Friday, February 10

denial no more

“I restore myself when I'm alone.” Marilyn Monroe

...more like a surprising realization of a long-lived lifestyle rather than an actual event.
If you've asked me how Seattle's going in the past, oohhh…year, I probably responded with something a little more in-depth and psycho-introspective than what you were hoping for. A few months back I had lunch with my friend Ryan (who happens to be a Class V Extrovert), and I told him I was surprised that Seattle had turned me into an introvert.
His quick response: "Maddie. You've always been an introvert. Just embrace it. This is nothing new." 
I protested. But I love people and talking…and I like to think I’m not shy or awkward (usually)...
A few other notable conversations with good friends revealed that I was the only one surprised by the “Maddie = an introvert” equation. And there I had been feeling as if my increasingly hermit-like ways were something I needed to work on! —to fix! 

Seattle hadn’t changed me—rather it had given me the space and time to realize a vital part of my personality that had been with me all along.

Once I stopped being in denial of my very own personality, I was able to look back at my life and see all of the signs I had been ignoring:
Several good friends have always purposely placed me facing away from doors/windows at cafes and coffee shops because I get overly stimulated. 
Whether at a party, loud restaurant or some other crowded gathering, I truly use the restroom as a restroom. Not uncommon for me to lock myself in a stall, throw my back up against the wall, stare at the ceiling and just breathe.
While I know deep down that I’m not riddled with insecurity and anxiety, I hate going to parties without a wingman/woman because it’s such a relief to have just that one side person to focus on when needed.

Things that I love but need to really rally for:
  • multiple-day music festivals
  • my own birthday
  • weddings where I don't know anybody
  • weddings where I know everybody
  • holiday gatherings with extended family
  • makeshift high school reunions at bars
  • Fourth of July
  • New Year's Eve

Introverts are people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction. (j)
On his blog, author and musician Carl King picked apart Doctor Marti Olsen Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World). "If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place. According to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. (e)

“Shyness has nothing to do with being an introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting.” (d)
It’s a myth that introverts don’t like to go out in public. “Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for introverts.” (d)
And regarding friendships: “It is not easy for introverts to make new friends because getting to know someone takes so much energy. However, introverts don’t need a wide circle of friends.” (d)

And in case I started to lose you with all of that serious science mumbo-jumbo…

I've always felt a fierce loyalty toward Ariel. We're kindred spirits in a way. She's a classic introvert with extroverted desires. Hanging out in her secret underwater grotto all the time, daydreaming and singing to herself, curious about the people who are "...strollin' along down the—what's that word again?—street!"
(If you want your day to instantly improve, watch Ariel sing her angst-y, teenage introverted heart out here.)
And for those of you who'd like to dive into the Disney Kingdom a bit more, there's also a lively online forum already heading up the discussion on the overwhelming extroversion of Disney princesses.

I think an obvious (while loose) Biblical comparison here would be Luke 2:19:
 "But Mary [read: Ariel] treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."

Which makes a clumsy yet somehow perfect segue into our next segment...

Pastor and author Adam McHugh wrote a book called Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture. In it he says, "On a broader scale, I find the fact that God uses people of all different sorts of gifts, abilities, and temperaments, incredibly comforting. Introversion is not a category in the Bible, but the patriarch Jacob was called "a quiet man"...and Jesus' mother Mary was deeply introspective and reflective." (i)

Indeed, even Moses is described as a very meek and shy Biblical character, and is well-known for trying to use it as an excuse to not go where God was sending. But God knows us better than we know ourselves, so He equipped Moses with the tools he would need for success.

McHugh continues with more insight that I absolutely love: 
"More specifically, there is a text in the Old Testament prophet Isaiah that says, "In quietness and in trust shall be your strength." I love the idea that life and the world is bigger than I am, and I don't need to expend all kinds of energy obsessively trying to make everything happen in my life by my own efforts. But I can find strength by quietly trusting in One who is more powerful than I am, and who is even at work when we are silent and at rest." (i)

"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
      you formed me in my mother's womb.
   I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
      Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
      I worship in adoration—what a creation!
   You know me inside and out,
      you know every bone in my body;
   You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
      how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
      all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
   The days of my life all prepared
      before I'd even lived one day."
Psalm 139:13-16

In the science journalist Winifred Gallagher’s words: “The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Neither E=mc2 nor ‘Paradise Lost’ was dashed off by a party animal.” (a)
Famous Introverts a.k.a. my kindred spirits:
C.S. Lewis Michelle ObamaGlenn Close
Mr. Darcy (yes, the Pride & Prejudice one)  Marcel Proust 
• Albert Einstein • Google's Larry Page • J. K. Rowling
Audrey Hepburn Helen Hunt Diane KeatonGrace Kelly  
Julia Roberts  Meg Ryan Meryl Streep Clint Eastwood
Harrison Ford Tom HanksAlfred Hitchcock Steve Martin
 David LettermanDiane SawyerBarbara Walters

I'm in good company.



ika said...

1. McHugh has some good things to say. 2. I love the sweater 3. Quote for you:

“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don't want to make eye contact while doing it.”
― John Green

michelleaneous said...

Ugh, yes. This is SO TRUE! Thank you for putting it all into words (and perfect pictures)! :) It's hard explaining to people that I can't hang out sometimes because, no I don't have other plans, but I need to not have any plans so I can sit and think/read/write or whatever (

laurenjeanallece said...

Hahahah, oh my, I love (and so entirely relate to!) this entire post... But i must say the highlight of all the highlights (and there were many - did I mention I love this post?) was the full-body turtleneck at the end.

Pfft, take that Snuggie.

Also makes me think of this:

Have a happy weekend Maddie!

Adam K said...

What a post! It's one of those rarities that just keeps going, yet gets more interesting and satisfying as it goes. In some way, I'm sure everyone can relate to you. That "Party!" cartoon sums me up. I love my friends and I love interacting with people (when I'm feeling social), but there's just something about the peace and comfort of home. It's funny that you see yourself as an introvert, because you seem very at ease around people. However, I must admit that I would probably have pegged you as more introverted than extroverted, had I been asked before reading this post.

Caroline said...

I love how much you've looked into this. I've known I'm an introvert for awhile, but being a science geek, I love the information you found from that perspective. I've never bothered looking into it before, but I found that really cool! Thanks for sharing!

Jessica Roy said...

I love this! Over the past few years I, too, have realized that I need to majorly prepare for a full day with people - all that laughing, smiling, talking, responding, asking questions - it's a Liz Lemon situation. :) Love the post Maddie, well done!

the sweet spot said...

i take my very social life in small doses--try to avoid sitting facing the window, have gotten very comfortable saying i'm ready to go home, and then just go, and am pretty comfortable sitting in the corner chair watching the action, all alone with a plate of food. i just read something on introverts vs extroverts from my supervisor, and came to this same profound realization!

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