Fifty bucks says the person flopped over at the desk in the middle is an introvert.
Okay, well there are other possibilities too, but given a typical work week day, I'd hedge my bets on that.
A while back I started a series on introversion. My compulsion to write on introversion stemmed, in large part, from reading Susan Cain's wildly popular book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking."
Some of my best blog and Facebook conversions in the past year have surrounded my ruminations on the topic based on Cain's findings, and gratefully, I just received a fresh infusion of introversion, thanks to my mother. Mom knows about the introversion stuff and, loving me as she does, she sent me an article she ripped out of her Reader's Digest titled, "The Patron Saint of Introverts." (Dec. 14/Jan. 15 issue)
Funny, based on the title alone I thought it was going to be a Catholic piece, but it wasn't at all. Rather, the article was based on an interview with Cain on her Quiet Revolution, a business she co-founded following the success of her book.
Cain and I are the same age, 46, so it makes even more sense to me why her work has resonated so "loudly" (in a quiet sort of way) with me. We came into the world at the same time, so we've been living this introversion stuff for exactly the same duration. In that way, we are very much in sync.
With the holiday season upon us, we introverts face a few more challenges than usual, so I think the timing is perfect to break apart this little interview piece by piece. I hope it will bring some sense of solace to all my introverted friends out there. And to the extroverts, as before, I hope it will bring helpful insight. After all, even though we introverts are in the minority, there are enough of us out there bumping elbows with extroverts that it makes sense for us to understand one another.
Since I'm not an extrovert, I can't write about the extroversion experience, only the introversion, so let's begin with the first bit (with future Q/As to come in subsequent posts):
Q (Reader's Digest): How do you describe an introvert?
A (Susan Cain): An introvert feels drained after a party; an extrovert feels invigorated. In other words, an introvert recharges by being on his or her own, and an extrovert is energized by being around others.
But we already knew that, right? Wait now, let's listen to the rest of Cain's answer. This intrigued me.
It's a metaphor for what's happening biologically - an introvert's nervous system is more sensitive to stimulation.
You want to make another bet? I'll bet there are a lot of introverts who were colicky babies. I was among them. But it makes sense, doesn't it? If introverts are sensitive to stimulation, they likely had this "condition" since the beginning.
Case in point. Our oldest son is the most staunchly introverted of our kids, and he was colicky too as an infant. It's jiving so far.
If you didn't see the connection between the introvert and the upcoming holidays before, hopefully by now you're all caught up:
Holidays + introverts = potential disaster.
If you're an introvert, you're going to have to pace yourself. And it's okay. You're likely to be drained by all the gatherings upcoming. That means in order to find your balance, you're going to have to make the time to go off by yourself somewhere.
That can be a tall order, especially if you have young children or other confines that make getting away difficult. But do what you can, even if it just means shutting down earlier, or taking some nice, cozy naps.
If you do that, you have to promise me that those little spans away from the commotion will be guilt free, okay? You are who you are. You don't need to apologize to anyone for that.
Discovering my introversion has empowered me to politely arrange my life during such times in a way that I can make the best use of my energy, enjoy the people around me, and have something left for later. Yes, there might be a bit of having to plan ahead to make it work, or adjustments to make along the way, but if you respect and honor your introverted nature, life is going to be a lot more manageable -- for you and all the wonderful people in your life.
Just remember, if you feel inclined to get down on yourself about all this, it's a biological thing. The same reason you are drained at gatherings is the same thing that makes you such a creative, dynamic individual when your "battery pack" is charged up once again.
Go easy on yourself. Enjoy the gatherings while you can. And when it gets too much, go find a quiet corner, shut down, and let yourself recharge.
Q4U: When did you first realize you're an introvert (if you are one)? If you're an extrovert, how has understanding the introverts that surround you helped your life go more smoothly?