Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Power of Introverts

I highly highly encourage you to watch this lecture. Even though it's nineteen minutes long, the time really flies because it is incredibly interesting (I've already watched it twice--yes, it's that good). Since my blog is titled Introvert's Introduction and since I myself am an introvert, I thought you all would really enjoy this video. (If you are planning on watching it, you should do so before you continue reading.)

Susan Cain speaks on how introverts are forced to live in a generally extroverted world. Kids have to work in groups at school, many jobs are in stimulating environments, and everyone seems to have the mindset that the more outgoing you are, the better your life will be. That's a pretty tough place to be in if you're an introvert. Cain also talks about how there are many different places a person could be on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. For me, I oftentimes enjoy being surrounded by people (I'm specifically thinking of high school dances and whatnot), but usually I would rather go to coffee with friends or to dinner or to someone's house. Being around many people wears me out after awhile and I feel perfectly happy coming home after a long day to sit in my room reading a book or editing photos.

Growing up, I always hated working in groups, unless of course I didn't understand the particular task, then I was happy to come together with someone who knew more than me. Cain talks about how even though our society should turn around and gear things more towards introverts (solitude working as opposed to group working), it is still necessary to brainstorm with other people. But--and she made an interesting point relating this to religious figures--great revelations come from being in solitude. That being said, without people to communicate those revelations to, there would have been no growth in the religious institutions (and you can make this if/then scenario with any institution).

I find that idea of solitude to revelation (creativity, problem-solving, etc.) to be very true in my own life. Recently I bought a dress pattern and have spent the past few days alone in the basement, sewing away and piecing together fabric. And I have had so much fun doing that, it's probably on my list of top five fun things I've done all summer. I just really enjoy the challenge of putting together a puzzle and spending time with my thoughts and creating something all by myself. I just love love doing that. On my mirror in my room I have written in the corner, "Every once in a while, blow your own mind," and I have been trying to live by that saying. My way of blowing my mind might be different than someone else's way. For me, it's creating a dress from scratch or taking a beautiful photo or writing a novel. But also, it could very easily include becoming more engaging in group activities or going out of my way to make friends (which I will have to do in college). It goes both ways. In the video, Cain says that she's not trying to make extroverts sound bad, because the world needs both, it's just that we need to have a balance. Introverts should try to collaborate more and extroverts should go off and think and be alone to build thought.

At the very end of her lecture, she gives three awesome points:

1. Stop the madness for constant group work.

This one made me laugh so hard. I never understood why teachers in school constantly wanted group activities. Even in subjects that I liked such English, I hated working in a group. It wasn't because of the people, but simply because I would much rather come up with my own ideas instead of having to listen to other people talk on and on or having to compromise what I thought was a correct answer for the sake of the group. But at the same time, I loved how in English class, we also had class discussions, where we would just play off of everyone's ideas and new thoughts would arise. It was a very kinetic way of learning, to be alone with your thoughts for a moment, share them with the class, and generate new thoughts as other people shared their own.

2. Go to the wilderness.

I know even when I am just outside taking photos in the yard, I feel so happy and alive. There's just something about nature and being immersed in it that is really calming. Also, whenever my family goes camping, we have to leave the laptops, the tv, sometimes the cell phone behind. It's nice to get away from all the stress because let's be honest, technology can be stressful. I know I never knew how hard it was to run a blog until I actually started doing it. One just feels renewed when they go into the wilderness. I know when I come back from camp, I want to limit my time indoors even more so that I can be surrounded by creation. There's so much noise in the world, but the trees make beautiful music.

3. Open up your suitcase.

Susan Cain told a beautiful story in the beginning of her lecture of how she brought a suitcase of books with her to summer camp but then never took them out because the more extroverted people deemed it inappropriate to go off alone and read.

For me, this last point is exactly my mission for Introvert's Introduction. This place is a chance for not only me to show what's in my suitcase, but for others to share what's in theirs. People are just so so unbelievably amazing and I don't know how I can stress that enough. Every story, every experience, every little detail that you have is incredibly important and amazing (yes, even those bad stories and experiences and details) and no story should go untold. So I hope you have the courage to show people a little bit of what's in your suitcase. Introvert's Introduction is my little suitcase. I am very open here and quite honestly, I love being able to have the opportunity to share my life with you, because my life is amazing ... and your life is amazing. Life is just so amazing! and lives are meant to be shared.

I know this post is a bit different, but I hope to have more like it in the future. And I do want this to become more of a community and not always just me talking about myself (though that will fill up a lot of the space as it is my sort of diary), so I've been brainstorming a bit (going into the wilderness) on how to do that. I'm still not sure yet, and with college on the horizon it may be a while yet. But that's okay. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this question: what's in your suitcase? What's one story that has made you who you are today?

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