Now I continue:
Well, reading Cain allowed me not just to put my finger clearly on my own Introverted self, but to help define her so that I can convince my family she exists. My family, many friends, my students certainly, so often see me in what appears to be an Extroverted mode that they have found it difficult to believe any part of me is an Introvert. But my husband saw the reality -- surprisingly, for the first time in our 40 years together -- this last trip to France when we spent about ten days of our six weeks away living in two different fairly communal circumstances. He did fine; in fact, although our kids think of him as more introverted than I am, he actually thrived in the social settings, whereas I wanted to crawl under my bed by noon most days . . . You wouldn't know this by looking at me in those settings, though. I joined in the conversations, laughed at those jokes I could translate quickly enough, chatted as best I could in my evolving French. At the breakfast table with our hosts and a revolving set of guests, on a long hike with our host and her cousin, talking through dinner with our housemates after a long day of painting classes -- in each setting, I probably seemed fairly comfortable, relaxed even. Sometimes I might be more reserved, and could pass that off as fatigue at the language barrier; other times, I must have seemed quite outgoing, verging occasionally on life-of-the-party. But regularly, I would make excuses to scoot back to our room to hunker down with a book, obliterated by the constant effort of being sociable.
Paul, on the other hand, was pleased to take advantage of a laid-on French conversation class, and we were both a bit surprised that he would wander over to the communal spots and voluntarily start up a conversation on French politics with a slightly grizzled soixante-huitard or offer to help our host peel potatoes or move tables. What we were able to figure out and articulate for each other was that the interactions cost him very little in terms of social or emotional or psychological energy. My sense of obligation, on the other hand, coupled with some very basic settings in my Personal Operating System, means that social engagement drains the batteries. Quickly.
Shortly after we arrived home, this brilliant graphic by artist Schroeder Jones began circulating through the social media in my corner. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest all featured Jones' instructive cartoon on "How to Live with Introverts." Most useful for me, in this very helpful message, is the clarity of recognizing that both Introverts and Extroverts enjoy social situations; they just cost the Introvert more.
Again, though, I'm running the word count up to high, so I'll leave you to think about your picture of an Introvert. Have you seen Jones' cartoon before? Have you tended to link shyness with Introversion? Do you sense that you're an Introvert but experience aspects of personality that seem to make that impossible?
And yes, I am going to circle back to hair, to my curls -- whether you'll find the connection convincing in the end, we'll still have to see. Meanwhile, a photo, at least, to show you I'm still thinking of the curls, even as I try to articulate something about myself as Introvert. To be continued . . .