Archive for the ‘being an introvert’ Category

Labour Plans: Older Child(ren)

We’re starting to get a bit worried about our lack of plans for Evan for when I go into labour. We don’t have family around that we can call any time, day or night. We also aren’t comfortable with asking anyone to be on call 24/7 for several weeks (because who knows when Jelly Bean will decide to make his arrival? He could be six weeks early or two weeks late).
Worst case scenario is that DH takes care of Evan – but that means he most likely won’t be with me during the birth.
If you have more than one child, what did you do with them when you went into labour (especially for those of you who are in the same boat as us and don’t have family in town)?
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Book Review: Quiet

Long-time readers of the blog know that I’m an introvert – I scored 100% on the I side of the I/E section of the Myers-Briggs personality test. Since taking that test, I have become much more accepting of myself, how I spend my time, and who I spend my time with.
A few years ago, I read (and reviewed) The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, and found many of the tips in the book to be useful. So, when I heard about Susan Cain’s book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Just Can’t Stop Talking, I was very excited to pick it up.
Quiet is a lot different than The Introvert Advantage. The latter is more of a self-help book, with tips and tricks on how to deal with certain situations, while the former was more of a review of the psychological and neurological research done on introversion versus extroversion. For a great review of the content, check out Bee’s review of the book on Backreaction.
I’ll admit, this book was a bit drier and a more difficult read than The Introvert Advantage, but was incredibly interesting nonetheless. Even though the book didn’t include a lot of specific tips for how to thrive in an extrovert world as an introvert, except in the last couple of chapters, it did validate many of my thoughts, feelings, and actions. 
For example, I know I have a socially demanding job in science outreach: I share an office, I attend a lot of meetings, and I go into classrooms 2-3 times a week to give presentations and do activities. I can do all these things while showing my pseudo-extrovert side, but as soon as the day is over I just want to crash in front of the TV or computer and be “in my head”. It’s my way of recharging in order to thrive at work the next day.
I’m feeling more and more comfortable in my introvert skin. I understand my limits, and know when I’m pushing myself too hard. For example, I know to make sure I don’t have social events two evenings in a row, or more than one social obligation on a weekend. It works for me, and I’m getting better at not apologizing for filling my needs.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the research side of things on this topic — which would mostly be interesting to introverts 😉 — there still is a lot to learn, but I hope that it opens the doors to more conversations about how to address the needs of introverts as well as extroverts at schools and in the workplace. I give this book a 4/5.
Check out Susan Cain’s TED talk about her book (and, yes, she’s an introvert and gave a wonderful TED talk). 

Sucking at networking (and that’s okay)

One thing I learned about myself at the conference last week is that I absolutely stink at networking in person. Seriously. Worse networker ever.* I cannot go up to groups of people (large or small) and weasel my way into the conversation. I can try to convince myself to do it all day long, but it’s just not going to happen.
That being said, I am okay with going up to people who are also on their own. Maybe it’s because they’re not as threatening, or maybe I feel “in tune” with them more. Regardless, I can do that all day long and feel fine. I’m also very good with carrying on a conversation with people who approach me.
I’m not a huge fan of going to social events at conferences. I do try to stretch myself and go to a couple, but there’s no way I’d force myself to go to all of them. In this case, there were four, so I went to two. That’s pretty good in my books. 
I think my networking suckage was exaggerated by the fact that I did not know one person at this conference going in. It also didn’t help that it seemed that everyone else at the conference has known each other for a lifetime.**
In the end, though, I’ve decided it’s not something I need to work on and/or worry about too much. After all, this is who I am and I’m okay with that. I know it takes a lot of energy out of me to interact with others. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it (I do outreach for a living!) – it just means I need time to recover before heading back in. Plus, I still get lots of great ideas and contact information of people who would be good collaborators or otherwise – and, for me, that’s really the point of conferences.

It’s nice to be happy with the way I am.

If this sounds like you – or someone you know – I would recommend the book The Introvert Advantage. I also have Quiet in my to-read pile, another book written about and for introverts.
*I’m not looking for any advice on how to become a better networker here – I know all the things I’m “supposed” to do. I’ve read the articles and books – it’s just not in my nature.
**And before you say it’s in my head, the vast majority of the speakers were introduced by saying “and you all know this person, so they need no introduction **insert inside joke here**” followed by laughter of 95% of the audience. I actually wrote about this in the feedback survey because it was so common.

My Valentine

DH and I, in our 4.5 years together, never really go all-out on Valentine’s Day. We get each other a card, maybe a box of chocolates or a home-made coupon book, and have a nice dinner at home.

Each year I think to myself that maybe we should do more. But, then I realize that the way we celebrate is us: simple and low-key.

We’re both fairly introverted, and that really works for us. We love hanging out in our house, just watching TV or movies, playing with Evan, talking over a home-made meal, or working on the house. I think that’s why we’ve put so much time, money, and energy into making our home very comfortable – because we love spending time here!

I am so happy to have found someone who likes being at home just as much as I do. This year, we’ll be doing it again. But, we have the wonderful pleasure of adding Evan to the mix!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Social Awkwardness?

