Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Not shy

This is a picture of my two boy cats attempting to illustrate one of the positions in the Kama Sutra, which is really creepy as they are brothers.

Introvert. It's a word that gets thrown about a lot. As my friend Kim says, "They think it means we're shy. HA!" But we know better. Apparently, about 25% of people are introverts.

To me it means a couple of things. One is about how i process life events. If i am hurt or upset, i need to think about it for a while before i can talk about the problem. I am not one of those people who calls up a friend after having a fight with the Mister to talk. I need to figure it all out and reduce the hurt level first. I don't like to talk about a book or movie that has moved me. I need to keep it close for awhile and polish the memory. The Mister is an extrovert and likes to walk out of the theater and start discussing the movie immediately. I have learned to be better about this, for his sake, but sometimes i can't.

The other thing it means to me is the energy it takes to interact with people. I love having people around, but after some amount of time, i need down time. As they say, stick a fork in me, i am done. When we have people over, and they make going home noises, i am good with that, especially if it's late. The Mister just keeps on talking, often following them out to the car. This drives me crazy.

It doesn't mean i am not social. I used to manage a group at work, and that required lots of meetings and talking, and sometimes giving presentations. I was pretty good at it. I got to be a bit of a ham during presentations, and i got lots of positive feedback on the evaluation forms. It was fun.

But i am still an introvert. I have lots of alone time, but i am seldom lonely. Many, many years ago, in high school, someone called me "morbidly introspective". As a teenager, that was cetainly true, now i am perhaps only "slightly morbidly introspective".

Many of you have indentified yourselves as introverts too, What does that mean to you?


Karen Jacobs said...

It means awakening between 4 and 5am to have the house entirely to myself (my mister is in residence all day, every day); creating a community online via lists and blogs that I can interact with on my terms; the ability to spend long hours interacting with paint and canvas to suit myself; and wishing to be home after 3 or 4 days away. The exception to the latter was a month's art residency in France without family... everyone thought I couldn't do it, would want to come home as usual... but I never had that feeling, I enjoyed being unresponsible for ANYONE but myself! Perhaps an introvert is basically selfish?

Tracy Helgeson said...

I am often shocked to find myself in a large family. I love to be alone and like Karen, I don't like to be away from home very long. I do tend to chat a lot when I run into people, but more often I go for days without speaking to anyone but my family.

I am definitely selfish, after being at their beck and call for 9 years I need my time alone now and I can get kinda rude when the kids won't leave me alone for 2 minutes. I flip when they knock on the bathroom door to ask me a question.

Surprisingly, though I don't consider myself an introvert. But maybe I am.

urban-urchin said...

Like Tracy I don't consider myself an introvert but I crave alone time. When the kids are away I have to make myself go out with my husband because frankly I'm happy to hang out by myself. But put me in a room with people and I'll talk (too much I suspect) and be gregarious with the best of them.

Teri M. said...

Good grief, that picture is HI-larious!

Reading your description, I would have to admit that I, too, am an introvert. Much more so as an adult, but trained up for it as a child. My brother and sister are so much older than I that was practically an only child, so I am used to quality alone time with my books and myself. As an adult, add my computer and the craft and stamp store that apparently exploded in my office. I feel, though, that it has possibly affected my social life in regards to people I don't know. I'm fine with close friends and family, but often I'm very uncomfortable with strangers. I need to work on that.

Josephine said...

I think you captured it very well. In my personal life, I am a total introvert, but if I have work to do, I can be as extroverted as Britney Spears.

But, a lot of alone time is definitely necessary. I've never been one to be happy or comfortable in large groups.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself an introvert but compared to my husband and sons, I am by far the most extroverted one in the family. Even my dog is an introvert. My cat, however, is pretty extroverted by cat standards.


Anonymous said...

I am not an introvert at all.

But I do believe it means sticking your foot down your throat a whole lot less than, say, I do. Lucky you.

Andrea Frazer said...

I am an extrovert who is learning, just this week ironically, to be an introvert. I can run and run and run and run and never take time to myself, and then wonder why I am having a panic attack on the way to Stink's preschool. My husband is a complete introvert, and it used to bug me, but now he completes me. He's the "string on my balloon" and I am learning to find beauty in stillness, just as he is learning to be more social (such as Meno's past management job - that's my boy these days.) Nice post. I'm off to light my candle and shower while the kids nap - before I'm forced into extrovert land again!

meno said...

You all are so interesting. I love it.

KJ, I would get up at that hour too if it was all the alone time i had. And i think interacting on the internet is such a relaxing way to go. As you say, it's on my terms. It's why i prefer e-mail to the telephone.

Tracy, i too would FLIP OUT if someone knocked on the door whilst i was in the bathroom. I don't know if there is any value in the label "introvert". I do find it an interesting way to talk about differences.

urban, I too can be quite gregarious at times. But i do have a harder time than the Mister starting a conversation with a stranger.

teri, glad you like my cat picture! I too would like to learn to be more comfortable with strangers. The Mister will walk up to someone and start chatting with them, where i think "they probably don't want to talk to me."

josephine, I have this wonderful image of you dancing in your skivvies on a table at work, wearing a headset and singing.

