This month the NovelTea book club is reading Quiet by Susan Cain and it’s all about Introversion and it’s been nothing but ‘aha!’ moments for me. I’m not going to lie to you though, I got this book on audiobook after all my long trips were over so it’s been taking me a bit to get through it and i’m not quite done yet (which also puts me behind in discussion boo!) But aside from telling you all how i’m being the worst bookclub member ever I wanted to use this linkup opportunity to tell my own personal introversion story because it’s something that took me a while to accept.
I’m outspoken and I’m loud. Very loud. I’m opinionated and i’m not afraid to share those opinions with you because above all else, i’m passionate. I’m a type A personality who was always taking over class projects, and always rallying people around causes. So I think you can see why it took me a while to realize i’m actually an introvert.
Introversion for me doesn’t mean “doesn’t like to be around people” instead it means “i’ll be around people, i’ll even take charge of situations, but then I need some space to decompress.” I’m a pasionate person but standing up for that passion also takes a lot out of me. It takes all my energy to advocate for the things I care about and I find myself bouncing between my ups and downs as I drain and then recharge after social interactions.
Throughout school and work I was never afraid to speak up but I was always hesitant. I was nervous around big groups. I felt awkward speaking up but most of the time I would speak up because I honestly just think that things won’t get done efficiently if i’m not in the mix. I hate parties though and I really don’t even like large ‘gatherings’ of any sort, even concerts. For years I thought it was just because I had social anxiety but eventually I started to look at how I handled myself in social vs. professional situations and realized that the reason I was so much more willing to speak up in a professional situations is because when i’m at work I can hide behind my work personality and when it’s social it’s just me. I have nothing to hide behind, i’m just giving all of me. Social me is the real me and at work I wear my personality like a suit of armor and it makes me feel braver because for some reason i’ve convinced myself that i’m not giving much of myself.
I never liked telling people that I had to put on a persona in order to get through the work day but it’s exactly how I handle things. I pretend it’s not all me and it’s so much easier to decompress. I always found it much easier to be bright and bubbly and conversational at work because it wasn’t real. I worked retail from the age of 17 to 22 and by the time I switched over to teaching I had this work persona thing down to a science. Now that i’m a teacher I feel those same skills could come into play but I can’t just put on a persona anymore, I can’t be fake to my kids.
I won’t lie to you, work is exhausting. Not just because i’m working my tail off but because of the constant interaction I have with my students and all the attention I need to pay to their individual needs. But I do just fine most of the time because usually my personal life offers me plenty of space to just go home, be by myself or with Mando and the dogs, and essentially be alone. I get all the down time I need. But finding the balance is hard and there are definitely some days I manage it better than others. If i’ve currently got a lot on my plate outside of work I find that it’s much harder to be there for my kids emotionally. I have to force myself to be interactive instead of just instructive and I have to really really realllllyyy focus on not just isolating myself from them because I can’t handle all of those teenage emotions.
Teaching obviously isn’t the only place that my introversion effects me but it’s definitely the biggest place in my life. It’s also what has helped me realize what I need and how to get in when it comes to self care. I can’t let myself be burned out in my personal life if i’m going to be an effective teacher so it’s taught me to say no to things I don’t want to do. Previously i’ve always felt obligated to go places and meet people and do things but now because I know that I have to interact and create relationships for a living it’s really made me learn to only say yes to things that will recharge me, to only go to functions full of people that will drain me if I can afford the emotional space.
Luckily for me I also don’t need to be alone in order to recharge. There are certain people that can fill up me up just in the same way other people drain me. My best friends, and now my partner, have always been people who are calm enough to handle me. They’ve always been the calm balance to my intensity, and they also have always been extroverts themselves. But they’ve also been really great at respecting my boundaries and my needs when it comes to just hanging out one on one and sometimes I need them to push me to do things in life! To get out of the house and meet people when i’m using my anxiety and introversion as an excuse.
It took me a long time to find out how to take care of myself and realizing that i’m an introvert despite all of those extroverted characteristics was a huge step in me becoming a happier person, a more adventurous person, and best of all, a better teacher.
If you’d like to join the linkup feel free to write about your experience with introversion or extroversion and add yourself to the linkup!
Thanks for listening.
Until next time,