One of the fascinating things I learned from one of the classes at school is that some of my responses to the world is not about PTSD/CPTSD at all. I am an introvert. I crave home alone time. I need time by myself to recharge my batteries. Sometimes my no peopling days is more about being an introvert than it is about stressing from PTSD. This is one persons experience that they encouraged to share. If you click on the links it will take you to Facebook on your feed. No I do not have access to your feed it is how Facebook handles links. Enjoy!
IN A WORLD THAT ONLY SHOUTS: THOUGHTS ON INTROVERSION
I’ve been escorted out of dance clubs more than once. After falling asleep in a back room somewhere, sprawled out on a mangy couch, I’ve been repeatedly woken up by security and shown the front door. The burly, heavily tattooed men assumed I had consumed large amounts of alcohol, but this was rarely the case. I had fallen asleep because I was exhausted. I was tired from writing papers and studying for exams, but what ultimately sucked the life out of me were the annoying young people paying outrageous prices for mediocre cocktails in tight quarters as terrible music boomed through towering speakers. For three years, I felt compelled to take part in these late-night frivolities. Other university students seemed to be enjoying themselves, and I often wondered why I couldn’t just relax and have a good time.
Almost twenty years have passed since my failed attempts to boogie-woogie with the hip kids, but I’m no better at pretending to have a good time in crowded rooms. I avoid house parties, I go for afternoon coffee half an hour before the bookstore closes, and I shop for groceries after dinner when I’m less likely to have to make small talk with a dozen people whose names I forget. Some may label me as ‘shy’ or ‘pretentious’ or ‘selectively social’ (and they may be right), but I prefer the term ‘introverted’. Teaching is a highly social profession, so it would follow that all teachers must be extroverts. But that’s not true. While I enjoy lunching with other teachers and chatting with parents, I am desperate for a cup of tea and a sleeping cat in a sunbeam by four o’clock.
I experience mixed emotions when dealing with extroverts. Sometimes I’m jealous at how easily this half of the population can seamlessly move from one meaningless conversation to another. It is said that extroverts are socially active, are likely to move ahead in their professional lives, and express their feelings easily as compared to introverts. They’re often gregarious and full of life and charismatic. And yet I have little patience for those that must establish dominance when shaking my hand or punching me in the arm, like some half-wit orangutan. I’m certainly not interested in someone bellowing in the back alley when I’m trying to focus on my work.
It’s a common perception that extroverts make great first impressions, love being a part of a team, can network easily, and are confident risk takers that can speak their mind. Between the open-plan offices and team brainstorming sessions, the workplace is increasingly an extrovert’s playground. But the world needs introverts to create and to lead. Introverts are prudent, learn by listening, leverage their quiet nature, demonstrate humility, manage uncertainty, and are comfortable working alone. Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates and Steven Spielberg all identify as being introverted.
To promote learning in the classroom, teachers encourage their students to engage in discussions by asking and answering questions. Many include class participation as part of the overall grade. New curriculum standards favour student-centered, activity-based group projects, and those who argue to work on their own are seen as problem cases. Though an introvert myself, I often forget what it must be like for many of my students who would prefer a quiet place to organize their thoughts rather than having to bring attention to themselves and consistently prove they understand the material. When I was a student, I found it difficult to connect with extroverted teachers – especially when they focused all their attention on those who played sports and won trophies and strutted around in shiny blue basketball shorts. I often wondered why the poets, painters and photographers were not acknowledged in the same way as their athletic counterparts during the morning announcements.
Solitude is a crucial ingredient to creativity, and I always savour my time alone in the woods to work out any issues I may have. But solitude is not celebrated today. Tales of pilgrimage have made way for tales of action, and we continue to invest in those that bark the loudest. Despite all the cautionary warnings, the United States elected someone who is unmistakably extroverted and now must deal with that mistake. How easily we forget that introverts can also successfully ignore the status quo and push for change; the difference is that they have no need for the spotlight and have far less ego. Perhaps the lesson to be learned is that in business, school and politics, the most effective thing can be a whisper in a world that only shouts. **The photo below was taken at Glendalough, an early monastic settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. It’s a stunning place to go for solitary walks.
**Like, comment, share. Feel free to reflect on your own experiences of being an introvert or an extrovert, or maybe you exist on the borderlands between the two.
If you are interested in learning more about introverts check out this article on 9 signs of being an Introvert.