My Introversion Is In Danger

My introversion is in danger

What would you think if I told you my introversion is in danger? Would you wonder what in the world I meant by that?

It is, kind of. And I will.

It all started at the beginning of this year.

I took on a writing contract unlike any I’d ever done before. With a strong dose of uncertainty, I agreed to try my hand at being the writer and Content Director for a new community magazine: Greet Battle Ground & Hockinson. The idea of the magazine and the opportunity were intriguing enough to let my thirst for new challenges override the hesitancy I felt from such a wildly different type of assignment.

What was different about it?

My assignment was/is to interview local residents, business owners, athletes, high-accomplishing students and citizens, veterans and first responders so I could write stories about them and their contribution to the local community. If it sounds awesome, it’s because it IS.

Why was I hesitant?

First, because there is always a steep learning curve when taking on new work. I’d never written for a magazine before.

Second, everything about the assignment was a departure from the work I set out to do in my company. My vision, which I’d begun to realize, involved working quietly behind my laptop, mostly in solitude. Only stepping out for the networking meetings I agreed to, and meeting with clients when needed.

Other than that, I’m happy to write my clients’ marketing material, create social media content, and shoot and edit videos from the comfort of my home and close-by surroundings.

With this new assignment, everything was turned on its head. My peaceful, well-scheduled world was shaken like a snow globe. Suddenly, I was jumping in my car, sometimes on short notice, to interview article subjects or attend networking events I hadn’t anticipated. I was fielding unscheduled phone calls and being asked to jump on countless Zoom meetings.

I should add that in addition to a different type of work (magazine writing), this was also a brand-new startup magazine (franchised by an established publishing company, N2), which multiplied the frenzied activity as we (the publisher and myself) hustled to meet the deadline of our first few editions of the monthly publication.

While it was exhilarating to meet the challenges of the publishing world, it was also exhausting. I found myself tinkering with resentment at how disruptive this work was to my previous flow.

“But Summer,” perhaps you’re asking, “You’re telling me about your introversion. What about the fact that it’s in danger?”

I’m glad you asked. I was getting there.

The danger to my introvert ways

After the nearly unsustainable hustle of the first couple of months, something began to dawn on me: I was talking to more strangers than I had in YEARS. And I realized I didn’t hate it. In fact, I somehow sort of liked it! Oh, the scandal!

You see, as an introvert, we are told that being around people takes away our energy. We must be careful about how we use that energy, and limit our social outings to protect it.

I can say from experience that is largely true. Prolonged hours or days of conversation, especially with people I don’t know well, is extremely tiring. I often need to take a nap, after, say, two or three meetings with potential customers or networking associates. My energy is drained, and my brain is mush.

But here is where the plot thickens: somewhere in God’s kind and intentional design of making us community-driven creatures, there has to be a middle ground between our need for relationships and fellowship with others, and the barriers that we introverts put up.

The middle ground

This is where my experience this year has been a fascinating exploration. As a true-blue introvert, I think, defend and write about how we work and what we require to thrive. I stand behind all of that.

However, I’m entertaining the notion that guarding my social interactions to ration my energy stores is a sentiment that can be taken too far. Perhaps it could even be selfish, when practiced in extremes.

My epiphanic realization that taking with strangers and being open to interruptions isn’t so bad after all, is forcing me to reconsider my assumptions. The fact that I’ve found delight in hearing the stories of others, finding commonality over a cup of coffee with someone I just met, taking an unscheduled phone call with diminishing resentment — these have all been a strange surprise.

That’s why I say my introversion is in danger. I’m in uncharted territory.

My conclusions

As I navigate this new way of thinking, I recognize the important of nuance.

Am I going to throw my ways to the wind and go back to packing my schedule full of activities (like I did before I realized that I was an introvert)? No.

Will I abandon a carefully planned day and week and let spontaneity rule the day? Also no. A hard no, in fact.

Rather, here is a summary of the takeaways I am pondering:

  • It’s important to know your style (introvert/extrovert) and how you best operate within that framework
  • There’s nothing wrong with building a lifestyle that caters to that, for your optimum life experience
  • At the same time, being too rigid with your choices may not be advisable
  • There is beauty, joy, and wonder in getting to know the stories of others and having conversations with strangers
  • Finding a balance between how you operate best, and what is best in the moment is the way
  • The perfect formula doesn’t exist. Doing the work of figuring out what energizes you/drains you, and creating a lifestyle that flows from that is a lifelong pursuit that changes constantly. At least in my experience.

Is my introversion really in danger? Yes and no. I’ll just continue to live with the tension of avoiding extremes in any direction.

Thank you for reading! Your thoughts in a comment would be most welcome. 🙂

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