10 April, 2012

I is for Introvert

You can find a full list of my A to Z challenge posts here. :)

Most everyone has heard of introverts and extroverts. Extroverts are easy to spot. They're the people dancing around at parties and leading meetings and, frankly, kissing babies and shaking hands during political season. They take jobs in marketing and sales and rally others to their causes. They love the limelight, attention, and big events, and usually have lots and lots of friends. They like the new, the bright, the shiny, the trendy, the dangerous. Generally speaking, extroverts take chances and love to party.

Introverts, on the other hand, don't. We tend to stay home, have a few close friends, and avoid loud, boisterous events. Heck, some of us (like me) don't even have cell phones. ;)

It's not that we're shy. Some of us are, yes, but shy is another thing all together. Shyness implies fear of speaking with other people and while some introverts are shy, most of us aren't rendered mute by another's presence or fear speaking with others, or even reaching out to others. No, it's more about the quietness of solitude, and the comfort of familiarity. New things are approached with caution, not gusto, and when we get uncomfortable, we retreat to safer ground. Generally speaking, introverts skip the party and stay home.

I am, most definitely, an introvert.

I suck at personal conflict and confrontation (unless of course I am so angry that it overwhelms my instinctual desire to back off) and I never, ever do anything - or dress in any way - that calls attention to my presence. While I have no trouble actually speaking to groups of people, like when I give readings or talks (because, let's face it, I'm not shy), the mere thought of 'going to a convention' where there will be hundreds of strangers and bright flashy events and zero chance that I'll be able to control what's happening around me, well, I freak the heck out.

It's not the speaking that bothers me, it's being in a strange, overwhelming place. I tell ya, if everyone would just come to my house, that'd be great. lol

A lot of people have heard of the MeyersBriggs personality test. I am clear, waaaaay far off to the very edge of the 'I' on the introvert/extrovert scale. Back when I was in counseling for depression and PTSD, my therapist told me she'd never seen anyone with such a low score, so low in fact, it barely registered on the scale at all.

That explains why I am, apparently, invisible.

In all seriousness, my extreme, almost crippling introversion is one more reason I had such a hard time as a professional writer. I was pretty good at the writing part, the creative part, and I loved being edited, but interviews? Awful. Attention? Really awful. Reviews? Um, let's not even think about that. Marketing? Good God, please no. No, no, no, no, no. The award and all the, um, people staring and clapping and the plaque thing and stage lighting and...

OMG. NO! Get me the hell outta here. I wanna go HOME. NOW.

Home. With the door shut and the shades drawn and me curled up under blankets where it's safe and quiet and no one's looking at me or demanding things from me or - gasp - acting like I'm anything more than a quiet housewife from Iowa.

Anyway, as I struggle to get myself back into the 'published writer arena' - or at least sitting in my lonely car in the far reaches of its parking lot with my hands white-knuckle clamped to the steering wheel - I have to keep my introversion in mind. I have to. Because I remember what happened last time, and it wasn't super-cool-fun-times, at least not for me. I love talking with people about my work and what I do - and I really do enjoy what I do - I'd just rather do it on my terms, my way, with plenty of time and space and the ability to not keep shoving myself out there, kicking and screaming internally, as if I were a show pony strapped into a cage. Because being stared at while strapped in a cage isn't fun for anybody, especially the terrified show pony.

It is a worry. What if M sells? Or Spore? What then? Will I have to do interviews again? Will I have to go to conferences? How much will I have to get out and hustle for sales?

Hmm. I wonder if I could hire an extrovert to do all that stuff for me? ;) I can't pay much, but I'm really easy to work with.


Jean said...

You have a friend accept the award on your behalf. You do whatever you decide to do on your terms. And you just write and be the wife, mom, and grandma you are.

Erin M. Hartshorn said...

Hi. I think I'm close to the middle -- I can act like an extrovert when I absolutely have to, and sometimes I even enjoy being around new people, but given a choice, I'd rather just be at home.

And what Jean said. :)

SherryE said...

I tend to be an introvert, but I've learned to do public speaking and be fairly comfortable with it. It took lots of practice, though!

Aurora Celeste said...

I can never figure out if I'm an introvert or an extrovert. I need my time out with friends socializing . . . but I need my alone time too.

Aurora Celeste

Cathy said...

I used to be almost pathologically shy but my job as a children's librarian has required me for the past 11 years to operate outside my comfort zone. It really pushed the boundaries and so now I'm probably in the middle of the range. It's been good for me.