Sunday, March 24, 2013


"A man has as many social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares. He generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups."  --William James

If you knew me only in a professional context, you would have a difficult time believing I am an introvert; I put on a fun show, and in the moment?  It's me.  Unfortunately for my temperament, the work I care most deeply about, and the work I continue to do is so unflaggingly social in nature, that if I'm not carefully attuned to seeking out "restorative niches," I will flatline, and it's not pretty.  Anyone who has seen me after a five or seven day work trip when I've had to be "on" for 10+ hours a day with people has seen this state.

I'm in a new situation now that requires not only extensive travel and working with large groups of people (which I love) but also an intense office environment and endless slew of interactions when I return...and I live in the most population dense place I've ever lived...So I've been looking for a little more guidance. I'm in a place of working through what will allow for balance in these spaces.  I just finished Susan Cain's Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.   I cried through multiple chapters simply from the resonance of the ideas and case studies, not to mention the highlight of so many things I wish I'd tended to throughout my life (instead of beating myself up over); However, I was able to name so many things that I had previously just been confused by.   I have been clear for some time that I am introverted and become fully exhausted (not exhilarated) by too much social stimuli, but I'm also so drawn to deep connection to others that it has been difficult to reconcile these two ideas in my mind-- Turns out they're not mutually exclusive.  I have just had times in my life when I worked around these energy demands more effectively.

Cain identifies our ability to seem effervescent in large groups of people, to appear gregarious and extroverted in different settings as "effective self-monitoring."  And I am very glad to have developed the skills I have in this world, because I truly love what I do.  What I am working on developing skill in is taking the time I need for restoration, and figuring out what boundaries I need to draw around the energy output.  We all are to a certain extent, right?

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