I’ve been reading Susan Cain’s Quiet, the Power of Introverts. I’ve always known I was an introvert. And for most of my life I’ve been OK with that.
When I was talking to my colleagues recently one expressed disbelief when I mentioned that I was introverted and really needed time to recharge alone. I understand why she had a hard time. She sees me at school where I am almost constantly “on.” I love teaching, reaching out to people, engaging groups in conversation, finding challenges. At meetings I always speak my mind and push back when I disagree. In class I have been known to sing and dance and use funny voices if it added to the lesson. I wear bright colors and sometimes dye my hair to match. If you only knew me at school, you would describe me as an extrovert.
But I’m not.
I dread Tuesdays because I have to give up my planning time for team meetings and so I skip our team lunch on those days so I can have some alone time. I arrive at school over an hour before the students to get some quiet preparation time in my room every morning. I decline about 50% or more of the staff’s social gatherings and often when I do attend I only stay for a short time. After school, I head home and after a quick check in with my girls I sit to read or write for a half hour to regroup. On the weekends, I drift quietly between housework, reading, writing, and school prep, perfectly content to stay at home all day long.
At a meeting the day after we released the students for the summer, the principal asked us to go around the table and tell about our summer plans. People talked about family trips, weekends with friends, and every conceivable outing involving lots of people. When it came around to me I quickly mentioned my back porch and stack of books and passed to the next person. Their smiles and nods felt like pity. But I know what I need. And now that my days of post-school-year meetings are over, I can begin my summer recharge. Today, I did laundry, took a long walk with my husband, read about 3 chapters in my current book, helped my girls get their weekend chores done, and took a nap on the patio. A few weeks of this and I will be totally ready to head back and put on a show for my new 2nd graders.