Musings from an introvert

If I say to you how do you describe an introvert and if I told you I was one what would you think and say.  Most people when you say your an introvert they naturally assume that an introvert is quiet and unsociable, doesn’t have a lot to say and are not leaders or change makers.

The truth is an introvert is someone who gains energy by being on their own and finds social situations overwhelming and draining.  Whereas an extrovert is energised by social situations and is probably the sort of person who cannot cope with silence for too long and would get edgy and bored.  There are those who lie somewhere in the middle (they are known as ambiverts) but normally there is a dominant trait of being either primarily an extrovert or introvert.

I’m now going to address some of the misconceptions about being an introvert. One  assumptions is that they are not sociable.  In a group for instance if an introvert is quiet it is deemed they are not engaging.  Not true in a group an introvert is fully alert, they are observing, listening and waiting patiently for a spot to put their point of view across or a make a comment.  I remember a time when I was at a friends house quite a number of years ago and we had some kind of party I think. After the food we all sat around and plenty of chatter was going on It may have appeared to some that I wasn’t happy, but on this occasion far from it, I was basking in the happy atmosphere of my friends, I was also feeling the joy of the connection I had with the group, I didn’t feel I needed to speak just being in the presence of that particular group of people made me feel content.  So don’t assume that if someone you know in a group is quiet don’t assume that they are bored or antisocial , but just make sure that they are ok and having a chance to speak if they want to and most important of all enjoying themselves.

Another occasion where a similar thing may occur is in meetings in a workplace or any other place where a more serious discussion is taking place where important decisions are being made. If a colleague or friend is being quiet don’t assume the misconception I mentioned above.  Here’s what happens when I’ve been in meetings, a discussion takes place, I’m taking everything in, observing the interactions between different people, listening to what people are saying and how others are responding, mulling, analysing and processing all that’s being said, by the time I’ve come to some thoughts of my own the chair has moved on to the next topic, this is common amongst introverts, I only learnt this recently, I thought this was me being slow, far from it I just process and handle information differently from external sources.  What I used to do in situations like that a few hours or days after that meeting I would go to my boss and share with him or email him some of my thoughts regarding that meeting.  So if there’s anyone in your office/church/group who doesn’t appear to be engaging in meetings, either give them a chance to speak or ask them to see you if they have any comments to make regarding the meeting that’s just took place or  to send them in an email or speak with them later.

It’s easy to assume from observation that an introverted person should not be considered for promotion or take charge of a particular project that involves other people.  Introverts given the right dynamics can really shine in groups, they make good chairs in meetings as that truly is an observational role, they can set the pace, and tend  not to shoot from the hip as much as an extrovert is likely to do and consider a decision carefully before opening their mouth.

Introverts love people it’s just the way they interact with others is different and the amount of time required.  Introverts generally prefer one to one conversations rather than group discussions, they can become more extrovert in those circumstances and anyone can see that an introvert has a lot to say on many subjects, introverts are less comfortable with small talk and prefer to get into meaty topics of conversation but  also like diverse conversations, where the topics are stimulating.

For me as an introvert it can be difficult in groups the conversation flows and I can’t get a word in edgeways, the extroverts are constantly interrupting each other with hardly a breath of space.  I can’t tell you how many times I start to say something in a discussion group and I’ve been interrupted or over talked.  People will say they don’t hear me, others say that’s not the case they can hear me fine.  So I can sit in silence knowing full well that a conversation will take place that I can’t enter into much as I want to.  I then feel drained because I’ve say spent a few hours listening to everything everyone else has been saying digesting it all etc, without feeling I’ve participated.  People then have the perception that I’m antisocial or aloof, which is not the case.

The additional hearing loss I have doesn’t help, I’m having to concentrate more in noisy environments, I often think if I wasn’t hearing impaired I probably would be more of an extrovert.

Another misconception is that introverts don’t know how to have fun.  Well that’s not true. I certainly love having fun, just not in public places and only with friends who I trust, who I can let my hair down with, in those situations I can be just as crazy and silly as any extrovert.

