Monday, March 05, 2012

An introverted extrovert...or vice versa

I'm a practicing extrovert, which means I'm an introvert living in a mostly extroverted world, and I'm  trying to connect with humanity in ways other than through writing and discussing writing.

It's not that I don't like people. I do.  I need people as much as everyone else.  It's just that since I communicate best through writing, I must remember my other skills require honing, too.

Being an extrovert has its perks.  It gets me out of the solitary confinement of my head.  It helps me forward my mission.  It helps me keep perspective and direction.  My brain can be a confusing, distracted place. 

It's hard to express love in a totally introverted way.  Love must be demonstrated through voice and action. Merely writing letters and blogs and dedications doesn't do the trick.  Babies must be more than fed, held and rocked.  Honesty and justice must be proclaimed and defended.  Speaking out is obviously necessary to speaking out.  And giving of talents must be offered, first.

Being an extrovert takes time, patience and understanding.  Many times, I want to escape conversation because it makes me uncomfortable.  Small talk isn't my forte.  Speaking to strangers, other than through brief chatter, isn't my first preference.  Public speaking is stressful in certain environments, and I'm not fluent in monologue other than that which takes place in my interior.  In interviews, I sometimes sound like an idiot, interjecting enough "ahs" and "ers" to sound like a stutterer.  I lose my words in absence of a dictionary.  If I don't make myself practice, I tend to listen rather than respond.

People don't believe me when I tell them I'm an introvert.  They assume when I'm a chatterbox, laugh loudly and make eye contact, my true personality comes through.  In a way, they are correct, because extroversion has become part of me.  It is certainly necessary in my live, classroom teaching.  But these things are not evidence of my natural tendencies.

Being a writer means living in your head, to some extent.  I used to think I wanted to write full-time, until I realized doing so would turn me into a recluse.  For awhile, I didn't work outside the home. My communications were mostly online.  I was slowly going craz(ier).  I was forgetting how to talk.

Sometimes, now, I provoke other introverts with my strangeness.  I get a certain amount of enjoyment out of this because the reactions are somewhat like mine when I'm provoked--wonderment and amusement, assuming the provocation is in good fun.  I try not to make people feel uncomfortable, but I like to see them smile.  It makes me feel good, and it makes me feel better that I can make someone a little happier just by my being a weirdo.

I can be a total freak when I'm writing, expressing things I'd never say aloud.  But I can tone it down in my extroversion and usually do.  On the other hand, I can edit and explain my writing through further writing.  But I can't go back and edit my speech, and it's more difficult to explain what I meant to say. People don't like to listen.  Then again, they often don't like to read, either.

So now, I must get ready to teach, to offer my extroverted side.  My introverted side writes, "Katherine, go brush your teeth and clean your smelly body.  You look like the wrath of God.  Do your hair, for the love of St. Pete.  Then go teach like a real extrovert.  You know you can do it."

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