Introvert or extrovert? Either/or? Both/and?
Both/and would be my choice.
My friends may see a friendly extrovert who enjoys meeting new people, trying new things, taking a leadership role. I miss teaching very much. I actually enjoy public speaking, and may even be thought… rarely of course… to be overly fond of telling stories and to talk rather a lot. But that is not all of me, all of the time.
Listening to Susan Cain’s presentation on TED was informative and reassuring. Not only that, she showed one of my favourite books, Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood.
I really liked her three summary points: 1) stop the madness of constant group work: everyone needs privacy, freedom, and autonomy to think deeply and creatively; 2) go to the wilderness: seek solitude and cherish the peace and quiet; and 3) look in your suitcase: value yourself and your own interests and draw energy and joy from that awareness.
We are a household of introverts. My husband plays the piano for hours and spends the rest of the day reading, working in his journal, and taking long solitary walks. My son is a reader, author, poet, novelist, linguist, collector of books. He likes long periods of uninterrupted time to do whatever interests him in the moment. I am a reader, I love to write, and I enjoy the quiet contemplation and creativity of needlework.
All three of us also cope well with extrovert activities.
I always wanted to be a teacher, and that meant I had to learn the skills appropriate to classroom management… leadership, organization, public speaking, etcetera. Even a naturally introverted teacher must learn to behave as an extrovert to survive, let alone succeed at, the stresses of the classroom life and the collegial responsibilities of working on a large staff. Professional Activity Day workshops offered classes in assertiveness training, creativity development, learning styles, and group dynamics. I also had the opportunity to teach workshops in areas of special interest, and to travel and address large groups of both parents and colleagues.
So I have the best of both worlds!
Both the Atlantic Monthly and The Globe and Mail have recently had excellent articles on introverts. They say that there are many more introverts than we might expect, and that our education systems and society in general misunderstand them and undervalue what they have to offer society. Maybe the pendulum is starting to swing back.
“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But Susan Cain argues that introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated… ”
Food for thought !