Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Introverts Unite!

Hanna over at Excelsior Lady—an introvert herself — created this badge. I thought it would make a great meme badge.

I've known all my life that I was an introvert and, thank goodness, I've never thought it was a bad thing. In fact, I think my introverted qualities have done well for me in my careers.

Anyway, I found a really nice article in the Huffington Post. It's the only popular news article I've ever read to describe the qualities of an introvert in a more positive light. I was disturbed to learn that there was a time psychiatry considered labeling introverts as mentally ill.  Really? A lot of psychologists and psychiatrists are introverts. Self flaggelation anyone?

As a lot of readers and writers are introverts, I thought it might be great to discuss this or to do an Introvert Meme on various blogs. If you want to declare you are an introvert and proud of it, feel free to participate. Pick Up the pic in this blog, read the article, and give a brief description of how you fit or don't fit within the 23 points.  Here is mine below.

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome.  
I do. I know it's necessary to break the ice, particularly with people I don't know, but I never focus on that stuff because it's rarely authentic.  Really, when someone says "How are you doing?" How often do you say, "Actually, I'm having a rough day. It started with..."  Almost no one does that! Why? Because they know in social situations that "How are you doing?" Isn't really an authentic question. The expectations is "Fine." Then you talk about your job, your kids, your house, car.  Surprisingly, everything there is "fine" or "better than fine" there too.

I'm combining a bunch into the next bit. 2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people.  3. You Feel alone in a crowd. 5. You are often called "too intense." 6. You're easily distracted.
19. You don't feel "high" from your surrounding.
I'm taking these together because they all have the same foundation for me. Beause of #1, you can see I'm already at a disadvantage at a party. I really dislike parties in general because they are far too over stimulating (distracting)--the noise, the colors, the movements, the inability to go in depth on any conversations.

At parties, the way I cope is by finding groups of only one or two people, where I can follow a single conversation and engage for awhile. In college, I was known as the girl in the corner talking with two or three people all night. I didn't have to know them in advance, I just needed to concentrate on a smaller group and I needed to engage in a deeper level. I can move from one group to another, but I tend to stay longer and talk longer in each small group. Then I move to the next group.

For the same reason, I hate sitting at a great big table with 14 other people who are all talking at once, because I don't know where to focus.  Even if I decide to focus on the two or three near me, the other conversations sneak in and distract me to the point of being exhausting. All of these reasons lead to me feeling alone in a crowd because I don't feel I'm connecting sufficiently, really getting to know people, and it is literally energy draining for me.  My perfect party is up to six people (eight on the outside) with a common interest, working toward common goals, and equally committed. Yeah, I know "too intense." :)

4. Networking makes you feel like a phony.
Yup. The whole concept of getting to know someone just so you can get something out of them is horrific to me. Also why a sales career has never been a choice. Instead, I work on the Karma principle. I do things for people that I think they may need/want, but with no expectations of getting anything back. It seems that other people do that too, because I've been the fortunate recipient of lots of help throughout my life--some from people I did help, but often from people I didn't do things for. I'm not sure how the universal Karma jar works, but it seems to work great for me.

7. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you.
Absolutely right. I crave downtime, and when I don't get it I become rather difficult to live with. Fortunately, my husband completely understands this. 

8. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards. (This also goes with 10. You start to shut down after you’ve been active for too long.
When I worked in the software industry, I used to go to user conferences where I would give a talk to 2,000+ people in a room. It never bothered me. I thought about it in advance, I prepared for it, and I felt good about what I was saying because it was like teaching. Same with my teaching career and my management career.  However, ask me to then to meet and greets in a big hall with all those people. Not fun. (see #1-6 above).  Of course, I was required to do this at these conferences. So, I had a deal with my boss. I'd do it for 2 hours, then I was done. No drinking and dancing with customers afterward. No, schmoozing in the lounge. I would do the small talk, meet and greet for two hours only. That was my limit. (I think it still is my limit) Then I would go back to my room and crash.

9. When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench -– not in the middle.  
This one doesn't apply. Most of the time I don't have a choice where to sit. But I cope with this by always having a book to read. I can zone out everyone around me with a good book.

11. You're in a relationship with an extrovert. Nope. My husband is an introvert and an iconoclast. Always interesting and he understand me perfectly.  I've dated extroverts in the past. They were fun for awhile, but ultimately exhausting.

12-15, 17, and 21  didn't really apply to me.

16. You have a constantly running inner monologue.  Yes. I'm always evaluating the past, present, and future in terms of what I'm hearing, learning, and doing. I've tried to shut it off, but I can't. It's just who I am. Fortunately, some people think that's cool. I've also fooled them into thinking I'm wise. (see # 18. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s.)

20. You look at the big picture. Yes, this is me in every aspect of my life AND in my writing. I think in abstracts, rather than details.  I can do details. I've trained myself to do it, but I don't enjoy it. To me the whole world is one big system, and every part of it effects every other part. I can't stop and analyze one part/section out of context with the whole system. Of course, thinking this way also means you never have a 100% right answer to anything which can be frustrating to many people.

Also, I DON'T think this is a quality of all introverts. I personally doubt it is related to introversion or extroversion. I think it is a separate part of personality that can work with both.

22. You’re a writer.  Duh! :)  However, again I don't think this career choice is only for introverts. I know a number of writers who are extroverts and I love their books.

I think most authors' writing fits the Karma principle because you are writing in the hopes that what you write helps people, moves people, entertains people. In other words, it gives them something they need. That is certainly why I write. My non-fiction books are teaching books. They teach the reader how to do something, to accomplish something. My fiction books are similar in that they are sharing how my characters overcome difficult circumstances/issues on their own initiative and--because they are good people--find their happily-ever-after or happy-for-now in life.  And the Karma coming back is the sales of the book. If the book offers enough of what people need, it sells well.

23. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity. 
Yes, and, for me, each phase is "intense" and probably over the top (except the social activity part). When I'm working it is all encompassing, and when I'm in recovery (solitude) it is all encompassing. My social activity is more around sharing things we learn. Because I don't have to do small talk social stuff anymore, I don't socialize just for socializing sake.

So that's me. How about you? Want to join the meme? Let me know where you blog your responses and I'll come visit, tweet, FB (yeah, I know that's kind of social isn't it).  Don't want to do your own blog post? Fine, leave a comment or not.  I know you understand anyway.


Collette Cameron said...

Please dear, you must stop writing my personal thoughts on your blog!

I'm an introvert though I've gotten much better in social situations. I don't like them, but I fake it well.

I so need to join meme!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

LOL on writing your thoughts, Collette. Definitely, join the meme. Just blog about your introversion on a future post and let me know to come read it. I suspect there are a lot of us out there--both as writers and readers, as well as in the corporate world. One of the things the article said was that 40% of CEOs were introverts. You see, we can take over the world. We just don't yell from the rooftops about it. :)

Angie said...

I came across your blog entry on introverts, and found it very entertaining (& eerily similar to the way I operate in the world--introverted husband and all). When I have more time (I have a three-year-old), I will have to follow your meme. For now, I'll just write that I started a blog for introverted moms--a place that I hope offers solace and serenity. I thought you might enjoy sneaking a peek after reading your entry. I will check out your books next time I'm in the bookstore!