Tag Archives: introvert

My Name is New Faculty & I’m an Introvert

introvert hangover | new faculty

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My birthday….I do love it so….really.

I made my own party this year. I had been celebrating my bad self for a while. I did spring and get a new car (thanks for the incentives toyota) and then planned a long weekend in FL to see some good friends from grad school. It’s been a great year of growth and overcoming personal challenges. I was ready for some eats and drinks!

It was also the first week of classes here at big box U so I really appreciated that everyone came out. I picked a nicer place due to the fact that I’m not interested in the $1 draft special on a night like my birthday and neither was my company (yet another difference when we leave grad school mentality, although $1 beer is a good thing at any income level). However, everything was very nice and delicious, and my giant bloody mary was divine.

So, the moral of the story is this: I did not think everyone would show. I invited 14 and 12 came. This is not a self deprecating post–in fact, quite the opposite. It’s not a “i can’t believe i have friends” thing, but I honestly thought that with the beginning of the turmoil semester, that more folks would bow out for 100 reasons. I sent a friendly email to invite folks w/ the details and even said, “I know you’re all busy and I understand” but thankfully, they did come!

The introvert in me pretty much panicked! I could not talk to everyone. I could not have a meaningful conversation. I felt like I was sitting in a fish bowl. I have great friends, they had no trouble talking to each other, but I struggled. As I observed myself, I realized a few things:

  • everyone was fine
  • so was i
  • it’s ok that i couldn’t talk to everyone, they were fine chatting w/ each other
  • 12 is too many for my personal taste, i’ll back it down to 6 next time, or maybe 4….

Last year, my former roommate and I stayed in on my birthday and we went out to a nice dinner later in the week as good friends. I will aim for something in between last night and last year.

Lesson learned. It’s the day after my birthday and I’m mentally pooped. I think I had some major overload yesterday from all of the socializing, the phone calls, and other forms of communication. I’m not ungrateful at ALL, but it was a good lesson for me that as an introvert, I need

  • smaller groups
  • more intimate settings
  • breaks between functions
  • and clearly….a day off after the fact.

As a new faculty and human being, it’s important for me to remind myself of what I need vs. what I want vs. what I think I should be doing. I did want to celebrate and boy, I sure did. While no one was totally drunk and falling down, it was a big day of socializing for me personally, which plain wore me out. This translates to all aspects of my life and as I finish this post, I’m locked in my office, door locked, lights low, pretending that no one is home.

My friend texted me this morning asking how my party was and told me that next year: VIP’s only!

She might be onto something.

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Introvert in an extrovert world

We are living in an extrovert world. (I can’t help but Madonna singing ‘material girl’).  It’s how we get attention.  We’ve taught our kids to speak up, not to be shy, and be bold.  Media tells us that the person willing to be the loudest will win the reality show, get the recording contract, get hits on YouTube, etc…In grad school, we were encouraged to find our voice, choose a research area, and set the framework for a lifetime (**gulp**) of work.

All through my high school years and early college days, I was an extrovert.  Meyers-Briggs confirmed it time and time again….But something happened.  I became an introvert.  I didn’t become one overnight.  I had always been shy as a child.  So shy, I wouldn’t even say hello to the bus driver who drove me to and from school for a decade.  Incidentally, he was also my neighbor, living up the road from me. Now, if you’re reading this and you’ve only known me during college (undergrad/grad school) you may be thinking “no way! she says whatever she wants.”  You’re right–because I’m comfortable with you.  If you judge me at this point, that’s officially your problem, not mine.  I do say what I think, I do have strong opinions, and I usually have no problem sharing them with folks.

Where did the introvert come back?  Awkward situations? No. New people? No. It came back everywhere.  Was it age?  Perhaps.  But after I realized that my introverted nature was returning, I visited the Meyers-Briggs again to confirm, my “E” had shifted to an “I” somewhere along the way.

Sure, everyone is a little awkward, and new people are always more conservative until they feel someone out for a good/bad vibe, but maybe it was grad school.  My job was to observe people for non-verbal behaviors.  It was NOT to speak to them, but merely observe them in their ‘natural habitat’ (picture an episode of Nature and the narrator saying, “when you look at the lion perched and looking for prey….”).

Forbes shared a piece on introverts that I really liked reading.  Maybe we have been ‘over media-ed’ to death and are used to seeing the bubbly, shining, outgoing people on the tv and the computer, giving no recognition to the folks that help get them there.  It might be time in our society and culture to start celebrating the quiet, the respectful, the character of introverts.  Society is doing something wrong, so is it that we’re forcing everyone to be an extrovert and seek all of the attention?

Academia can be the same way.  The squeaky wheel often gets the grease.  There is something to be said for academia and the introvert though.  The best ideas don’t come at work, they come at the gym, getting groceries, observing others interacting, or a host of other situations.  Academia, in some ways, was made for introverts.  We go home to our families, pets, and life each day and it gives us time to do something else.  We lock ourselves away to write, meet submission deadlines, and put ourselves up for judgment when we teach, face colleagues, or tenure.  Academia helps the introvert by letting us ‘go away’ and technology exasperates the issue because we don’t have to see people unless we need too.

Do we all have to put on our extrovert face from time-to-time?  Of course.  But, if you’re like me, you’re counting down the hours until you can go back to being an introvert again.  Some people have coined us as ‘loners’ or ‘stand off’ or ‘rude’ or ‘unfriendly’ but you know what–we like being quiet.  We like being alone.  We’re not going to chase you down for some admiration and attention.  We’re going to keep on going.

Perhaps that’s why we love the weekends so much, not just introverts, but everyone–we get to be ourselves.  There’s a country song that sings, “I don’t have to be me until Monday” and maybe that’s the secret.  From M-F, we have to be more extroverted, be more assertive, and pretty much everything else.  Job interviews are the ultimate in NOT channeling yourself (for another post), but on Saturday and Sunday (and part of Friday if you’re lucky), you get to be who you really are….that’s why “everybody’s workin’ for the weekend….” even the academics!

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