Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Introverts R Us (Me, I ?)

For some reason, perhaps my impending half-century mark, I have been reading a lot of non-fiction the past few months.  I know how it began, I came across two books on alternative careers for information professionals.  This led to a winter and spring of, as librarians call it, citation chasing.  If an author made a reference to another work I found interesting I would seek it out.  I did as much as I could via the public library but for a while I was getting a lot of boxes from an on-line book retailer.  Honestly, who could resist a book on finding your passion in life for $2.99?  I have yet to read it.  Sadly, books that I own take a backseat to library books.  I hate paying overdue fines.  Except for my brief foray into the life of Jen Lancaster my non fiction journey has led me to extensive reading on introverts. 
This has been quite an awakening for me.  I have come to understand that I’m not the lazy curmudgeon/hermit I thought I was but simply a card-carry introvert.  This is not to be confused with being shy, though I am also that, many of the studies show there is a distinct difference in the two.  People who know me are probably thinking – how can she ballroom dance and be an introvert? Answer, very easily.  It takes a lot for me to walk out on a dance floor to compete – and I’m not referring to the hours it takes to tart myself up either.  Despite what people have said to me, I’m not a very good actor (though I have read that many actors are also introverts.  Read; stage fright).  I wish I could dance the way I imagine I do in my mind.  Sadly my imagination is better than reality.  To get over the nerves I tend to, much to my coach’s chagrin, go into my own personal space while dancing.
            I know I’m an introvert for many reasons including:
                        1.  I dislike crowds of people
                        2.  I’m ok going 24 hours without talking to anyone save Mojo.
                        3.  I recharge my batteries best by being alone
                            (extroverts need people around them for that)
That’s why despite my desire to save money I’m better off not sharing a hotel room at a competition.  I noticed I get grumpy and edgy at competitions and this is why.  After spending several hours in the chaos that is a dance competition I need some down time (common with introverts).  If I don’t get it when I need it things can get dicey.  I really don’t like parties with a lot of people and I never choose to go to bars.  If I’m in either situation I need some quiet time to prepare.  I can’t spend an entire day at warp speed.  I get much more accomplished if I break up tasks with time for knitting or reading.  I come home exhausted from my current job.  I thought it was from the stress of doing a job for which I am not suited.  Well, it is, but in a different way.  Most afternoons from 12:00 – 3:30 I am being bombarded by people with no down time.  I always said I would be happier in a job where I could hide and do research all day.  I thought it was because I didn’t like people.  While I’m not a ‘people person’ I don’t dislike people – I just need space away from them when there is too much stimulation around me.  I was miserable in my last job.  While there were countless reasons for that that had nothing to do with my personality, such as a toxic work environment for everyone, I again have come to understand it wasn’t all me.  For the last year I was in the job I was forced to share a very small cubicle with two other people.  This is a nightmare for an introvert.  Introverts don’t function well in a crowd.  According to the book Quiet by Susan Cain there have been studies done that show introverts productivity decreases when placed in that sort of environment.  About 20 years ago I went to a career counselor and I took a Myers- Briggs test, while I don’t remember all my letters I know I was classified as an introvert.  Pity it’s taken me this long to understand fully what that means.
            So, to all my friends who might read this; if you invite me somewhere and I say no please don’t take it personally.  I are an introvert and you may simply be asking me at a time when I need to recharge my batteries.
            Hm, there might be a t-shirt somewhere in all of this….

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