A recent experience for me is a great example of how I can interact as an introvert.  Every couple of months or so myself and 3 fellow female friends go to a local Chinese and have a meal and chat.  It’s great, it’s a small number of people in not too busy environment (although the environment can be noisy sometimes) we all get chance to chat, share and laugh while having a nice meal.  I find my conversation flows easily with others and I don’t feel drained when I go home.  I can enjoy myself with a group of people being sociable and its possible in certain situations that people would not even realise I was an introvert because even I can be loud and outgoing.

So next time you see someone or know someone who seems generally quiet but pipes up on a one to one, your most likely dealing with an introvert.  If that person tends to refuse invites to large parties or gatherings you may well be dealing with an introvert.  If a family member tends to be seemingly passive in a crisis they may well be an introvert.

Generally introverts are better at speaking than writing.  I can speak well sometimes if I’m prepared, but not if I’m put on the spot.  Introverts are great communicators their style is just a little different.  So please don’t assume they can’t do public speaking or write for a publication, you may be surprised what they can come up with, if given some warning!!

Introverts don’t really feel comfortable  being in the limelight and find it hard to do self promotion, but again I think it’s down to preparation and timing, just being thrust in the limelight is difficult for an introvert, but if they are given time to emerge gently then they can handle it better.

Finally  a note to my extrovert friends.  I value you very highly, those bubbly outgoing  social butterflies, I think you are awesome.  It’s easy to assume that extroverts are thoughtless individuals.  Well many of my extrovert friends are pretty thoughtful and caring people.  Have recognised my need for one to one time, so I respect their need for loud open spaces.  Some of them will recognise that I’m quiet and will ask me if I’m ok or if I have anything to say.

My new hobby

Around about last November when it was getting cold, I decided to try my hand at baking.  It had nothing to do with the craze for British Bake Off, not at all.  I have barely watched an episode, I don’t watch much tv these days anyway.  So I decided to get some items together and start baking.  Why start baking now, I suppose I thought it would be nice to bake something for a group that I attend on a Monday, and I was in the kind of mood to try and something new.

There is a bit of history of baking in my family, my great grandmother on my dad’s side was an impressive cook apparently she could take any ingredients in her cupboard and make something out of it, and as a child my mum used to cook recipes that she had taught her, including a delicious version of spaghetti bolognaise that no one else does in the same way at all.  My mum was a brilliant cook mind you most people think their mums are great cooks. I loved her roast dinners, shortbread, stir frys which she did in later life.  My nan on my mum’s side had been a caterer in a restaurant, she was great with pastry such as jam tarts and Yorkshire puddings.  She taught me about the importance of having cold hands for pastry and how to pour drinks, there is a method to pour a drink without spilling it.

My other nan did some Viennese biscuits, not the whirls you see in the shop, they were shaped in a crescent moon shape and contained almonds, I remember her making a grape tart for my grandfather who was diabetic.  She wasn’t as a good a cook as the rest of the family.

As far as me in my mum’s  kitchen is concerned. my mum didn’t particularly help me to learn to cook with my sight problems, although she would let me chop the parsley and stir white sauce and obviously get me to help wash up!!

At school we did have cookery lessons, I remember making peanut butter cookies, chocolate brownies, and marzipan fruits and peppermint creams, well they were the things we cooked or baked in my early school years.  In the seniors we had regular cookery lessons, from boiling an egg  (which was the only A I got at school which members of my family still think is hilarious) to Christmas cake.  But I never really attempted to bake/cook from scratch on my own.

You may be wondering what equipment sight impaired people use when cooking or baking, so much of cooking is about not just what you see it’s the use of your other senses, the smell or the feel of what your doing, so you can feel with your spoon if something is melting, sight does help, hearing for bubbles in a pan and tasting the level of salt in a sauce.   I use talking scales to measure out ingredients, I use videos to check my methods sometimes.  you can also get talking measuring jugs, talking microwaves and braille timers.  Although I do think sight helps that I have to admit.  I find that I’m much slower as I’m forever trying to locate the spatula or the cornflour.  I have to re read recipes too in case I miss anything out.

