If you know me, you know I’m an introvert. But if you didn’t know that, don’t worry — my own brother recently seemed surprised that I thus classify myself.
Often people have expressed wonderment that I have not sold more work, or am not yet a highly-paid artistic director or corporate officer. Some show kind concern about my secular career and have encouraged me to be more aggressive in my work life. This used to lead me to question my own value very frequently. “As an intelligent and creative person, why does it seem that others pass me professionally, or earn more than I do despite the hours I put put into my work?”
As is borne out by various studies, anecdotes, and my own personal experience, some (small?) part of the answer to such questioning must be gender and race-related. (Women in the US still earn around 77 cents to a man’s dollar. And for every dollar our white female counterparts manage to make, us black gals get about 84 cents.)
Anyway, my spiritual beliefs cured me of those bouts of secular self-doubt; I came to realize that I didn’t want or need to seek the Hollywood happy ending I’d been fed as a child; get the girl/boy, trounce the bad guys, get rich. This realization however, does not preclude analysis of my employment history; I continue to give it thought, and even wrestle with the occasional reared head of ambition.
But only recently did I realize that MUCH of the damage done to my secular career (and self-esteem) over the years was attributable to my not meeting unrealistic societal expectations; being outgoing, networking and social ladder-climbing. Introverts are expected to suck it up, put on their extrovert face, and power through that job interview or sales call. Usually if a child is poor at sports but gifted in math, everyone praises his strengths and says, “Don’t worry about the sports, you’re brilliant in other areas.” Not so with introversion. It doesn’t matter if you are a whiz with words and images, articulate, trustworthy — if you are not good at glad-handing, small talk, and hors-d’oeuvres, the societal consensus is that you are somehow wanting. (Fortunately my parents didn’t conform to larger society, and allowed me to just read books and make art.)
See the talk which thoroughly impressed me here: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts?language=en
(スーザン・ケイン 「内向的な人が秘めている力」 With Japanese subtitles 日本語字幕があります。)
While I hate the “brooding artist” stereotype, I have to admit I do like a good brood now and then. Chit-chat is usually like Kryptonite to me. I always want to get straight to the point, and I think that’s why sometimes I may be mistaken as standoffish or aloof. My husband is very patient with me; he often seems to be the opposite, thriving on social gatherings, and boisterous restaurants, although I think he may be an ambivert. After a party or meeting a large group of people, I have to find a quiet place and recharge, often with a book or browsing news articles online.
Come to think of it, that’s probably why I love riding motorcycles as well; only room for one!