This liquid diet has felt like the wilderness. Feeling deprived has actually forced me to deal with my emotions rather than mask the feelings with food. I’m a master food masker. (Say that 10 times fast.)
Introversion is a term I didn’t discover until college. Prior to those years, I always felt inferior. I’d berate myself, “Why do I have to be so sensitive & quiet? Why can’t I just let things go? Why do I obsess and replay situations or conversations that occurred? Why do I hate social encounters with people I don’t know? Why can’t I just be more like… <insert extroverted friend’s name here>).” I am an INFP and an on-the-fencer INFJ according the Myers Briggs Personality Scale. The I is for Introvert.
With a name like Joy, people expect you to be a joy…all the time. (It’s like having the name Angel or Heaven or Precious. What happens when you don’t live up to your name? I’ve seen some Angels that aren’t very angelic. Parents: don’t name your kids Angel, it’s just not nice.) I am my most joyful when I’m alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of you. I love my family and friends, but I will start to feel immense hatred and turn into a beast with steam coming out of my ears if I don’t have time to myself, to think, to process, to contemplate, to rehearse the days’ events. I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I actually go through almost everything that happened in the course of a day, before I go to sleep at night. It’s a way I process my world. It’s a blessing and a curse. Anything unresolved usually shows up in my dreams. (Why can’t I have Peter Pan flying dreams? I still would rather have adventure dreams rather than an obsessively-boring-processing-dream in which I try to process someone’s facial expressions during a strange social interaction. Yes, I’m a weirdo, but a lovely one.)
Bel Canto choir tour in 1993 was one of the moments in my history where I realized…I AM AN INTROVERT. Two weeks, on a bus with over 100 other 20-something women college students (screeching laughter and hilarious jovial fun-for some), traveling to states across the country (still on said bus), eating with these 100 women (still with said jovial women), performing nightly concerts with them (more noise in close proximity with said jovial women) and then, post-concert arrival at host family’s residence (more obligatory social contact as not to be rude to the hosts and interaction with a few of said *jovial women). Toward the end of the tour, I thought I might lose my mind. I needed quiet. I needed time to decompress. I felt terrible for feeling so moody. Now I realize that there was no time for me to be alone. This is what I craved to recharge.
*(If you are reading this and are one of the said jovial women that was on this tour, I still love you. But I love you more now that I’m not on a bus with you for two weeks.)
On Being an Introvert
― Susan Cain,
“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”
― Susan Cain,
“Unlike their Extraverted cousins though, INFPs will focus their attention on just a few people, a single worthy cause – spread too thinly, they’ll run out of energy, and even become dejected and overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that they can’t fix.” Source.
I have often felt totally overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that I can’t fix. I just have to turn off the news and limit input. It’s a way I can deal with what’s right in front of me rather than hearing about 100 million things I can’t control or fix.
“INFPs feel most comfortable among colleagues – they aren’t interested in controlling others, and have a similar distaste for being controlled. Among their colleagues, INFPs will feel freer to share their ideas, and while they may maintain some psychological distance, they will make every effort to be pleasant, friendly and supportive – so long as their coworkers reciprocate. INFPs don’t like conflict or picking sides, and will do everything they can to maintain harmony and cooperation.
Most of this comes down to good communication, which INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements. People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed.” Source.
“INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements.” Writing my thoughts is my lifeline (that’s why blogging has been so exciting for me). I abhor business-type phone calls where I don’t know the person on the other end. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. I can’t read facial expressions in a phone call.
Watch this if you are or know someone who is an introvert:
“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe”
― Susan Cain
This is why I have continued to job-share even though my kids are in school. I need time to stay home and think, without interruption. My mom used to always say, during my childhood, “I can’t hear myself think!” in exasperation. I know exactly what this means now. Exactly. She is clearly an introvert too. I’m a much better mother, spouse, colleague and friend, when I have time to enjoy solitude. Confession: So, if I decline your social invitation, I might say, “I have plans.” I won’t always tell you what those ‘plans’ are, but sometimes, it’s a plan to stay home and enjoy solitude. This is the air I breathe, and I believe it keeps my healthier and more sane. Everyone wants Sane Joy, trust me on this.
To paraphrase Susan Cain, without the experience in the wilderness, there would have been no revelation. I’ve grown to appreciate the wilderness episodes in my life. I am who I am because of my travels there.
In addition to the book, Quiet that was quoted extensively, these are two other books that are worthwhile reads for understanding yourself or the introverts in your life.
Until next Friday… Love you loves.