Saturday, January 2, 2016

Confessions of an outgoing introvert

As the new year dawned yesterday morning, I woke up and did what I've been doing nearly every day since Christmas Eve: exactly nothing.  It's been a wonderful week and a half of peace and quiet, save for the fireworks that woke me up at midnight on January first.  I had been out and about for the better part of New Year's Eve, so after a late dinner, I was in bed by ten-thirty.  I'm no party pooper, just enjoying the best part of wintertime -- sustained silence.
I could get used to not working.  In fact, I've absolutely surprised myself by staying out of my yoga studio and away from the computer for the better part of a week.  This time last year I had already made and wrapped presents for the 2015 holiday season, cleaned the house from top to bottom, and spent a couple dozen hours researching at the library.
But not this year...and the best part is I don't feel guilty at all for fully enjoying my "stay-cation" at home. 

As many of you know, I love, love, love to talk.  In fact, nearly every day this past week, I've had coffee dates with friends and run into folks at the gym where we chat while lifting weights or trotting on the treadmill.  Even complete strangers engage me in curiously fascinating conversations and I come home pondering a host of ideas and opportunities.  I enjoy it all.
But it wears me out.
Over coffee last week, a friend suggested a fascinating book called Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking.  I immediately picked up a copy and have been reading it ever since.  Thoroughly researched and articulately written, the author, Susan Cain, describes me to a "T".  So far, the quote with which I resonate the most is: It's okay to cross the street to avoid making small talk.  Yes, I'm a talker, but I cannot stand talking with someone just to hear myself speak...and vice versa. 
I suppose I've always been this way.  In first grade, I clearly remember talking to Billy Klatt when I was supposed to be finishing a writing assignment.  He was a year older than me and lived a few houses away from mine, so we knew each other better than the other kids in class.  I have no memory of what we were chatting about, but I do remember that he was as interested in talking with me as I was with him, which resulted in Mrs. Bureau assigning us a writing penalty because, even though we kept our voices down, we were supposed to be quiet. 
Even then, I preferred the intimacy of one-on-one conversations to the boisterous back-and-forth on the playground.   While the girls were jumping rope and the boys were playing tag, I sat as far away from the mayhem on a cement cinder-block, writing in a three-ring-notebook, imagining I was Harriet the Spy.  Surprisingly enough, I was joined not by the girls, but by a few quiet boys who made me laugh.  In the classroom, they were shy and didn't raise their hands at all, but with me on the playground, they talked about GI Joes and baseball and how they hoped we wouldn't have to get on the trampoline in gym class because that was the worst:  being up there by yourself while the whole class stood around watching you bounce around and try not to twist your ankle. 
I couldn't agree more.
As time went on, I became know as "Katie the Bookworm" or "Katie the Goody-Goody", which made me want to cloister even more.  Sure, I was friendly and chatty with my friends.  I raised my hand and answered questions in the classroom.  Still, any kind of group setting mortified me.  And sometimes it still does.

It's ironic that I've spent the better part of my adult life in front of a classroom.  I teach and nurture and guide my students.  I listen to their questions, then try to provide a clear answer.  I'm often called upon for advice or suggestions, which is just fine with me...except that it hasn't made me the listener I want to be because I'm always at the ready with a response. 
It's my intention that this year will manifest many things, the greatest of which will be the shedding of what my friend, Kendall, calls "the people I used to be".  In September I'll hit my Chiron return, which means that if I've learned the lessons from the past, I'll be able to move forward into that which I've been imagining for the past decade.  After all I've experienced in the past four years in particular, I'm hopeful that will be the case.  In any event, I'm working toward being a different kind of teacher, allowing the writer in me to move forward and stand side-by-side with the instructor.  For it's in these quiet moments alone in my creativity that I find the greatest solace.  Perhaps then I'll be able to let go of my tendency to have a response for everything and simply listen for the answer inherent in my students' questions.
Yes, I'm an outgoing introvert, but I'm also shifting into someone who now understands she cannot change the world, but can transform my little one day by day...quiet choice by quiet choice.