Since starting my new hobby I have baked shortbread, both ordinary and millionaires shortbread, although that was with a friend and her daughter.  Banana bread a wholemeal variety, and flapjacks made with Demerara sugar.   My first attempt at flapjacks was a disaster owing to leaving in the oven which although I turned off forgot that when you leave something in the oven even though it’s turned off it’s still cooking so hence burnt flapjack, I was pretty upset about it as I thought it should be really simple.  Still the second attempt today has worked out much better, and only one burnt corner.  I’ve baked flapjacks and shortbread for an outing tomorrow.

In future I want to try my hand at chocolate brownies, peanut butter cookies, cheesecake, a different version of banana bread, and after that I don’t know yet, perhaps some pie or other.

I’m surprised how much I’ve enjoyed baking, it’s something I can do on my own and I’ve found that baking is quite therapeutic, I had a week where I was rather bored or sad I can’t remember which so I baked which seemed to make a difference, the sheer concentration involved means you can’t think about anything else.

I feel rather tired now after baking for other people, so I think now it’s time to get something to eat for myself, and that I think will probably be a chippy!!

Why do I miss Childrens tv programmes from my childhood?

morphA couple of weeks ago a friend of mine posted a picture of morph on their  fb timeline (image of morph on the left) from my childhood kids TV.   It always makes me nostalgic when I see various characters from that period of my life, such programmes as Rainbow, Take Hart (where morph originated from)  and Willo the Wisp.  There were other great children’s programmes, but those I’ve mentioned are the ones that stand out to me.  Why do I feel such nostalgia for these programmes?  Is it that I want to be a child again, is it just the memories associated with those programmes or is it something else?

Having thought about it I realized why I hankered after such programmes well  for me it has more to do with the characters in those programmes. Rainbow the first one I mentioned had very distinct characters, there was George the hippo who was shy and gentle and often tormented by  Zippy the blue eyed puppet who was always getting up to mischief and getting into trouble for it and for being naughty Bungle the teddy bear would tell him off and zip him up so he couldn’t speak and cause more trouble.   I loved that programme.  Then there was morph who was a red plastercine figure who would live in a box who was always on an adventure and was always getting into scrapes,  that’s what I can remember anyway, then there was Willo the Wisp who lived in a little valley, with the distinct voice of Kenneth Williams, and a character called Mavis who would tell Willo off.

But it’s a specific type of character I loved the most as a child, for instance watching Rainbow I loved George because he got picked on by Zippy and he got his comeuppance but as an adult I love zippy because he was just plain naughty and cheeky, and like morph who also got up to to mischief and Willo , it’s those characters who stand out to me.

The truth is  it’s really because I don’t see enough of that type of personality in real life.  I mean where are the cheeky, mischievous, naughty individuals now.  Don’t get me wrong I have met a few of those type of people, but they stand out to me because they are rare.  I’m missing those type of people in my life who provided fun, entertainment and huge amusement to me.   Yes I have friends who I laugh with but hardly any who know how to be mischievous.  How to sail close to the edge of boundaries you know it they know it but they do it anyway because they know they can get away with it because of the way they do it and they know how to do it,  like the friend I knew who told me a joke she said oh I promise it won’t be rude, told me the joke and she managed to tell the joke with the F word in without spelling it out, oh she knew exactly what she was doing, and  what nerve she had, and I was able to laugh, because really she was clever, she knew just how far to go without offending me, but knew she was pushing it, my response would be Oh Gertrude, not her real name .  To pull that sort of thing off you really have to be clever, intuitive  and a way with words  and the ability to be creative, it truly is an art.

The trouble with some of these mischief makers  as in the adult variety, is that some have a different side to them a rather unpleasant side, often quick tempered  or volatile and some are pretty ruthless, the ones I’ve met anyway.  That doesn’t mean I stop interacting with them I’m just aware of that rather nasty side that sneaks out every now and again, but like I’ve said there are few of them about, well certainly is in my world anyway.    So what shall I do with the lack of mischief in my life, create my own? Well I suppose I do sometimes, I do have a cheeky streak myself, but it tends to manifest more around like minded, down to earth people.  No again their aren’t enough of those folk about.  So whilst I wait for more of those folk to enter my life or me to enter theirs.  For now I’ll just to have to make do with some old youtube videos of Zippy, Morph and Co.  Until the next time 🙂

Birthdays

Recently I had my birthday, at the age of 44 I I’ve had rather a few, some memorable some not so memorable and a few I can’t remember (all for good reasons).

