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!

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Ay, chingao, I hate summer." The seasons and the highly sensitive.

Yesterday, basking in my lounge chair in the yard in the deliciousness of a Southern CA day that was 80 degrees in February, I exclaimed to my husband, "It's like summer!" and the above title of this posting was his reply. Well, I figured, when you are a quirky person, you marry a quirky person, and sometimes they say things that nobody else says. I mean, who hates summer?

But then I began to think back to when I had unmedicated anxiety and OCD. At that time, I preferred cloudy days because I found them calming. The sun was just too much. Too bright, too in-my-face. And of course, many a bibliophile loves a rainy day by the fire to curl up with hot cocoa. So, instead of assuming I had seasonal affective disorder in reverse, I figured people who like cloudy, drizzly cold aren't that weird after all.

I even wonder if Europeans developed a written culture earlier than some warmer, nicer places that stuck with an oral culture because there's something conducive about cold, wet weather that helps with the kind of focused work introverts and reading/writing-centric cultures privilege, while maybe nice warm weather that gets people outside and around one another fosters interaction and extroversion, which would require more of an oral culture.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

An Introvert Illness? "Don't make a scene."

Another thing that has taken my attention away from my beloved blog is my sabbatical project. I thought reading and writing from home, in true introvert mode, would have me writing blog posts much more often, even though the topic of my research is not introversion.

My project is on fiction (for young adults) and narrative nonfiction (memoirs and such) of mental illness. (If you're interested, my proposal is available here, via my district's website.) Overwhelmed by reading and thinking about that reading, I haven't had as many writing or blogging urges. I guess you could say my brain has been in input mode rather than output mode. Perhaps this in itself is introverted; I can think about ideas easily and with endless revision and no need to check and re-check for type-o's, etc.

But, anyway, as with most of my scholarly interests, there is some crossover. As part of my research, I've been learning about mental illnesses such as borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder, in which people are given to acting out boldly, and I began to wonder: is it possible that there are introvert mental illnesses and extrovert mental illnesses?

Let me back up. Growing up in our family, a family of introverts and Italian Catholics very much interested in upholding honor and avoiding shame, one of the adults' favorite admonishments to a misbehaving kid was, "Don't make a scene." One of the only saving graces of my OCD is that most of it consisted of the "O" part and could be hidden. My discomfort and shame, distressing as it was, could at least be private most of the time. Of course, this prevented my diagnosis and prolonged my suffering for years, but that's another matter.

I've recently begun to wonder how I would've felt if I had something like bipolar or borderline and could not hide my illness. Of course, everyone, regardless of temperament, feels shame after the excesses of, say, a manic episode, but would my shame have been greater as an introvert, as someone who grew up trying to "not make a scene"? Then, I wondered, would it be possible for me or my biological relatives to get such an illness? Or do some of the same chemicals that make me an introvert predispose me to an internally tormenting, invisible psychological problem like the obsessions in OCD?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Pregnant Introvert

So, a few things have happened that have interfered with me posting to this blog as much as I would have liked to, one of which is that I am now about halfway through my first pregnancy.

Sometimes I forget I'm pregnant. It takes a second to realize that the "How are you feeling?" is different from the everyday "How are you?" I'm not used to people being so solicitous, as I give off that solitary vibe and am not used to being the center of attention. And people will notice me even more as the bump gets bigger. Luckily, no one but close friends and family have actually reached out and patted the belly yet. ;)

I'm noticing some of the same things that happened when I was planning my wedding. Now that I'm pregnant, women who I normally have little in common with feel more comfortable chatting with me. In my twenties, most women my age were driven to distraction by the care of small children while I was driven to distraction by studying and teaching. We were often too tired to really have anything to say to each other. But, in a world where everyone does their own thing and there are few rules and conventions anymore, it was a pleasant surprise, when I began planning my wedding, at age 31, that women of all ages were suddenly taking an interest in my china pattern. And as non-traditional as my life was (I lived alone and worked), compared to those of lots of women I knew, I wanted a super-traditional wedding. The idealist literary dreamer who figured for most of her life that she'd never get the opportunity to have a wedding was going to have the fairy-tale princess experience or be damned! In the process of orchestrating said experience, I found that the older ladies in the family who could never relate to the strange bookish creature before seemed genuinely interested in this facet of my personality. The same seems true with pregnancy. While I often crave alone-time, I don't like to be lonely, and it's nice to have people show interest.

While I've mostly been too nauseous to feel like a princess while pregnant, now that I'm halfway through and my life seems to be returning to a semblance of normalcy (I'm even getting my appetite back), I am going to try to make the most of all the cliches that as an academic I'm supposed to eschew. For example, in about a week, I am going to have the cutest gender-reveal cupcakes ever.