Liz, an extroverted cat? That must be interesting.

cat, I wish that being more introverted kept me from sticking my large feet in my mouth. But sadly, no.

mamap, I am available for lessons. :) The "string on my balloon" is a lovely turn of phrase.

Tracy Helgeson said...

I should add that in my college days, when I was drinking, I was totally an extrovert. I could talk to anyone about anything and could do it pretty well. Now that I don't drink I struggle with being social and am much less skilled at it than I used to be. I stumble over my words, forget what I am saying, and always feel like I am an idiot in most social situations.

Except at the art openings. I usually do ok there.

Lucia said...

What you've written here is SO me. One big difference I've noticed between introverts and extroverts is that introverts renew while by themselves, and extroverts renew while they're with other people. I too need my down time (which is exactly what I call it) to re-energize and renew. I am surprised at this percentage. For whatever reason, I thought maybe the intro-extro was an even split.

Running out of energy being with people too much...yes!

Analyzing a movie right, please don't!

Liking (sometimes craving) alone time...definitely!

Bill said...

Your cats look like my cat only she's female and considerably older.

I'm definitely an introvert. What's that mean? Heavens, I could write forever about that. Let's say I prefer calm to chaos, though chaos has its moments. I like people but I always reach my limit and need to get away. Your description captured it pretty well.

If you're familiar with Myers-Briggs personality tests, I'm an INFP.The "I" stands for Introvert and the other letters basically mean, "big time introvert!"

Antonia Cornwell said...

Something we do quite often in our group of friends - now that we're just too old to go clubbing - is hire a big old country house for a weekend and go down in a group of 12-20. Everyone has their own space, everyone finds something to do without being a pain to anyone else, and we all get to see each other in a quiet, homely environment, instead of standing around in a bar for the sake of it and shouting over the music. (God I hate that.) My favourite part of a weekend like this is the Sunday morning: a drawing-room or kitchen full of people all sitting quietly in separate chairs, reading the papers, sharing an introverted hour or two. It's nice to share quiet times and when you find someone you can do that with, that's a great friendship, for me.

At nursery school, I would often be found away from all the other kids, reading a book in the toilets. I've been a bit of a curmudgeon since a very tender age. I definitely need my down time. I miss smoking for that reason - the excuse to step outside and stop listening to the sound of everyone's voices for a minute or two.

Lucia said...

What I'm loving about this string of comments is that right now, just reading them, I feel comforted knowing there are other people out there like me. On the whole, I don't care much about what people think. And I'm properly social and all that. Most of the people around me (probably 75% or more!) are extroverts, and they don't quite get need for down time and the high value I put on having time alone and needing breaks from people.

Lynnea said...

I can't decide which I am but I think I lean more towards extrovert with a quiet streak.

Anonymous said...

C.G Jung has some very interesting things to say about introverts/extroverts. For him it has a lot to do with the manner in wich individuals process their surroundings.Our culture favors extroverts. As a singer, I always believed myself to be an extrovert but have found through extensive reading and therapy that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact most of the performers I work with are, in my humble untrained, opinion, introverts as well...

Bill said...

Mike Myers had the best line when explaining his public persona versus his quietness: "I'm a site-specific extrovert."

meno said...

Tracy, ah alcohol, the cure for intoversion. I wonder if you do ok at art shows because 1.) it's business and 2.) it's your area of comfort.

lucia, i too am suprised at the 25% figure. It seems like the majority of people i know are introverts, but maybe i just do things where they gather, like blogging. We need a secret handshake.

Bill, i too am an INFP. But the only one of these that was really clear on the scale was the I, the rest were pretty weak. Love the Mike Meyers comment. So true.

antonia, Sigh, that sounds like a lovely time. And my idea of hell IS a dance club where i can only talk to the two people sitting on either side of me by shouting in their ears. Shudder.

D-man, (Smiling) somehow, i suspected that.

maggie, all people have some mix of both things, introverts certainly have to learn some extroverted behaviors to survive, and the other way too.

caro, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Interesting about the performers. Who would have thought?

Tracey said...

has more going on inside than is apparent outside. or something.

sorry, that's as close as i'm gonna get tonight.

meno said...

sweetney, it's too late on the east coast for deep insights. We here in the west are still all perky though. Ha.

amusing said...

A friend is a Myers-Briggs expert and it was she who told me that an introvert will look away when talking to you about something, because they are taking a moment in their minds to confirm they mean what they are saying.

An extrovert will tell you without that moment, but they might not mean it later. It is a thought of the moment.

A useful thing to consider for business and personal relationships.

As for me, I'll take a moment to pause and consider. I always mean what I say because I've thought it over. I'm terrified of people but don't know if that makes me an introvert or just insecure. "In" anyway....