Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not Alone

According to the Meyers Briggs type indicator, an “extrovert” and an “introvert” are defined based on where they get their energy. An extrovert is “energized by the outer world of people and things” and an introvert is “energized by the inner world of thoughts and ideas”.
When I first heard about this, I considered it a revelation. It took me the better part of ten years to come to the realization that I really did not enjoy parties or social gatherings larger than, say, four people (It turns out that making the distinction between “I like” and “I don’t like” is not as easy as it would appear. Another revelation.)
After a long day of work, an extrovert wants to go have dinner. I want to crawl into bed with a book. I don’t want to talk. I want to write. I don’t want to play a team sport. I want to swim. When faced with a dilemma at work, I don’t want to brainstorm. I want to sit behind my computer and close the door. This is, in fact, what I want to do even when not faced with a dilemma at work.
My job (which I love) is intensely social. I meet with people and talk on the phone and present a point of view and give presentations (often breathing through stage fright). When a co-worker comes into my office, my brain is happy to see her but my body spasms (it takes a second for my mouth to follow my brain and smile because its first reaction is to contract.)
What I find interesting is that I’m not alone (despite being attracted to that concept.)
I’ve recently concluded (through empirical observation) that more than half of the people who work in PR are closet introverts (don’t worry. I won’t call you out by name until you’re ready.)
I guess this shouldn’t come as such a surprise. The profession demands that you interact with a certain level of social dexterity, but it requires, at least in equal measure, that you write and think and research. We’re right where we should be.
Besides, everyone should have a job that takes them places they wouldn’t go on their own, that pushes the limits of what they think they can do, and that (as a bonus) saves them from their worst tendencies (I’d be a hermit.)
So if you’re a fellow introvert in a job that demands that you operate outside your comfort zone, I salute you.


Sheri said...

It's always a relief to hear I'm not the only introvert in an extrovert's profession! I used to see that as a failure or shortcoming, but I realize I'm still damned good at my job and I'm still a pleasant, congenial person, even if I don't have an outgoing personality. I came across your blog because not one but two bloggers (that I know of) referred to this post. I love your blog and plan to be a regular reader. So pleased to have "met" you!

Dushka said...

Sheri, welcome to my blog! Thank you so much for your comments. I am looking forward to your visits.

Camelia said...

Dushka, thanks for a candid confession. I'm also in PR and it's a relief to learn that I'm not the only introvert. I often feel like I don't display enough "team spirit" even though I love-love my co-workers and my job, but am emotionally drained at 7:00 PM and would rather go home and cuddle with my books than have drinks or go to baseball games. The cognitive dissonance really throws me off sometimes. Hats off to you for your coming out of the introvert's closet! Maybe we should start a club and have group therapy sessions... :-)