Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Would you believe...?

I am an introvert. Don't believe me? It's true.

A little rambling background to set the stage:

A couple weeks ago I received a new Time magazine. Conveniently it comes to my nook 24 hours before it arrives in my mail. Gives me a jump on the topics. I was able to use it for two completely different, but urgent deadlines, for my classes. LOL. First, I had to analyze if it was skewed to one gender or the other. My analysis: men, but only slightly because of the actual ad composition. Both the lack of people, and when people were pictured, it was 3-1 males appearing in the picture. But Time magazine has been a staple in my life since I was 12 years old. My parents always had a subscription and I got one as a graduation present from high school since I was headed to college to study political science. IMHO, there is no better general consumer source for political news. There are lots of professional level political sources, and I've had subscriptions to them at one time or another, like Foreign Service Journal. And as a journalist, I received Columbia Journalism Review for a number of years.

Anyway, this issue of Time magazine had on the cover "The Power of (shyness)" with a little kid with a bullhorn standing in the corner of the room. The cover article was "The Upside of Being an Introvert (And Why Extroverts are Overrated)" by Brian Walsh. Great article. Read it through and then the associated sidebars and the related health advice column by Dr. Oz. I absorbed the graphic about introvert and extrovert presidents (made a lot of sense). Then, even though I am not a "Cosmo" type (taking all those intimate quizzes for women in Cosmopolitan; I really don't need to know my sexual potency IQ) I decided to take the quiz for rating oneself on the spectrum of extrovert-introvert.

And therein lay the surprise.

I predicted I was probably a mid-streamer and would have a result somewhere between 9 and 12. After all, I spend a lot of time out in public areas, work with people, volunteer to do things when I'm part of a group, etc. Boy was I wrong. On a scale of 1-20, with 1 being an extreme extrovert and 20 being an extreme introvert, I rated a 17.

Huh? Then I thought about it. I am an oldest child and being "out there" was particularly expected of me. However, I always feel frazzled afterwards, even when nothing goes wrong. Now I know why. Because no matter how adept I am at it, being "out there" isn't really my natural mien. I always wondered why I came home from school days as a kid exhausted, even though I was upbeat and positive. Turns out that many people for me is exhausting. As a child I nosedived into books for hours as my escape. By middle school, I was writing. When I was a journalist, I preferred the one-on-one interviews to the "breaking news" cattle runs surrounded by dozens of other news teams. It's probably why I didn't last long in that field actively. I ended up freelancing.

Even now, I will give a person a hundred percent of my attention and myself, but then afterward I need to curl up in a corner and spend time alone to get my reserves back. As a teacher, I've also struck a balance. I eat lunch quietly. I go to the bathroom between classes, just to take a few deep breaths, remind myself not to take any negative energy from the previous class with me into the next one. At the end of a school day I'll nap. A couple hours later I can get up and go about my personal activities.

Thankfully my spouse is well-adjusted to my introvert ways, knowing how to balance our public outings between frenzied people-filled parties and quieter opportunities to interact with just a couple or two.

Hail the introverts! (Go Obama!) If you're interested in reading the Time magazine, it's the February 6, 2012 U.S. edition.

A holiday final note: On this Valentine's Day, I am separated from my sweetie, who is announcing a girls' regional basketball semifinal for our local high school. Go Grenadiers! But I am not sitting home alone. I am off to my night education class with just 20 others. And I'll probably collapse right into bed afterward.

To all celebrating today, enjoy!

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