Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
–Leonard Cohen, from “Anthem”
Accidentally came across this quote via Facebook today and just loved it. It led me to the rest of Susan Cain’s website about introverts and her new book, Quiet.
During every session of my online class, I have my students take an online version of the classic Myers-Briggs personality inventory: Personality Type Explorer. Personally, I am an INFJ which is the result I also get when taking the paper version of the test as well as other online versions. So, it seems pretty consistent. I feel I am more accurately an “extroverted-introvert” (which isn’t a real category)—I really enjoy being around people and I’m friendly and social, but on the flip side I then feel very drained after people contact and need time alone to recharge. I find I am restored by being alone and drained by being with others (even though I like them!), hence my own self-labeling as “extroverted-introvert.” Though, of course, by definition it isn’t actually that extroverts “like people” and introverts don’t like people, it is a difference between whether they are fueled or drained by people contact. I’ve just observed that people seem to make an assumption that being introverted means someone is “shy” or “doesn’t like people,” so that’s why I choose extroverted-introvert for myself.
On the website above, I read Cain’s Manifesto, which contained these gems:
“1. There’s a word for ‘people who are in their heads too much’: thinkers.”
I have heard this phrase more times than I can count—“you think too much.” While often said with a teasing air, it is also tinged with a touch of shaming. Once, several years ago, I mentioned feeling “too busy” to an acquaintance. She responded with, “it is good to be busy, then you don’t have time to think.” I was stunned by the concept then and I remain stunned by it now—no time to think? What kind of life would that be?! Sounds hellish to me. When I begin feeling like I have no time to think or that I don’t have enough space in my own head, that is my personal cue that I need to make life changes. While I can “overthink” things or ruminate in pointless and self-berating ways, most of the time I really enjoy my own company. I like time to think and I love time spent in my own head. It is a pretty interesting and fun place to be. And, for me then, writing is thought made visible. (This brings me to Cain’s third point in her manifesto was: “3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.”)
And, finally, her fifth point appealed to the homeschooler in me:
“5. We teach kids in group classrooms not because this is the best way to learn but because it’s cost-efficient, and what else would we do with the children while all the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there’s nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the model.”
(I love the casual acknowledgement that a primary purpose of government school is to provide publicly funded day care while parents are at work.)
My own kids love being home best of all (actually, they may love visiting my parents’ even better!). They always have each other for company though. I do not know if I’ve ever fully expressed how very much I love having this pair of boys. It is phenomenal. They pretty much play with each other from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. Day in and day out each spends with his best buddy, his brother. Last weekend we had a family wide meltdown over something pretty silly, but the whole family ended up yelling about it and Lann ended up in his room for a while because the boys needed to be separated (besides being best buddies, they each have a “signature” behavior that leads to some challenges—L’s is to tease/taunt and then laugh in a horrible mocking way when Z gets upset, and Z’s is to throw massive “rage fits” that involve physical attacks). Z kept begging and begging for Lann to be able to come out of his room (L wanted to stay in because he was really upset and crying and mad) and then said to us, “you don’t understand, I HAVE to be with my BROTHER!” While it is an unfortunate example because of the family wide meltdown context, it was very telling about the depth and quality of their relationship and I just feel extraordinarily fortunate that they like each other so very much and are such an integrated and committed unit.
This experience with a pair of brothers is one of the things that makes me want to have just one more baby—so A has a chance to have that intense sibling connection too. Of course, there are no guarantees that she would bond that well with a younger sibling—it could be a sibling rivalry torture fest that drives me screaming from my home with no scrap of time left to think. And, I know it is extremely ridiculous to plan to have kids to be friends for other kids (how would that hypothetical other baby feel to know that it was only born to be a buddy for someone else?!) And, of course, she has her two big brothers to be her friends. The boys are such a tight pair though and are enough older than she is that I don’t think she’ll ever be on the true friend level with either of them.
Okay, so I started on one topic and ended somewhere totally different. Ah, well.