a start. You have to start somewhere, so with the little energy I have, this is what I can give at the moment.

    PS: that’s why I’ve not been responding to your earlier blogs.. it’s a bit too much tension in my body and mind.. too much pressure, especially for a RFM.. 🙈🙈

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It is important to know your limits, take care of your health, and do what you can, clignett. Thank you for sharing. Have I told you about the people in NL who know about giftedness? There is a lovely therapist you might check out. (not necessarily for therapy, but just for the connection) She knows some of the other folks. Annelie Neuteboom is her name.

    2. ewabs2 Avatar

      Hoi Clignett, ik ben ook in Nederland. is het een optie om een keer af te spreken. ik ben in Brabant.

      1. clignett Avatar

        Dank je wel! Leuk!
        (Translation in English: thank you! Nice!)

        Can you help facilitate this, Paula? I’m not really comfortable with sharing any personal details (e-mail, phone, etc.) on internet.. is there a way that we can contact each other through you?

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Yes! If you both email me directly, I will send you each of your email addresses!

    3. itssue42 Avatar

      Dougie beagle sends Indie a tail wag and suggests it must be about time for yet another snack or stroll or roll around on something smelly drying in the sun …. or any of those endlessly wondrous things in life that pooches focus on.

      1. clignett Avatar

        Ooohh… sweet Dougie! Indie loves him already! Eating smelly stuff from the streets, rolling in the grass in yet another “new perfume”, “finding” all kinds of yucky things to play or snack on in the bushes.. and then ignoring me completely when I catch him and manage to pry it loose.. offended.. trick didn’t work (he does try to fool me (which mostly works, I’m afraid).. he has a way of hiding his intentions and then jumping out of nowhere (for me) on his “prey”.. which he smelled from miles back of course, but was just strolling nicely by my side, as if it’s just another stroll outside.. sigh.. I’m constantly and completely fooled by my own dog, and I keep being fooled.. but I love it, no doubt about that! When I loose the “fight”, I just ask him “was it any good?” Wiggle wiggle. “Hm.. let me smell?” Crouch down to his level. “Open mouth, aaaaaaaahhhh” Mouth opens. I smell and almost fall down on my butt.. “Indie!! That is gross!! No kisses from you for a long time!!” Wiggle wiggle, wiggle wiggle, wiggle wiggle… (yep, with a look that says “you say that now, but you’ve got something coming when you have forgotten this! Which is right about.. yep, now!!” 🤣🤣🙈🥰🐶🐶

  9. ewabs2 Avatar

    I hear you, I hear the world crying out. but it hurts to much and I dont want to feel that pain anymore so I am hiding underneath my rock.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It is so hard when you feel the pain so intensely. Something tells me there are ways you can be influential from under the rock, ewabs2!

  10. itssue42 Avatar

    sigh…. I struggle with this every evvvery day. I am always so much happier when I kick myself hard enough that I “do” something yet every day I struggle to not feel hopeless and alone. It is not safe to be the real me in this world — all the usual problems, basically we RFMs are “too much” of everything for most people so they just shut us out. I so often feel that if only I just had at least 1 person in this universe who had enough in common with me, who I could talk to every day, who was enough like me to understand me and yet love me just the way I am, then I would have boundless hope and energy.
    Won’t give up the struggle but these last few years watching the U.S. crash downhill at higher and higher speed feels so unbearable.

    sorry… you caught me on a down day,
    but thank you for your insights and reminders. The world desperately needs us, even though most don’t know it and wouldn’t appreciate it. But the universe appreciates us, this planet appreciates us RFMs dearly and needs our help to heal. And people need us too.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      It can be hard to be motivated when feeling so misunderstood and lonely, Sue. And yet I know you have a lot to contribute. In your activity, keep looking for possible friends, or nourish the friendships you do have. I recall that you’ve said there are a couple who are pretty good ones. Right? And, I think you are saying, when you get out and participate you feel better. Feel the planet thanking you!