On campus we have been interviewing candidates, one of which will become my boss, over the last couple of days. This experience, along with being enlightening about Higher Ed has brought about a considerable amount of introspection, which I didn't expect. The interviews are done in a panel setting with the various groups with whom the candidate will interact. I love the idea of the panel interview for this reason, but it definitely intimidates me on a very deep level. One of the candidates in particular stood out to me for a myriad of reasons, particularly that he was a self-proclaimed, "huge geeky nerd" and also and introvert.
I am both of those things, and have always been proud of those things. However, the topic of his introversion came up when reviewing the candidates with the panel the next morning, and the perception of these self proclamations was not favorable. I was a little surprised... a precious little... that even in higher ed the world views introversion as an unfavorable trait. In a highly extroverted world, the subject of introvert continues to hold a negative connotation. I needed internal clarity about my status. So I took an introverted moment.
We are the contemplative wall flowers. I am not an outward wall flower, but I cling to the outskirts of any situation that is a large group, or even unfamiliar. I just do it with a learned grace. We are the collaborators. I am not usually quick or eloquent in a large unfamiliar group, but if we are face to face I can help solve the world's problems. We are the thinkers. I am not the first one to dive right in and attack something, but I can help reason a way in and out of it, if given time. We are the strong. It takes a great deal of energy, effort, and an incredible tool set developed over time to thrive in an extroverted world. And so, we are the reason peace and quiet was created... OK, that might be a stretch.
Just because we are introverts doesn't mean we aren't personable or approachable. In fact, it's usually exactly the opposite. We might derive our energy from our reflective alone time, but that helps us be with people with a calm and collected perspective. Just because we don't get our charge from being with people all of the time doesn't mean we can't lead a large group or be good leaders. This attitude that I'd witnessed, be it ever so small, led me to consider leadership as well; the things I truly value in a leader, and attributes I hope to possess as I lead. Among the qualities I valued most high was, aside from my ever-present passion for accountability, approachability. I consider myself to be highly approachable and value that as a strength. For my introversion, being approachable is a learned behavior. Those acting classes didn't hurt, either.
I think I'm a pretty good time in most situations... it takes a lot of mental prep work, but once I've deployed my parachute of learned behaviors (that now come naturally), I float gently into the party and fight my magnet to the wall. I do have a passion for entertaining and hospitality, but I want to do it on my terms. It's all about learning, creating and using tools.
I will be interested to see if either of my children gravitate toward the introverted side. Right now, there's a whole group of people-people living in this environment, and it seems that the children feed off of that. I think Ronan is exhibiting signs of needing his "recharge" time, which, of course, I am sensitive to. I have noted that it's worth noting... I like notes- and I'm fairly certain extroverts do, too.
It resonated with me that the candidate volunteered this information because I felt like I could relate to him, and I thought it took a lot of strength to vocalize this fact. I am happy to be the way I am. I find my energy in a quiet moment. I constantly look for ways to improve my people skills. In my efforts to recharge, I have found self awareness. I feel good being by myself. It's important to know that you're alright on your own. So many people aren't, and can't find peace. I take comfort that I was born with personality traits that are contrary to society's "norm" which enable me to find quiet in a very loud world.
Moment of Design captured....