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Posts Tagged ‘introvert’

  1. Hope for Introverts Who Feel Like Party Poopers

    December 16, 2016 by Diane

    Holiday gatherings can be overwhelming for introverts. This post, from May 2015, offers five tips to help you survive.

    People in a concert

    A friend invited me to attend a three-day camping/music festival in the mountains, an hour drive from where I live. For an introvert, three days amongst hordes of people and loud music is nerve-wracking.

    “Sounds fun!” I said, and then immediately began fretting.

    Will there be port-a-potties? I hate port-a-potties. What will I do with my stuff: my lawn chair, backpack, snacks, meals, bottled water, book, writing tablet, sleeping bag, and whatever comfort crap I lug with me? And then there’s the hour drive up winding mountain roads. Driving is not my forte. And chitchat–I loathe chitchat! I never know what to say.

    But I told myself: it will be good for you to get out from behind the keyboard and mingle. So I bought a ticket.

    Except I nixed the camping part.

    And the three days.

    I committed to one day. For a few hours.

    Do you see how my introverted brain narrowed my experience so quickly? And still I worried! I worked myself into a nervous wreck. A weekend of fun turned into something that required me to gird my loins well in advance.

    Why?

    Because of the thoughts I was entertaining. These thoughts were unwelcome guests. But they crowded the space in my mind.

    I tried smiling. It temporarily lulled my body into thinking that all was safe. I tried meditating, focusing on my “third eye,” directing my gaze upwards. It eased my racing heart, somewhat. I tried engaging in soothing self-talk. The only difference between today and any other day is the knowledge that I’m going to a music festival, and the dysfunctional thinking that I’ve attached to that future experience. But in spite of all the self-talk and relaxation techniques I still felt like damaged goods, unable to look forward to an event that most people would find enjoyable.

    What’s the matter with me!? I agonized.

    In desperation, I turned to the book The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. The author, Marti Olsen Laney, devotes a whole chapter to attending parties and other such events. What I read gave me new insight into myself, and changed my outlook. By Saturday morning, I was eager to hit the road.

    What were Laney’s tips?

    First: you are not damaged goods. You’re an introvert, and crowds will suck the energy from you. Extroverts thrive on gatherings and other people; it’s how they recharge. Introverts recharge by going within. So it’s natural to feel anxious before attending a big event.

    Here are five tips to make the experience less overwhelming:

    1. Relax the day beforehand to conserve your energy.

    I spent the afternoon in the park reading, and after a leisurely dinner, I watched a DVD before going to bed.

    2. When you arrive at the event, acclimate yourself gradually.

    Stand on the fringes and take it all in. Allow other people to approach you. When you’re feeling comfortable, proceed into the belly of the crowd.

    When I arrived, I greeted my friend, located the restrooms (yay, no port-a-potties!) and slowly made my way to the main stage. I set up my lawn chair in the back of the crowd next to three people who were also sitting in lawn chairs, reading books. My kind of people.

    3. Take breaks as needed.

    Go to the restroom to escape, or step outside and take in some air.

    I wandered off by myself to take in the breathtaking view of the redwoods and the fog drifting in from the coast, and then found a small jazz trio jamming in the mess hall.

    4. Set a time limit for how long you’ll stay.

    I decided to give myself until 6:00, so I wouldn’t have to drive down the mountain in the dark. I ended up staying until 7:00, because I was having such a great time.

    5. Schedule downtime the following day to recharge your batteries.

    It was back to the park for me, with a good book.

    I am happy to report that the experience could not have been more perfect.

    Takeaways this week:

    The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney. If you’re an introvert and want to understand why you are the way you are, or you’re an extrovert who wants to understand introverts, get this book. Includes great tips for how to find balance in an overwhelming world.

    Respect your strengths as an introvert (creativity, good listening skills, lasting relationships, persistence, concentration…to name a few), and the requirements needed to protect your energy. Constant activity and loud noise is a drain. That’s okay. Take breaks as needed, set a time limit for participation, and rest before and after engagements.

    Conversations with groups can be intimidating. It takes longer for introverts to formulate ideas when conversing (it’s how are brains are wired), but that’s okay. A good line to use: “Give me time to think about it,” or “I’ll get back to you on that.” Or just smile, maintain eye contact, and let the extroverts do all the talking. They love to!


  2. When the Small-Town Parade Passed Me By

    July 10, 2016 by Diane

    woman walking in snow

    Over four months one winter, without a job or the money to pay rent, I vacated my apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area and holed up with my father, stepmother, and sister in the tiny town of Twain Harte in the Sierras, along with their rambunctious dog, orphaned cats, and a canary that sang the Tequila Sunrise song.

    While I was immensely grateful to have a loving family who took me in and tolerated my anti-social behavior, as an introvert, being suddenly thrust into a household of people and pets, I failed miserably as a member of the tribe. I spent the days hiding in the guest room, making half-hearted attempts to write a novel.

    Carl Hogan walked downstairs with a plate of wet cat food and was never seen again.

