It's tough to be an introvert in an extrovert world, especially in an extrovert's profession, like teaching. Through this blog, I'd like to share my own and others' reflections on being an introvert in the classroom. This isn't a place for misanthropes or grumps, though; I hope to thoughtfully discuss the challenges that introverts face in schools and celebrate the gifts that introverted teachers and students bring to the educational environment. If you can relate, please join me!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

People en Español

I live in Southern California. My husband is a native Spanish-speaker. I could call up my in-laws and speak Spanish any time, but no: to practice my Spanish, I subscribed to People en Español.

Poor Ramon was actually offended when I announced my forthcoming subscription. But it's not a lack of faith in his ability to help me; it's my introversion.

Everything that most people hate about learning language in school--reading with a dictionary at the ready;  the absence of (and stress related to) real-life consequences--I love. I like to sit alone--with no one waiting for an answer or, worse, talking more to try and draw out what I'm trying to say--and be able to look something up if need be.

Some people say that they couldn't learn from a book, but if you dropped them in a foreign country left to their own devices, presto! In two weeks they'd be fluent.

To me, this sounds more like a nightmare. Give me my magazine. I'm super-excited when I can fully comprehend Cristina's advice column. And I'm learning all sorts of nifty cosmetic-related words from the ads. Did you know that mascara clumps are grumos? Muy bien, muy bien.

I have worried through whole sessions of yoga.

Another thing you're supposed to like if you're trying to pass yourself off as a reasonably contemplative person is yoga. I've done lots of yoga, and liked it too, mainly at the end of a long and tiring day when I need to relax. But I know some people who get up and do, like, two hours of yoga first thing in the morning. That would be disastrous for me. Even in mid-day, I cannot do yoga. Yoga will feel soothing if I'm already tired, but it will not relax me when I'm full of energy because my mind will just go and go and go the whole time.

I suppose the yoga craze could be explained by our fast-paced, extroverted society, for whom thinking quietly is a novelty worthy of paying monthly fees for after you purchase a colorful mat and those flattering black pants. But, as an introvert, I feel like I am always in my head, and sometimes, I've just got to get out. I'm reminded of the end-of-episode revelation Seinfeld had when Janeane Garofalo played the girlfriend who was just like him: "I can't date me; I hate myself!"

Those of us prone to self-examination are also often prone to self-criticism and worry. So, a quiet hour with no distractions is sometimes not a good thing. We mostly talk about distraction as a bad thing, but quite often I need to distract myself to prevent over-thinking things that need no further rumination. In the age of attention deficit disorder, some of us introverts have the opposite: it could perhaps be described as attention surplus disorder.

My cookie-cutter house

I love the suburbs. Yeah, I said it.

This is another thing I'm supposed to not like, as an academic, especially as an English professor. I'm supposed to say I want a charming old rambling farmhouse with character or some such crap.

But that only works if you have lots of spare cash for fixing things up, and, besides, I can't deny that I'm an engineer's daughter. When my dad looked down the street of a well planned subdivision and said in a pleased way, without any irony whatsoever, "You see, everything is so symmetrical," I totally knew what he meant.

I don't want an old house with character....because it's someone else's character. I like to think of my little detached condominium as my own beige and white blank slate. I decorate it how I want. I don't need to plan around, say, someone else's nineties-tastic green tile fireplace. Also, a hypersensitive person with OCD getting a new construction house is like a sticky toddler getting candy. I will go to town on that! It's so clean. I don't have to go around wondering, what exactly is that greasy stain on the wall? Why is there so much dirt crusted into the kitchen light switch plate? Did someone go play in the mud at night and then say, hey, I need to go grab my juicer? Exactly how much of the previous owner's dry toe skin has been shed into this carpet?

And when did cookie cutters get a pejorative connotation? Aren't they part of happy Christmas cookie-decorating memories? I'm missing the crafty gene, so there's no way I'm getting a Santa Clause face shape on my own. Besides, even if I get a bunch of identically shaped cookies, I can vary the icing and sprinkles and stuff.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Introvert moviegoer moment

Yesterday, I went to see the new Great Gatsby film with fellow introvert, Tom McCambridge. After the film, it was clear that I would not have to make the normally socially customary after-movie proposition that we get dinner or coffee and chat. As an introvert conditioned to live in an extrovert world, I almost asked out of habit, but then I realized, with relief, that I wouldn't have to, that Tom wanted to go home, too.

We walked to our cars, sharing a few observations but with the understanding that we'd process more before wanting to really discuss this movie. I've seen even my extroverted students have a bit of after-movie coma, and I think everyone takes awhile to shift back into the world of quick reaction after a period of intense focus.