Not All Introverts Are Quiet

At a party, you will find me being gregarious and able to easily engage in conversation with others. At a conference, I have little problem discussing the points of the speaker or opening a dialog in the hallways with fellow attendees. When I was a student in class, I never had an issue with raising my hand and asserting my view when called upon. I even engage store clerks with friendly trivial banter about the quality of the day. “Quiet” is not the first word that would come to mind to describe me — even by those who know me well or have known me for a long time.

What they often don’t see at the party is that I have specifically chosen one or two people I know and singled them out. I engage them in a deep discussion so that I can focus only on them and try my hardest to tune out the rest of the surroundings. They probably don’t notice that, even then, I find an empty room or a space outside in which to disappear for twenty minutes at a time. So I can sit there, alone, and recharge my internal batteries enough to go back to the party. They likely don’t know that by the end of the night I feel as though I’ve ran a race, in the rain, all up hill. Every nerve in my body feels taxed and my emotions wrung out to dry.

Those at the conference could not possibly know that it has taken me years to muster up the energy to attend. That if not for some very important topic or unmissable speaker I would never have come. That until I run into someone I know or meet someone I can engage with one-on-one, my overwhelming instinct is to find the nearest exit and run out of it as fast as I can. That it will be another few years before I can face another event like this. That I need to block off a full week following this one with as little human contact as possible so I can rest my spirit enough to engage with anyone outside of my immediate family.

When I was in high school, I often skipped less important or uninteresting classes because I could just not be in a single room with thirty other people for a moment longer. I would walk back home or go to a nearby park, recharge, grab a quiet bite to eat, or read a book. Only then would I walk back to school for my next class. If I had an English or History class, both of which I participated in and loved, you could almost guarantee I would sometimes opt-out of whatever class followed those. How do you explain to a school counselor that, ideally, you need one class period unscheduled following every one you have scheduled? That time alone in a room with a good book is as important to your education and well being as any class you could take during that time? You don’t. I didn’t. So, I skipped. Let’s just say it made no one very happy and my grades in no way reflected my ability or intelligence.

My introversion was even a surprise to me initially when personality tests called it out. In fact, my first time taking a Meyers-Briggs Personality Assessment, I questioned my MBTI score enough that I decided to take many more, at different times, to see if they would come out the same. They all did. I’m an INFJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Judging). Introversion in the MBTI does not always mean someone who can’t be social or behave in ways that the world would perceive as outgoing. In fact, many famous people and leaders would also fall in the Introversion spectrum. For instance, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela are all INFJs.

I’m friendly. I can assert my thought or opinion when asked (and many times when not). I like having good, meaningful, conversations with friends and strangers alike. I can get up in front of large audiences and speak without overwhelming anxiety. While if given the choice between going to a party or convention or staying home alone I will choose the latter, that does not mean I don’t generally find value in the former. I just know which one will give me energy and fuel my spirit and which interactions will deplete them. It is this difference, hidden to many, that defines my status as an Introvert.

Not all introverts are hidden in our extrovert biased world because we are quiet. In fact, some of us are hidden because we are not quiet. We are able to hide it or we have personalities that cause us to appear otherwise externally. So, when thinking of the word “quiet” in relation to introverts, think not about how we act in the world at large but, instead, how we need to react to it to survive.

On Beats 1 and Internet Radio (Some Suggestions)

I’ve been a fan of radio since I was a kid. My father, in fact, is an audio engineer and got his start engineering at various radio stations. Like many my age, radio was the only way to discover new music. Today, 95% of my listening to any media, news, or music is on the radio. I’m lucky enough to live in a market with several really great public and independent stations so it remains a great way for me to discover the new stuff.

But in that group of stations I listen to is also a number of Internet radio stations. I’ve been a fan of Internet radio since, well, I was introduced to it by Apple. You see, even in the earliest versions of iTunes, Apple included an impressive array of existing Internet radio stations one could listen to in iTunes. For many years now, when I fire up iTunes it is principally this list of stations I have turned to. I have long listened to radio in iTunes far more than my own music collection (crazy, I know).

