Sunday March 10, 2013

I am an Introvert: Thank you

From many of the things I read online, I realize that I really need to say "Thank you" to my parents for the way they raised my sister and me.

Far too many people, growing up, were apparently told, pushed, or nudged in directions they didn't want to go, or directions that were just wrong for them, psychologically. They were told what to study (or what not to study). "You have to be a doctor." "You can't be a writer." "You'll never make money in that field."

I was the girl who wanted to take every possible science class. When that meant I wouldn't have a lunch period in 10th grade, and the Guidance Counselor objected, my Mom said "She wants to take that class. Let her take the class. The class is more important than lunch period."

Thank you.. (I never ate in the HS cafeteria anyway.)

I Was The Introvert

I was "that kid". I was nerdy and chubby and wore glasses. I liked books and salamanders and science.

I was the Introvert child. I spent a lot of time in my "second room" where I worked on projects - model building, chemistry experiments, stitchery, writing stories. That's where I studied.

I was a kid who read a lot. Mom has reminded me that a friend and I would walk home from school to my house, then sit in the living room, each reading a book, until it was time for my friend to go home. Mom never said "Why aren't you talking? Why don't you go outside? You read too much."

Thank you.

I look back and am very happy that the soccer fad came after my sister and I were safely through school. But my bet is that, if it had happened while we were in school, my sister and I would have been given the choice, "Do you want to play soccer?". And I bet that the response to whatever we chose would have been "OK".

Thank you.

I was in band. I made my own choice of instrument to play.

I participated in an after-school ice skating program in 6th grade (my choice).

I chose to participate in the theatre group in High School. I chose to work with props. I chose to ask to be props head pin my senior year. I had plenty of self-esteem. I think I got a lot of that self-esteem from the way our parents raised us.

At the end of my senior year in High School, I went to an "end of year" party. A friend picked me up and drove. She asked my mother "When does Vicki have to be home?" and (to my friend's astonishment), my mother answered as she always did "We'll see her when we see her".

It wasn't that our parents didn't care; they cared. They also trusted us. They raised us to be reliable and sensible.

Thank you.

When I chose a double major of Computer Science and BioChem in College...
When I changed that to a single major in Microbiology in my 4th year...
When I chose a graduate program in Forensic Science and moved to Connecticut...
When I realized, in the first month, that Forensic Science was not for me and left the program at the end of the first semester...
When I chose a different Grad School program in Microbiology and moved to Maryland...

My parents reaction was that these were my decisions.

The only real "nudge" my mother gave was when I came home in the Spring after leaving the Forensic Science program and Mom said "You know you can't just live here. I assume you'll be finding a better grad school program or getting a job?" and I said "Of course." (She didn't really need to ask. Our parents had raised us to be reliable and sensible.)

Thank you.

When I stayed out until 2 am three nights a week that Spring and Summer because I loved a local band (and was friends with a band member), no one objected. I had my own key to the front door.

My Sister Was The Extrovert

We were very different.

My sister also had a second room; hers was largely unused. She spent her free time out of the house. She's a classic Extrovert.

I stayed home and worked on projects. My sister went places with her friends.
I wore glasses; my sister got contact lenses.
I loved science and expected I'd eventually work in a laboratory. My sister planned to be a teacher.
In band, I was happy not being in the spotlight. My sister advanced to second chair trumpet.

Our parents never compared us. They never told me to "get out more." They never told her to "stay home". They never asked why my sister had more friends or why I had more hobbies or why I didn't want to play a solo in band. If they ever made value judgements, they never did so out loud.

Thank you.

When my sister chose Elementary education, did her student teaching, got her degree and accepted a job as a teacher in Maryland...
When she was irked by the politics and the administration and decided, after one year, that elementary ed was not for her...
When she moved to Oklahoma for an MA in Arts Administration...
When she ended up in an HR and then a project manager role in her job...

My parents reaction was that these were her decisions.

Thank you.

Introvert Power

I realized I needed to send my parents a Thank You letter, which has become this blog post, after receiving the 2nd edition of Laurie Helgoe's book, Introvert Power. I was reading some of the quotes from readers in the front of the book. I realized how many times I've seen quotes like these before, from people who've only just now realized they are Introverts and wish they'd understood themselves sooner. It makes me sad to read these quotes.

"I just finished reading [Introvert Power], and, by the end of it, I started crying. Not because I was sad, but because I have considered my personality to be a product of a social disorder..."

My 11-year-old cried when we talked about introversion... Her being quiet is often labeled 'low self-esteem'."

"I felt justified, vindicated, explained, comprehended, normal."

"It changed my life."

These are people who felt out of place when growing up. They were judged to be "too quiet", told to speak up more, told they didn't have enough friends, told to get involved in sports, told to put down the book, told there was something wrong with them.

I've been an Introvert all of my life. I may not have had a name for it, but I was, and am, clearly different from my sister. And that never mattered. Not in Elementary school or High School. Not in College. Not in careers. Not in Life.

Because our parents raised us to be ourselves and to take pride in that.

Thank you.

I am an Introvert: Thank you ( in category Personality Type , Retrospectoscope , Treasures ) - posted at Sun, 10 Mar, 22:08 Pacific | «e»

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