I attended my first pre-natal aquafit class recently. I thought it would be a great way to get some (much needed) exercise and to meet other mothers-to-be. I was right. The class is 1.5 hours, and the first 30 minutes is dedicated to pregnancy-related discussions. At my first class, we went around the room and said how we were feeling about the birth/labor process (second time moms were asked to tell the group about techniques they used to get through it the last time around). After the discussion, we all headed down to the pool for an hour. It is a very relaxed atmosphere where everyone chats while following the instructor.
Now, the problem may have arisen because I was joining the class half-way through (all the other ladies had taken 3 classes together already) – but I felt like a total dork! I couldn’t get up the nerve to talk to anyone, and I felt very awkward at the beginning of class when we were waiting for it to start and everyone was talking amongst themselves. I truly felt like the shy geek in the corner!

Thankfully, in the pool, one of the other ladies struck up a conversation with me and we chatted during the workout. I found it easy to talk with her, but she had to initiate.

Well….when the heck did this happen? I always thought of myself as an outgoing, easy-to-talk-to person. I’m not sure when it changed, but sometime over the last few years my socializing skills have gone down hill. I think I’ll blame it on being in an extremely anti-social environment over the last five years, for being around physicists longer than that, and for not having many friendships outside the realm of academia.

I really hope these classes help me get these skills back! I don’t want to be the shy woman in the corner who never speaks to anyone. That’s not who I am!

A Losing Battle?

Last time, I posted about how I’m not feelin’ the outreach program I’ve been trying to develop for the last few months.

Micro Dr. O and Cath made some interesting comments:

(MDO) I’d say if you’re already unhappy with the project, then, unfortunately it’s probably not going to get much better.

(Cath) It really does sound like this project is going to make you unhappy either way.

These got me wondering: what has happened in the last few months to make me go from super-excited and gung-ho about this project, to wanting to walk away?

I know exactly what it is: people.

You see, a couple months ago, I met with another person who is creating a similar program at another telescope in Canada. He had all sorts of great ideas, one of which was to put a steering committee together to help me write a business proposal.

At first, I thought this was a great idea – I could bounce ideas off others and the program could benefit from their experiences and unique skill sets. But, as time goes on, I’m not sure if it’s a good way to get things done.

First of all – I’m an introvert. So, I have a huge problem articulating myself in groups. It’s not that I don’t know how to talk…no…it’s more like I let people finish their sentences, or it takes me a few seconds for things to sink in before I want to say my part. Most people, though, are extroverts – they feed off interrupting and talking over each other. So, I tend to get pushed to the background, while everyone else is freely voicing their opinions.

I also have an issue in trying to be “the leader” of the committee. Even though I have ample experience in developing and running outreach programs, I feel looked down upon because I am younger than everyone else on the committee. I don’t think it’s understood that this is my program, and I’ve asked them to be on the committee to help out, not take over.

Adding these two together, I have a hard time “wrangling the troops”. I send out a list of things I want to talk about at a meeting in the hopes people will stick to the topics, but this never happens. We often go off topic, and when I try to get things back on track, it lasts for about five minutes before someone else goes off on another tangent (again, good for extroverts, not so good for introverts).

Lastly (and Cath alluded to this in her comment asking if I can “cut the fat” and get back to basics), all of these people have great ideas….but sometimes it gets out of control. I really want the program to start small and simple, and to grow at a sustainable rate. But, every time I start talking about an event, all of a sudden we’re inviting the local who’s who, hosting a black-tie banquet, or entertaining 300 Scouts from across Ontario.

What it comes down to is I’m not enjoying working with a team. They are wonderful people, have great ideas, and lots of energy…but I just cannot “manage” the meetings the way I would like too. Things are getting totally out of hand, and I just want to scale back and start from the beginning again.

Does anyone have any advice on how to deal with this situation? How can I become “the leader” without turning into “the bitch”? How do I get them to understand that their role is “helper” not “taker-over-er”? Part of me wants to disband the whole idea of a steering committee, but I think if I could find a way to make it work, it would really benefit both me and the program.

Outreach Conference

Today is the last day of the outreach conference (well, it’s on tomorrow too, but I’m not going). It’s been interesting, but again (like always happens with these conferences) I just feel so overwhelmed, and my stomach is in knots about going back today. In fact, I’m up before 6am because I just can’t sleep.

Yesterday I figured out why I get so anxious at these conferences – although I had an inkling all along: I am way more introverted than the majority of people there.

We all took this work profile test, and it gives you a “mark” on a scale of 30 for four work/personality traits. These are introvert/extrovert, structured/flexible, creative/practical, and analytical/beliefs.

In general, there is about a 2:1 ratio of extroverts to introverts, which was the case at the conference. What was interesting though, is a lot of people were on the extreme end of the extrovert scale (i.e., scores of 15 and above). My score was 18…on the introvert side. Only one person (out of about 50) was more introverted than me at 22. The next most introverted had scores of 11/12.

Interestingly, people were really surprised that I was that much of an introvert. Mostly because I can speak to people well, I share my opinions, etc.. It really bothers me that there is a stigma that introverts are social idiots who are shy and scared of people. That’s just not the case! It’s just that it takes energy for us to interact with people…while that gives energy to extroverts. They feed off of it, while introverts feed off of alone time.

So, I really started to understand why this conference in particular grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. Seriously. These people just keep talking and talking and talking and talking. They also love being in big groups, and end up going everywhere together…and talking. It wears me down so quickly that I end up opting out of dinner plans because I just cannot handle it anymore.

I am dreading going back today.

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