As an executive manager, I took team-building seriously. I appreciated the inherent strength of diverse teams, whether related to drive, gender, and perspective, to enhance team dynamics. If you worked for me, you took a Myers-Briggs or 16 Personalities test.
It was my experience that the most effective teams on which I belonged were those mixed with differentiation of those whose focused inward or externally, processed information differently, had complementary or confrontational decision-making styles, along with differing preferred methods of engaging the world.
For the first portion of my life, I was a Commander, or ENTJ, extroverted. As I enter my second act, personally and professionally, one thing is clear. I was always an ambivert, meaning I am inclined both towards extroversion and introversion. However, with age, I am a decidedly noisy introvert.
People believe, as did I for so many years, that introverted personalities are anti-social and withdrawn. Introversion, more precisely, is a matter of the method by which you recharge, as well as a preference for calm and minimally stimulating environments.
Extroverts draw their energy from crowds, engagement, conversation, and interaction. By comparison, introverts can be socially engaged, but need time alone to process, reflect, and recharge.
I Introvert, Therefore, I Write
I have a firm grasp of the obvious. Most writers are introverts. Preferring to draw away to contemplate and consider, it was the words of Flannery O’Connor that confirmed for my head what my heart already knew.
““I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
I generally believe I know where my head is going. However, it is through the practice of writing my way through, much the way the character Shug Avery in the film version of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple describes Miss Celie scratching a blues out of her head when she was ailing, that I come to a settled place about how I feel, and how it needs to be said. My processing is active but exclusionary.
We should Listen to Life More Carefully.
I’ve always processed through writing, but we do not listen to ourselves. As writing became “the thing I can’t not do,” it was my mother who reminded me that all I talked about in childhood was becoming a writer (out of the mouths of babes, as Scripture teaches). For me it is the drawing away, the turning off as opposed to the being on of extroversion, in which I quiet myself to listen to what is real, and true, and good.
The Noisy Part
I love a good social interaction. While I have to get my game face on, I enjoy meeting new people and undertaking new experiences. I now admit that a fear of failure and rejection often kept me from diving in. I am better when I roll with a wingman. However, every time I draw a deep breath and trust the Universe, there are blessings in what I have previously forecast as storms.
Generally, people are surprised when I confess my introversion until they discover that I am a writer. I need people and engagement, and distraction to fill my head and my ears. However, to usefully distill those experiences, the fully inhabit them in order to understand, as the slave narrative goes, I need to “steal away.”
Making Peace with Your Rhythm
Initially, choosing to write felt selfish, like a privilege I dared not claim. At the time, I was an unemployed wife and mother, bereft of a career and industry I adored and needed a thing to do. Encouraged by a seer in my life, writing became my daily habit. 10 years later, it is both my profession and my passion. I get paid to write all day, and I spend the rest of my time planning, ideating, and dreaming about writing. I have found my right place in the world.
When you stop fighting the water, you float. It is the law.
It is possible to spend your entire life doing what you believe is best, or what you’ve been told you should do, but why? How much better to live out your calling, boldly doing what you were created to be and do, and pouring out that which God poured into you at the beginning of the world?
Because I had the courage and the support to be brave, I write. Because doors opened to me, I am able to participate in caring for my family, modeling a life aligned (my divine gift aligned with my vocation) to the people my husband and I raised and are sending into the world. Because we were brave, they are. Because we can, they do.
I’m noisy, meaning I talk a lot, but I write more than I talk.
Scribo ergo sum.
I write, therefore, I am.