    “What happened to Carl?” my father asked from time to time, his eagerness palpable.

    I’d mumble something unintelligible and go out for a walk in the boy’s snow boots I had purchased at the local Walmart that were a size too small, trudging down icy roads to a boulder by a ditch flowing with water, where I sat and contemplated my life.

    Occasionally, I visited the grocery store.

    On a December evening I was on one such grocery-buying escapade, when sawhorses magically appeared on the street, blocking off the one and only road out. A parade was marching in, so I stashed the groceries in my trunk and joined the crowd of onlookers.

    The tennis club led the parade, carrying their rackets and a huge banner that read “Twain Harte Tennis Club” in case there was any doubt. The Kazoo Club came next, followed by the Lion’s Club and what may have been the Dog-Walking Club, or a group of people out walking their dogs. Next up: the volunteer fire department—which is to say, the barber, the pharmacist, the newspaper editor and the taxidermist/bar owner who was also a member of the Hunting Club. A trio of girls with Shirley Temple arms rode by on their father’s shoulders—or who I assumed were their fathers but may have been the Elk’s Club. They were followed by an elderly man driving a Model T—the mayor, I guessed, and his diminutive female companion, she giving a royal wave, his more like a Texas howdy doody holler.

    I heard the marching band before I saw them, rounding the corner onto the main street led by a young man snapping his baton up and down as if he truly were leading 76 trombones to the heart of town, rather than a paltry two, along with six trumpets, three drums and a french horn striving to keep up.

    Bringing up the rear: Santa and his sleigh, with a bevy of helpers bringing up his ample rear. The float, wreathed with tiny white Christmas tree lights, played a tinny-sounding Jingle Bells from a single speaker, proving to be too much electricity for the overloaded contraption. The whole thing shorted out, and Santa froze mid-wave.

    “Ohhhhh,” wailed the crowd lining the street. They wore mufflers and snow boots and thick ski gloves, and held hot cups of cider sold by volunteers in front of the real estate office.

    A tall man standing next to me groaned and shook his head—probably one of the parade committee members who thought he had hired a jolly old Saint Nick, and not some retired bearded guy afraid of being electrocuted.

    The lights and music flickered back on.

    “Ahhhh!” said the crowd.

    Santa settled back to waving his huge white paw, and the lights flickered off.

    “Ohhhh,” said the crowd.

    And flickered on.

    “Ahhhhh!” said the crowd.

    And off.

    “Ohhhhh.”

    And on.

    “Ahhhhh!”

    And so on, until Santa disappeared around a corner, and the man next to me wiped the sweat from his brow.

    And that was that. The parade was over.

    The crowd dispersed, volunteers packed up the cider and took down the sawhorses, and I returned to my car and sat behind the wheel in the dark.

    That winter, I often felt like the parade passed me by.

    And it was that kind of parade.


  3. Tips for the New Year

    January 3, 2016 by Diane

    Gone Fishing

    It’s time, once again, for me to take a break from my blog. But I’m leaving you with some handy tips to help you navigate 2016. Some of these nuggets of nuttiness, er, wisdom, I’ve posted before. Others are goodies I’ve discovered over the past year. Enjoy!

    Do you want to gain or lose weight? Curious about how many calories you’re scarfing down daily, and whether you’re getting the right amounts of vitamins, minerals, carbs, fats and protein? Check out Cronometer, a free web application for tracking your nutrition, health data, diet, exercise and biometrics (whatever the heck those are). It’s an eye-opening experience.

    Is this the year you start writing your novel? Need a support group, maybe some guidance? Sign on to Now Novel, a structured method to help you start and finish your masterpiece. You’ll be prompted with questions about mood, theme, character, plot and so on, guiding you to develop a blueprint of your novel. You’ll also have the opportunity to get feedback from other writer’s on the site, as well as give feedback. This might be just the nudge you need to reach your fiction-writing goal.

    Okay, you’re ready to warm up those writing muscles again, but you only have fifteen minutes a day to devote to your creativity. Here are fifteen writing exercises you can do in fifteen minutes. Set your timer!

    If you’re starting a blog this year, here are 8 tips about blogging from one who knows (and my nutty take on it all).

    Looking back at 2015, do you have any regrets? Any incomplete actions, unfulfilled dreams? Turn your regrets into intentions for 2016 in one easy step.

    Got stress? If not, I want to know your secret. But if you’re like me, reeling from the holidays (or is that holi-daze?), you need some easy stress busters. When I was riffling through some old files, I happened to come across a list of 52 proven stress reducers. I don’t know where they came from or who proved them, but I’ll share four with you now. Try one a week for the next month:

    1. Go to bed fifteen minutes earlier. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you.
    2. Every day, do something you really enjoy.
    3. If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with.
    4. Do something for somebody else.

     

    Last but not least, if you’re an introvert and you want to get out of your comfort zone and attend an event, I offer hope for introverts who feel like party poopers.

    Happy 2016!