Introverts - We Band of Brothers
In two recent posts, we challenged the conventional wisdom that introversion is supposed to be a bad thing. In my first post, I defended this trait, noting that:
I am a card-carrying introvert, myself, and I pity all those gregarious glad-handing chatterboxes out there who seem to have no insight into the rich inner world that I experience every day.
But I also pointed out that extraverts make up the majority of the planet, so we’re the ones who are forced to adjust, not them. To add insult to injury, as I observed in my second post, psychiatry endorses individuals with high extraversion scores. This despite the fact that I know an extravert could not do my job - or, most likely, yours.
To update from last week: I have been squirreled away in my quiet corner of the universe, blotting out all distractions, in single-pointed concentration, mucking out the Augean stables that is my mcmanweb website. I am at my keyboard at about nine every morning, and I call it a day around midnight. I have my favorite music going, and I take frequent breaks - cooking and cleaning, stretching, breathing, practicing my didgeridoo, going out for walks, curling up with a book and a hot chocolate.
I am in my element. I live to write and I live inside my own head. This is my version of heaven on earth. An extravert - a citizen in “a nation of Rotarians” as LadyBehindtheMask commented here - would be climbing walls in my situation. Or, if Citizen Rotarian happened to make an appearance, he would be dragging me out the door with a dolphin-unfriendly seine net into the cold waters of his world, thinking he was doing me a favor.
I, on the other hand, would be fending him off with a cactus plant I forgot to water. Thirty seconds of conversational banality with one of these empty-brained loudmouths is more than I can stomach.
A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited, hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave ...
(Sorry, I couldn’t resist a little Shakespeare.)
No, give me my world any day.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle; This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars; This other Eden, demi-paradise ...
Oh, and by the way, introversion nearly killed me.
I have of late - but wherefore I know not - lost all my mirth, forgone all
custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory ...
Back then, had Citizen Rotarian dragged me out the door, he would have spared me suffering too painful to recall. My other Eden - my sceptered isle - had turned into Caliban’s cave.
The spirit torments me; Oh!
The extraverts are right about one thing. Strange things happen to our brains when we shut ourselves off from the outside world for too long. Extraverts need to come up for air, fast, which is why they could never do my job or, for that matter, spend a cozy winter in Antarctica manning a one-person meteorological outpost. But, eventually, there comes a time when I can’t do my job, either.
They can’t spend too much time in my world. I can’t spend too much time in theirs. But for my own sanity, I do need to set aside special time for their world. Of all things, once I acclimate myself to the chill waters, I do enjoy myself. I perk up, I become animated. Neurons spark. I make connections.
But the effort drains me, and I have to return to my world, though this time not forever.
My last ten days have been unusual, even by my standards, and fairly soon I will be coming up for air. A few more days of sprinting a marathon, then I’m meeting someone for lunch. Then, shorter working days, more people time - meetings, hanging out, networking, play ...
It’s all about balance. My concept of balance is very different from an extravert’s concept of balance, or, for that matter psychiatry’s concept of balance. We’re the minority. The majority out there is never going to understand us. They think that what’s good for them is good for us. They’re wrong, of course, but every once in awhile they’re right. We need to make the effort.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers ...