Introverted Me

What follows is a draft of an article I wrote and just submitted to Susan Cain’s website. I got Susan’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, on CD a few months back and listened to it while driving. It was so refreshing and freeing. I have always felt like I was more prone to introversion and because I’ve taken the Meyers-Briggs a few times knew it was a part of my personality, although I didn’t understand what that meant. Susan unlocked that all for me. I recently found her website and began reading some of the articles; I came across one that prompted me to write the following:

I recently read an article about why winter is the season for introverts. As winter has passed, I’m obviously a little behind, but it interested me for two reasons. One, I’ve recently learned to embrace my inner introvert and am currently hyper aware of any discussions on the topic and two, I disagreed with the article.

Some people in my life are surprised to learn I am an introvert. Those who know me casually especially, but even those who know me pretty well. I suppose I have adapted to an extrovert world and have become pretty good at fitting into it. But in reality, I need quiet alone time in order to recharge and in order to be happy. This is how I know I am an introvert. During winter it is harder for me to find these times.

I live in a small apartment and I work in an overcrowded elementary school. Winter means more people inside, specifically kids, who I think, are especially draining for an introvert because of their need for supervision and attention. At home I have two rambunctious boys who try my patience, but are also hard to get away from in our small two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. If I need quiet time I must find it before they wake up or after they have gone to sleep. In my job, at the elementary school, recess and extra free times are more often inside in the winter. Small classrooms filled with 25-35 kids feels very overwhelming at times and respite mid-day can be impossible.

Now I admit that the nature of my job means that I largely have from mid June to early September to my own leisure. But even with that admission I say summer is the season for this introvert.

The article I read spoke of warm coco, blankets and curling up on the couch to read in the winter; how you can basically hibernate. I understand that, but I would counter that the winter also brings the holiday season, winter concerts, staff parties and the most dreadful of all, Christmas shopping. While I enjoy a snowy excuse to curl up with a good book as much as the next introvert, I also know those other activities I just mentioned, they produce a lot of anxiety in my otherwise peaceful winter.

Warm weather for me means outside and sunshine. It means the kids play more frequently on the playground, both my own and the ones I work with. Summer means quiet hikes and jogs by myself or with a contemplative friend. It means my kids go out to play and I get the place to myself to soak up the quiet.

But my most frequent cozy, warm weather place? My small garden, 3rd story deck. From the first balmy days of early spring it becomes a retreat to drink tea or wine and read or cat nap. Even if the kids are home, the sliding glass door becomes a gateway of peace between the chaos of the house and the serenity of nature. Albeit, my own small, third story bit of nature.

It is really that easy connection with nature which the warmer months bring that excites my introvert heart. I find that in the spring and summer, even places where people congregate a quiet green space can often be found. In the park or downtown, a fairground or outdoor concert. There is also a fringe, an edge where a lovely tree or patch of grass begs for a bit of meditation. “Come and sit, relax and watch”, it begs.

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