For months/years, I have threatened/promised to write about how I got to be who I am today and what shaped me along the way. This sporadic series will try to unpack my personal history and influences and, I hope, set people to thinking about their own.
When I posted the first installment of this series and used the word sporadic in the intro, I didn’t think it would be almost a year before I posted the second installment, but here we are. Of course, I didn’t know last February that 2021 was destined to see my father’s final decline and death, which, along with the necessary estate work, occupied so much of my time and mind last year.
What I’ve decided to write about today is how my natural introversion impacts how my mind works.
Any personality assessment I have ever done shows the largest deviation from the centerpoint on the scale toward introversion versus extraversion. I’m not just a little bit introverted. I’m very introverted.
I find crowds overwhelming. When being in groups, the smaller the better. I much prefer an in-depth conversation with one person to small talk with ten. I am also content to be by myself for long stretches. I can function in larger groups when I have to, but it is very tiring and I’m not able to participate in discussion very well.
This is partially a function of not being very good at inserting myself into ongoing discussion and partially another introvert trait, which is that I need time to think through issues before I can formulate opinions and put them into words. If there is a discussion on a topic that I know well, I can participate almost as well as the extraverts in the group, but, if the topic is new, I usually can’t make my brain work fast enough to participate before the discussion has moved on to something else. This is especially difficult for me when workshopping poems that I haven’t studied in advance. I always feel that I am not as helpful as I might be to the other poets in the group.
Introverts often have a preference for writing over speaking. I’ve always loved to write. I find it helpful in clarifying my thoughts. I think part of the reason I’ve been able to sustain this blog is that writing posts organizes my thoughts in a calming way after I have been mulling something. That I can then share those thoughts with others is not as much the primary goal as a bonus.
And introverts are definitely “mulling” types. Decision-making is very deliberative and often involves research, time, and depth of thought. I am not a snap-judgement type and like to take time in forming opinions and action plans. I know this is frustrating for others who are quicker to come to positions and decisions. I can seldom see things in a this-or-that way; everything is a spectrum for me and it takes time to think through where on the spectrum I will land – and more time to adequately explain it to someone else.
One of the things I have learned recently is that introverts’ brains work differently than extraverts. I find this knowledge comforting. There has been pressure on introverts to become extraverts, as though introversion was a choice rather than an inherent part of one’s personality. Knowing that my brain works in the distinctive pattern of introverts strengthens my acceptance of myself as I am.
I am also part of a particular subset of introvert. In Myers-Briggs-speak, I’m an INFJ, which is considered the rarest personality type, so my brain has a few extra quirks going on, but that is a post for another day.
With luck, it won’t take me a year to get to it.
Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/18/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-18th-2022/