I am an introvert. What does that mean? It means different things for different people. For me, being introverted and being analytical are interwoven. I am quiet and reserved because I observe and think. There is usually a lot going on in my head.
Being analytical has served me well, though. It enables me to plan, break down problems, and develop strategies. It can also be exhausting. If I am sitting in a room with a lot going on, I find it very hard to focus. My wife, also an introvert, does not have this problem. I am jealous of her ability to tune out the world around her while reading a book. To me, all sensory input must be processed.
This has ramifications for home and work. At work, it means cubicles and open floor plans are one step up from being boiled in oil. In such environments, I am less productive and any productivity I have takes focused effort. It’s not that I can’t participate in collaborative work. I can discuss plans and problems with a team, but when the session is over, I’m still thinking about it, sometimes for hours.
Work this past week has been noisy on both fronts. We’ve been in a different workspace with much less privacy; my workstation is in a room with up to 8 other people in it. Add to that, we’ve been doing planning and analysis for some very unpleasant contingencies. I’ve been coming home very tired. My mind has been mulling over “what-if’s” and “how will we’s” in addition to normal work stuff. It’s part of why I haven’t blogged as much this week. I’ve been drained, and most of what I’ve been focused on isn’t within the scope of this blog.
But this isn’t just a personal issue. I wonder at my co-workers. Who else is being sucked dry just because we are in a different setting? Because the normal routine is altered? I imagine it is not just people exactly like me. It may be those who need a consistent workplace or routine to be effective. On the other hand, I imagine some are probably energized by the change of venue and schedule.
Fortunately, I have a very understanding wife, partly because we are alike in a lot of ways. We both value order and quiet. We like to talk, but we are also comfortable being quiet together. The things that make our house pleasant for her do the same for me.
It is also fortunate that introversion has become more understood in our society recently. Susan Cain’s book, Quiet Revolution, has been a key in this new awareness, but it is still up to us to find ways to survive in an extroverted world. I’m not advocating for introvert rights (though I can dream) as much as trying to navigate our world as an introvert.
Our society rails against us with a bias toward extroverts and the mantra to be “agile and adaptable.” What if instead, we have people who produce well in a “paced and predictable” environment? We may not be able to control the world, but we can shape our corner of it.
As a second-order effect of this past week — and the anticipation of next week being like it — I’m considering how to stay energized and creative in the midst of those things that drain me. I will take all opportunities I can to recharge in quiet, peaceful environments. Isaiah 30:15 could well be one of my life verses:
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”