Sunday, April 3, 2011

The art of navel gazing.

I'm a pusher.

Am I an introvert? I've always said yes, and in a way I believe that I am--but I tend to fall so squarely on the line that I can't really be completely sure. Somehow that's an odd feeling.

I'm about 98% positive that a dating website is not the thing for me. So why am I still there? Maybe it's a way to kill time. You know, because I need more help killing time in the middle of the night. Clearly screwing around online is a better idea than sleeping at 3 am.

Ok so I'm reading this article from Psychology Today on introversion (almost an obsession lately--I know, weird), and OMG look at this:

"In a series of studies in which subjects were presented with an effortful task such as taking a test, thinking rationally, or giving a speech, introverts did not choose to invoke happy feelings, reports Boston College psychologist Maya Tamir. They preferred to maintain a neutral emotional state. Happiness, an arousing emotion, may be distracting for introverts during tasks. By contrast, extraverts reported a preference to feel "happy," "up," or "enthusiastic" and to recall happy memories while approaching or completing the tasks."

It's me. It's me. I hate emotion when I'm trying to think. Or focus. Or relax. I pretty much just hate emotion. Imean, it has its place. I know it does. But that's a thing I need to keep telling myself, or I'll forget. 

(Don't know what's up with the font sizes. Sorry about that.)

"Even a simple opener of "Hello, how are you? Hey, I've been meaning to talk to you about X," from anyone can challenge an introvert. Rather than bypassing the first question or interrupting the flow to answer it, the introvert holds onto the question: Hmm, how am I? (An internal dialogue begins, in which the introvert "hears" herself talking internally as the other person speaks.)
Even if the introvert responds, "I'm good," she's probably still reflecting on how she is: Good? That's not quite right. I really have had a pretty crummy day, but there isn't a quick way to explain that. She wants to first work out privately her thoughts and judgment about the day. She also may evaluate the question itself: I hate that we so often just say 'good' because that's the convention. The other person doesn't really want to know. She may even activate memories of how the question has struck her in the past.
While the introvert is evaluating the question on at least two levels (how she is feeling and what she thinks about the question, perhaps also what this says about our society), the speaker is already moving on to sharing something about his day. The introvert must take the incoming message from the speaker and tuck it into working memory until she can get to it, while more information keeps flowing in that demands tracking, sorting, searching, and critical analysis."

For me at least, I'd say that calling "hey, how are you, I've been meaning to tell you [x]" a "challenge" is a little strong, but it can be an irritation. My brain really will run straight off track just like that. Actually, the thing about "good" just being the convention might as well be a direct quote. Original, right? I know. The best part of all this is that I'm not naturally an auditory learner, so that "tuck it away for later" thing doesn't work well for me. I try automatically, but it doesn't so much work out. I've been working on the auditory processing thing, and it's improving, but it takes a lot of focus.
Anyway though, here's the article: "Revenge of the Introvert." It's a little long, but pretty good and very informative. I especially like the "things never to say to an introvert" section at the very end.


  1. I wasn't going to read the article until your teaser about things never to say about an introvert.

  2. Okay I just read them and now I don't think I am one. I mean, I know in a lot of ways I most definitely am, but those things never to say are kind of annoying and don't hit quite on the things *I'm* uncomfortable about. /sigh


  3. Haha sorry about the teaser. And I know what you mean! I feel like I don't really quite fit into either category, and it's frustrating. Why'd we have to co-evolve so weirdly?

  4. I don't know! I feel like the problem with the description (for me) is it's too detailed. I mean, no one person could actually fit that description - or rather, only ONE PERSON could. There are so many variants there's no way that covers everyone. By being so specific it excludes droves of folks. For me...

    Introvert = recharges alone. (or with select individuals, being quite, alone, self involved)

    Extrovert = recharges with people doing things.