Saturday, November 24, 2012


I followed a link on twitter today that led me to TED Talks and the talk, "Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts". I have known for years that I am an introvert. I was also extremely shy when I was younger. Although, I have outgrown my shyness for the most part and only a small part clings to me in certain new situations I am still very much introverted. I identified with several things in this talk. My Dad and I are avid readers but my Mom and brother are not. To me growing up I could read in the solace of my own room or in a busy room filled with people doing various activities. In college, one of my roommates, who is now my best friend and I spent lots of time reading in the same room. There was a period of time where we weren't getting along for some reason (I don't recall anymore why) but I do recall feeling lonely. We were in an apartment at that stage instead of a dorm room. Even though she was in the apartment she would isolate herself in her room while I sat out in the living room hoping she would come out to read. I didn't care if we didn't talk. I just wanted the presence of her there. Eventually things worked themselves out. I have even enjoyed hanging out with that special guy reading while he played his video games. While I don't play video games I can understand being sucked into another world and so to me it is fine to do our different activities together sometimes. I know in college it was a struggle for me when I was in the dorm room because it was just one small room that I had to share with a person all the time. I enjoyed when my roommates when home. Sometimes if they were gone and I was alone in the room I wouldn't answer the door. I didn't want to accept whatever invitation they had and didn't have a good reason for saying no, other than I wanted to be alone. I also remember in college and even now sometimes when I just want to stay home and enjoy a nice, quiet evening a voice in my head ( from different people who have said this to me over and over) that networking is important and you don't meet people being at home and so I need to go out to whatever event that it is, even when I really don't want to and force myself to say hi to all these people I don't know and get to know them, blah, blah, blah. I do it and sometimes I enjoy myself but most of the time I am glad when the night is over and I am back to my solitude. I will also admit that most of the time I greatly admire extroverts and how they are just go, go, go all the time. I wish I could be more outgoing like them.

I do see that many schools are set up for more extroverts. I know even in my own classroom in order to try to meet the different learning styles there is always a conflict. If we do several group activities the introverts aren't happy because they want to work alone. Sometimes I do let them work alone , as I understand being an introvert, but sometimes I do want them to learn how to work with other people, because we do have to do that. Other times if we have several solitary activities that we are doing the extroverts complain that we don't do enough activities together. I think it is important though to learn to work by oneself as not everything in life can be a group activity. In the US I had my own classrooms and I was able to be in their during my planning period, so it helped me get through the day by having that alone time to work. In overseas schools that I have taught in I have had to share either classrooms with my desk in the classroom, so that during my planning there are other classes taking place in that room (there was no where else to go) and I have worked in a school where all the teachers of the same faculty had their desks all in the same room. So, in both cases there is really no escape during the day to have solitude and think or really get in the zone and get things done. I think it is also more draining not having any real down time during the day. It is definitely still an adjustment that I am working on finding a way to deal with and make it work for me. I have always struggled with participating as a student and now chaperoning as an adult, school trips, because there is really no down time other than some sleeping. If it is for a vacation I like to travel alone, but if I travel with others I have to make sure I carve out time just for myself or I start to get grumpy. It works best if I travel with someone similar to me, so we both take our own alone time. It can be challenge to travel with an extrovert who wants to be with me at all times.

I even feel with social networking that it really can be more for extroverted people. There are many things I create and think that I don't share. I keep those things to myself just like I did before I started Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging. I create for myself and sometimes I will share but a vast amount I still keep to myself. It is a struggle because there are tons of great discussions on twitter and thought provoking tweets. There are lots of great blogs out there too. I want to share so that people will know that I am trying to contribute and not just take, take, take, but it can be very hard. Some of it may be shyness creeping back up since this is new to me and I wonder what people think when I tweet something or if I were to share one of the songs I have on Soundcloud or pictures that I have taken and edited on Instagram. I know that several of the people I follow are extroverts and they have also been doing things much longer than I have, so they are comfortable in their online skin. With online people all around the world can see my things that I post on twitter, instagram, my blogs. How much do I want people who have never met me to know? How much do I want those people that I have met to know? There are somethings that I only want the people closed to me to know. Some of it has, of course, to do with trust. How much do I trust someone whom I have never met with my poetry, if I were to put it online? On the other hand, I write my poetry for me, about very personal things, and don't want other people's opinions or validation on it.
I think living overseas being an introvert can be different than back home. In one country I was really the only expat at school and  the other expat women in the town didn't work, so it was easier to have lots of solitude. In another country there is a larger expat community at school and there are a few international schools, so there is more pressure to be social. At first that was exciting after two years of lots of solitude, but now I am worn out. I think with just small expat communities, in my experience,  it can be harder to find another introvert to just hang out reading together with. I also feel I have to be more outgoing to bridge that gap, so that I can learn about a different culture, which is part of why I moved overseas. If I stuck mostly to myself I wouldn't learn much about the country I am living in and the people or their culture.
So, it is nice to know that I am not the only one who enjoys reading in the same room as someone else who is reading. Or who pushed herself to go out to socialize and network when I would really rather be at home experiment with a new recipe. Or that many work environments are set up more for the extrovert. I don't know if others find that social networking seems more geared for the extrovert, but there might be someone out there that does. The main thing for me is reflecting. This talk made me reflect, which is something I do quite often; however, in this case, I am going to share my reflections because there may be other introverts out there that feel this way and will be glad to know that they aren't the only one.

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