Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve posted something a little more personal and I so feel like I need to share my introvert struggles.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: as a kid, being an introvert in a world that praises extroverts set me up for a whole lot of mental stress. No one understood me and my need to get away from crowds and high stimulation (parties, busy malls, etc.). But for those of you who feel the same, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I have been where you are, trying to pretend that I’m extroverted while dying a little inside every time it doesn’t quite work. (My inner teacher/Care Bear is coming out.) I’m an INFJ, which basically means I’m introverted, caring, and super sensitive.
And yes, I realize I’m a walking contradiction. I’m an introvert who decided to become a teacher. I spend day in and day out surrounded my kids constantly demanding my attention and focus. I take home assignments all the time that give me little time to settle into my routines and read or watch a movie. And for the last two years, I’ve made it work.
This year, I decided to tackle something more. I’m an assistant for my school’s show choir. I’m in charge of the crew, which means I have about a dozen girls who set up backdrops, assist in costume changes, and generally just make sure that all of the visual effects work so the singers don’t have to stress. I grew up in show choir and I loved it. (Again, walking contradiction.) I wanted to give back to these kids and get to know them a little better than I do in the classroom.
And generally, I love it. I’ve only been active these past few weeks, since that’s really only when my crew has been there. But it is slowly starting to chip away at my introverted hermit shell, and the season hasn’t even started. (It goes solidly from late January to mid-March. Every. Weekend.)
I love when I can just be a quiet observer at practices. Our director is an extrovert with a capital E. He is loud, charismatic, and fun. So when he takes charge of the group, I have no problem handing control over to him. (It is his group, after all.) But I also really love watching the group and offering critiques on what I observe. (I don’t call anyone out, though, because that could possibly hurt someone’s feelings and that does not jive well with my personality.)
But when I have to pick up and be in charge? Oh boy. By the time I get home after those practices, I feel it. I’m drained, emotional, and tired. On the days where I’m more of an observer, I almost feel energized.
Another of my quirks is that I love my routines, and these practices are throwing me off big time. By the time I get home, I’m hungry, tired, my routine is completely ruined for the night, and I just want the maximum amount of alone time I can possible get away from anyone with a set of vocal cords.
I’ve currently been separated from people for an hour and it’s still not enough to unwind me. This is the problem with being an introvert: for every hour I spend with people, I need another hour alone just to feel like myself again. It’s usually impossible to get all that time back, and many people (mostly extroverts but sometimes introverts as well) just do not understand that level of aloneness I crave.
It’s interesting to note as well that the other assistant in my show choir is an extrovert as well–and nearly the complete opposite of me in personality. (This was our lunch conversation, of all things.) Whereas when I critique, I’m careful not to name anyone specific, she will stop the song and confront the person face to face in a verbal smack down that would haunt me for days if I were on the receiving end. I explained to her how that was not even an option for me because of how I couldn’t do that to hurt someone else’s feelings, she admitted that had never even occurred to her that it could hurt their feelings. From her perspective, if she was doing something wrong, she’d want to know about it immediately. And I get that…to a point. I’m a worrier and a bleeding heart, so I can’t stand even the idea that I’ve upset someone else. I have to make it better.
But through all of this, I’m still glad I stepped up and told the director that I would do it. Even though it’s not easy for me emotionally, it’s getting me outside of my comfort zone. I spent a lot of time in my hermit shell, reading books and pretending I live in another world. While there is nothing wrong with this, there were moments when I craved a little more. I missed the show choir world. I missed the competitions and the shows and the sparkles and dresses. It was something I’d been wanting to get involved in for a while and this year presented the perfect opportunity. Besides, the season is 3 months of the year. I can put up with 3 months when I get the other 9 months to crawl back into my shell.
Already, this is giving me new experiences and memories that I’m starting to treasure. I’m happy to be doing this. I just wish it was a little easier to balance this with my introversion.