Monday, November 19, 2012

NaNoWriMo, Day 19

Word Count: 31,934
18,066 words to go
1680 words per day, average


I always used to assume that I'm an introvert. I have even blogged about it! I get tired easily, especially around people; classic flag of an introvert. On top of that, in new situations, among new people, I can be a little shy until the moment I feel like I have found my footing and understand my place in a new group. I'm not always quick on my feet either; I like to listen, but until I'm comfortable in a situation, I don't pipe up myself. This is something that only developed in my adult years, probably a self-defense mechanism from years as a bit of a precocious child who felt a little - hmm - out of place among her peers.

So, the past few days, I've been confused by myself. The past few months, really. Maybe even since last winter, when I attended the Canadian Design Bloggers Meetup, my first meet-strangers-from-the-Internet experience. Each event I attend*, each time I meet new people, each time I put myself out there among strangers with whom I may or may not click, I leave on an adrenaline high, already checking my calendar for the next time I get to do it all over again.

But wait. An introvert is supposed to be left exhausted by interaction, particularly large groups. And I have experienced that exhaustion. In fact, I regularly experience that exhaustion. But, here's the thing: over the last few years, most of my social interaction has been with very close friends and with our church community. I love spending time with our friends - there's no expectation, no assumption of behaviour and knowledge. On the other hand, I am the youth leader for our church. Weekly, I hang out with the high school age kids, talking about world issues and faith and the church. Of course that's exhausting: preparing, leading discussions, teaching, encouraging thought. Is it possible that the task overshadows my interactions with other groups and people within the community? Is it possible that, within that context, I can't turn it off, can't sit back and enjoy the company of others without placing certain expectations on myself? And, therefore, without coming away from it exhausted?

 After the NaNoWriMo halfway party, followed by a write-in at the Random House offices, I think I'm finally ready to set aside the cloak of introversion. In a way, I think that is how a lot of people use the personality classifications, certainly how I used it, anyway, as a way to explain away behaviour and personality ticks. But can we actually be explained so easily? Are we not more complicated than a stereotype?

I thought a first that I would, instead, embrace being an ambivert - one who lands firmly in the middle of the spectrum, one who enjoys both time alone and time in groups. While I think it would likely be correct, I realize it's not the point. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what we are - extrovert, introvert, ambivert. One way or another, we don't need to let these words define us. We don't need to stay in need little lines, in neat little boxes. So, I guess I'm an introvert who sometimes looks and feels like an extrovert, but some weeks will decide to remain perfectly balanced as an ambivert.

* Since I began this blog, I have been to three blogging events, one photography photo walk, and, as of this past weekend, three NaNoWriMo events.

7 comments:

  1. Very indepth! I used to be quite introverted and I had a hard time making friends. My current friends couldnt understand this because I was so outgoing with them! Eventually though I seem to have broken out a bit. Im certainly not the type of person to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but I am more comfortable sliding into a conversation already started. Baby steps!

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  2. Thanks Casey! I think about this stuff a lot. I find it unendingly interesting, the differences between people that make this world so complex.

    Keep in mind that shyness doesn't automatically equal introversion! Often, introverted people are very reserved and quiet, but not always. It depends on where you get your energy from - being with people, or being by yourself. I am always nervous about stepping into a room full of people I don't know, but it seems, after this weekend, anyway, I get a lot of energy from being around like-minded people.

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  3. And, to add: YAY for breaking out a bit if it's what you want! I don't think introverted people should be told they should just stop being introverted - that's not going to happen! I just think we should stop putting everyone in little boxes. I like little boxes, but only if they're holding things that aren't people.

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  4. I dont know if it is introvertedness either. I am probably more like you, craving some alone time and craving some fun with people time! I am a nut around my regular friends so I think it is more I am nervous to overstep social boundaries with new people. But once the person and I get an understanding of eachother's likes and dislikes, I can really have fun :P

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  5. My guess is that you've found a challenging project in your writing, but aren't as challenged by the church group. That's not to say it's easy, but there's a difference between difficult-to-do (and that doesn't necessarily imply that you don't like it!) and challenging.

    When sufficiently challenged, making progress or learning more about the topic gives you that adrenaline high. Then you keep doing more and more to reach that high again.

    And of course, there are certain people whose company is never a chore. At worst, they'll be energy neutral, but being around will usually help to charge your batteries.

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  6. Perhaps. Except that it's not the writing itself that brings the adrenaline high. Writing tends to be a very solitary activity, and I would agree that I find it a challenge, but the type of challenge that I have a natural affinity for. I suppose these feelings could be transfered to the activities that go with it? The write-ins, socials, etc connected with NaNoWriMo. We do, after all, talk a lot about writing and our novels when the big group of people is together.

    Yes! The people whose company is never a chore are my favourite. :)

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  7. I know what you mean - I left BlogPodium so excited and happy and surprised at how much I enjoyed it! But I am definitely an introvert - if BlogPodium had been an entire weekend, I don't think I could have done it haha I need time away from people to recharge. But for short bursts or days or even weeks when I know I'll be with people constantly (like at camp), I sort of mentally prep myself for it so it's not as exhausting. It probably depends too on the amount of brainpower required at different events. Youth groups and intense discussions are probably more tiring because they require deep thinking, whereas (and not to trivialize them) meetups have more of a 'surface' discussion. Does that make any sense?

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