care for your introvert. NOW.

gallery-guyI have come to the shocking conclusion that I am an introvert, more or less. It explains why I don’t understand people walking about texting and messaging and chatting, chatting, chatting, all hooked up or into one gadget or another, why I’d rather sit at home reading on Saturday night, and why three real, true friends are enough—ideal even.

I’ve never really thought of it from this perspective before, partly because I’m not entirely introverted. Or perhaps I’ve let the status quo convince me to convince myself that ’cause I’d like not to be a wallflower, I’m not. (Though many would argue that introverts are not wallflowers.) Introverts get tons of bad press, because quite frankly, we make extroverts (the majority) a little nervous.

This came to me because I happened upon a book on introversion. Did I see it for sale on the street, or did I seek it out because all the social networking, which one must do for professional reasons, has me feeling out-of-sorts? I can’t recall. No, okay, I’m not such an introvert that I won’t do facebook, unlike my closest friends. But twitter? Ugh. Even using a cell phone is out of my comfort zone most of the time. Email is an introvert’s delight. I can read messages in quiet calm, think about them as long as I like, and reply when I’m in the mood. What bliss! It honestly didn’t occur to me, until I came across this book, that most people think I’m as out of whack as I think them mad to be thumbing a small gadget at all hours.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reposting here old bits I’d long ago originally posted in html so that they feed into the categories and all else on the site, which meant rereading my posts from the 2000 tour. Whoa. Oh course that was a disaster job for me. It’s not that I didn’t like the people or the travel, or even the job. It’s that I need time to myself, to process. And there was no free time. Less than time, even. I said that then, therefore knew that then, and I’ve been writing about it ever since (hence the time & values category), but even now, almost a decade later, I still push myself too far, out in the city from 8am–10pm trying to fit everything in. And I wonder why I get cranky.

Granted this is complicated by working a full time job that has nothing to do with my passions and everything to do with a small but steady paycheck with generous holidays and health insurance. When I add the yoga teaching, my own yoga practice, writing, photography, and life, there isn’t that much time left for relaxing with the the ones and things I love. Alas, I’m almost done with the training and I’ve cut my teaching schedule dramatically so that I can address this (which wasn’t my ideal choice, but the only viable option). I realize that in some professional circles it’s suicide to admit I like to sit back and reflect, but so be it. It’s true. I love people but dislike small talk with strangers. I dislike noisy parties, unless I know enough people there to have real conversations. I’m not interested in what my acquaintances think of my hair cut.

I realize that this admission is complicated by the last post, which was a conversation with a stranger on the street. Okay, like I said, I’m not a total introvert. I’m on assbook and all.

To back this up, I looked about the web for some references, as I’m not going to admit what book I’m reading. It’s far too pop-psych. Luckily an elegant piece from The Atlantic popped up, “Caring for Your Introvert.”

“Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is “too serious,” or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?” If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands—and that you aren’t caring for him properly….If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world.”

It’s a great article. Read it. I want to make all my damn professors who forced us to work in groups (which usually means that everyone else chats about all sorts of topics other than that assigned while the introvert does all the work, but is spurned for not chatting enough).

I’m quite lucky that I’m by far the most extroverted person in my department at work. We get each other. (There are reasons I stay. Sigh.) The point here, is that introverts think differently. We love people. We just like to think about things and process them. We are easily stimulated, so too much stimulation is overwhelming and requires a break to refuel. Extroverts are energized by external stimulation. Introverts are energized by peace, quiet and reflection. So care for your introvert. Now.

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