A while ago on facebook a discussion came up about whether or not I'm an extrovert or an introvert. My mother said there is no way one could be a Jensen and be an introvert. My mother-in-law is pretty sure I am an introvert.
It really got me thinking. I read a bit of the book Quiet after watching a video of the author on Ted.com
I am pretty sure I am actually a mix of introvert and introvert. The older I get, the more of an introvert I become. Susan Cain says that it can be defined by how you respond to stimulation. Introverts are people who need time to get away and re-energize themselves after they've been around people. Extroverts are energized by being around people. For me, it depends on what is happening with the crowd and how I feel with them. If I'm with my book club friends I feel energized and can talk with them for hours. If I'm with a rowdy crowd who is simply "partying" I can only handle it for so long. I need a break from the craziness. Some of the websites I have read on this topic have led me to think I'm more of an ambivert.
I have found that in my classroom I can't have too much craziness. I always thought I was a bit of a flower child teacher. I was happy with children roaming, eating snacks when they feel they need to, and working on projects of personal interest. I can't though. I do need order and quiet and my classroom is actually quite structured. I have taught my students to come in quietly, to quickly get to their desks, and to get to work. If they have something they need to talk to me about they can do that when I come around to check their homework and to have a one on one chat with of them. If the day starts with kids all rushing to me with questions and comments I start to get a little crazy. It's important for me that all the children are engaged and that everyone has an equal chance to participate and so I need to be careful to structure things so that the children who tend more towards introvert personality types have opportunity to participate and don't get talked over by all the extroverts in the room.
For me, in my own person life, solitude does matter. I am a self-confident person and I am quite independent. I did a quiz online and this was the result from the answers I gave:
Independent Thinkers like you are analytical and witty persons. You are self-confident and do not let yourself get worked up by conflicts and criticism. You are very much aware of your own strengths and have no doubts about your abilities. People of your personality type are often very successful in their career as they have both competence and purposefulness. Independent Thinkers are excellent strategists; logic, systematics and theoretical considerations are your world. You are eager for knowledge and always endeavour to expand and perfect your knowledge in any area which is interesting for you. Abstract thinking comes naturally to you; scientists and computer specialists are often of this type.
Independent Thinkers are specialists in their area. The development of your ideas and visions is important to you; you love being as flexible as possible and, ideally, of being able to work alone because you often find it a strain having to make your complex trains of thought understandable to other people. You cannot stand routine. Once you consider an idea to be good it is difficult to make you give it up; you pursue the implementation of that idea obstinately and persistently, also in the face of external opposition.
As an Independent Thinker, you are one of the introverted personality types. That is one of the reasons you prefer to work alone. This does not mean that you cannot be successful in a team, as well. For you, the task is most important and people who are involved come second. The contact with others, the necessity to adjust yourself to their daily changing sensitivities - all of it is just more gratuitous emotion that keep you from totally devoting yourself to those things that truly interest you: analyzing systems and policies, researching potentials for change, developing new ideas and implementing them in reality.
Here you differ from the second introverted Thinker type, the Analytical Thinker: You truly enjoy implementing your concepts and you enjoy the results. Therefore you should look for a work environment where you can accompany and expedite your ideas through to their conclusion. You consider difficult situations as challenges that really try your creativity and you frequently surprise people around you with genuinely incredibly bright ideas, rendering others speechless with their excellence. Your world consists of statistics, legitimacy, and systematics.
Considering all of this, your Thinker type is very praxis-oriented, and by no means lives on an intellectual ivory tower. You are not interested in theories not related to reality. As in chess, you are excellent at predicting the consequences of your methods in advance, and then choosing the appropriate alternative. Once you have made your decision on how to deal with a situation, you are totally willing to use your elbows and you don’t necessarily show any consideration for others. With that, you occasionally encounter resistance from other, less task-oriented colleagues that you quickly brush aside.
It has been quite an interesting exercise. I'm okay with being a bit of an introvert, even if I'm in a family of people who are strongly extroverts. If I go off and read a book at a family event people want to know why I'm being less than social and encourage me to put the book away. I clearly understood it isn't the time for reading. One thing I noticed when I started to socialize with the family I married into that there would often be someone off in a corner absorbed in a book - and no one had an issue with that. It was fascinating.
One of the best experiences of my life was going to Education Week at BYU. I went with a friend who was really more interested in going there to do some shopping than attending classes all day - or at least the majority of the day, like I had intended. I ended up spending most of my day alone going to different workshops. At the end of each day I would run across campus and go to the temple in Provo. It was the greatest experience ever and I resolved that if I were to go to Education Week again I would definitely go alone and so that I would have time for solitude and learning. I absolutely loved it.
Susan Cain says we need to stop the madness for constant group work. Collaboration is good, but people do need some time to do their own thinking and planning and working. I'm grateful to work somewhere that encourages collaboration, but also allows me to work on my own. She also says we need to have time to go to the wilderness. We all could stand some time to unplug and get inside our own heads a little more often. She also encourages us to have the courage to speak softly.
Something to think about!