My first memory of a birthday was when I reached the tender age of 5, I remember waking up to the radio and knowing I was 5, I also remember my mum giving me a cuddly toy called Miss Mouse,  that much loved gift is still in my possession  all be it a little worn but still cherished.

One of the problems with having a birthday in September is the fact for me as a child was not exactly brilliant, I started boarding school at the age of six and subsequent birthdays had the dark cloud of school hovering over the proceedings which left me with a kind of birthday blues feeling which has never really gone away.

I know that I’m not the only human who doesn’t have much affection for birthdays.  I have had some good birthdays but most of them have generally been pretty ordinary, I didn’t have a ton of birthday parties like lots of children seem to have, actually when I attended school, other children were having their birthdays round the same time when I was asked for one I was told that if I wanted one my parents would have to pay, which was very hurtful.  It felt to me at the time although I couldn’t have put it in to words unjust, and as an adult I see it as making that child feel that they were undeserving some how.  One of the reasons I didn’t have a ton of birthday parties was down to the fact because I was away at school all the times I didn’t really get the chance to make friends, So it would be the small family that we had with a small celebration of sorts and at the most maybe a visit from my nan and yes the dark cloud of school hovering over.

When thinking about birthdays apart from the boarding school thing as a child why don’t I like birthdays?  The thing is I’m usually quite relieved when my birthday is over. Leading up to it I can feel blue at times but afterwards I feel a genuine sense of relief .

I’ve had the odd good birthdays in the past, one of which was my 19th birthday, I was away at college and we had to start early so I was there for my birthday.  I went to the student union bar to chat to people, it somehow got slipped out that it was my birthday and a group of people spontaneously sang me happy birthday, it wasn’t just a lovely birthday it was the best start of one of the happiest years of my life.  I think the other one was seeing some of my relatives in Europe and I’d had a cake made I think and had some lovely gifts from my relatives including a couple of knitted cardigans.

I think one of the reasons I don’t like birthdays is that I’m not overly keen on the limelight, when someone rather overtly at work made a big deal about my birthday I didn’t like it that much, I suppose I’m so used to quiet birthdays.  I think also sometimes I’ve been disappointed sometimes that things I’ve wanted to happen haven’t happened, or things have gone wrong.  I remember inviting a group of people for a little party at my home  in the event only one person turned up, I’ve had birthdays when things may have started off well then things go wrong, other times where something bad has happened to start off the day which overshadowed the rest of the proceedings.  Either way it’s not great.

So how do I deal with the birthday blues, I remind myself that it’s only one day a year, it will pass.  How I feel about birthdays is not much different to how I feel about Christmas, but like so many people I’m not alone, there are others like me.  The thing is I don’t want people to worry about making my birthday “special” or feeling they haven’t done enough or whatever, even I can’t even identify what could change my point of view, I’m always grateful for well wishes, gifts and visits.  It’s always tricky when people wish me a happy birthday when I’ve had a pretty lousy one too lol.  As much as I don’t have much love for birthdays, I like to as far as possible to make other people feel valued on their birthday, or send good wishes to people, if I remember 🙂

Maybe I have expectations of my birthday that never materialise, it’s like a fantasy that when it comes true is never lives up to what  you thought it would be, I think I have that same concept with my birthday, I’ve tried at varying times to improve my dislike of birthdays to no avail, I’ve tried organising something I might enjoy, or had a quiet day on my own, all kinds of things, but it rarely comes good.

Ultimately the best thing I can do is appreciate that there are people who do wish me to have a great birthday whatever the outcome, to know its just one day a year, I’m not the only one who feels that way, but I will feel great the following day 🙂

Apologies if my blog is more of a waffle and a little repetitive its just my thoughts pouring out today, thanks for reading, and if its your birthday reading this a very happy birthday too you!