This week marks the release of Apple’s new Music service and apps. Many like me are still trying to wrap our heads around what, exactly, Apple Music is but I think that is largely because it is trying to be so many things at once. But the one thing I got right away was their new Internet radio station, Beats 1. I’ve only been listening to Beats 1 for a couple of hours but it really is fantastic so far. Everything one would hope Apple would offer in a radio station of it’s own making — smart, well curated, globally focused.

So, now that so many are finding enjoyment in Internet radio and many are discovering the idea for the first time, here are just a few of the great stations I’ve listened to for years now:

  • KCRW Eclectic 24 — A streaming service of Los Angeles Public Radio, this is always incredibly well organized and curated collection of music that delivers on it’s name. It is heavy on new releases and I know that almost every time I listen I hear something I’ve never heard before but love and have to check out more of. I’ve discovered so many great artists through here alone that I’m sure I never would have heard before. It’s fantastic.

  • Radio David Byrne — This is more of a shared, looping, playlist. Sometimes put together by David and other times put together by his friends. There is usually a theme (May was African Pop, for instance) and the flair is towards the international and world music. But, it is always well done and lots of fun to listen to.

  • Soma FM — This is actually a collection of themed streams but all of them are great. My favorite of the bunch has long been Groove Salad, a melange of downtempo and chill electronica. It’s the one I like to put on when I’m just hanging out, having a dinner party, or just want to have some music playing in the background while I work. This is, I think, the first Internet radio station I ever listened to.

This does not even begin to scratch the surface of the wonderful Internet radios stations that are out there. There literally is something to fulfill every taste. If you are new to the idea of it and are enjoying Beats 1, I urge you to to check out the many others that have been out for a while.

Random Notes and Thoughts #5

Just a bit of detritus not yet fully baked or otherwise worthy of their own post for your enjoyment and consideration…

  • I’m writing this in Vim, the powerful terminal-based text editor all the true geeks have long loved and espoused the virtues of. I’m just learning it. It has long been on my list of things I wanted to learn for quite a while. It came up as I was reviewing my 3-5 year goals and I thought, “Why not now?”. To teach myself, I looked at several online tutorials but found that Learn Vim Progressively seemed the most suited to my learning style. Going slow so far but that is how the tutorial is designed — learning the basics and using only those for a few days/weeks before moving on to the next lesson.

  • For the truly geeky, the monospace font I’m using in Terminal is Inconsolata. Not sure I have settled on that as the right one for me but it is good enough for now.

  • Despite the many other issues some (understandably) may have with him, one thing I can appreciate about Richard Stallman is that when it comes to his computing habits and usage he is dogmatic about his dogma. I don’t know how one could not appreciate someone who so steadfastly walks what they talk, even if you don’t fully agree with the talk or think it is (perhaps, rightfully) nuts.

  • On the flip side of that, it recently occurred to me that the most important and valuable lessons my wife and I try to instill in our little girl are empathy and kindness. For instance, when meeting a stranger, she often picks out something she likes — a necklace or shirt for instance — and compliments them on it. She is one of those kids who goes out of her way to find something nice to say about everyone — even if she doesn’t like or agree with them. She also does her darndest to try to see a situation from how it might look from someone else’s perspective. She’s not always perfect at these but she works darn hard at it. It’s something we could all be better at for sure.

  • If I were to, say, build a swing for my little girl out of wood, the project is not done when the swing is done. The project is done when the tools are put away, the scrap wood picked up, and the sawdust is swept away. That is to say, clean up after the project is part of the project as well. If you have not picked up the mess of making then you have not finished. This applies to more than just building swings.

  • My friend and all around smart and talented guy (lucky too, I kind of hate him) Mike Rohde is bringing his wonderful Sketchnote Workshop to Chicago, IL on June 26th. I got to go to the very first one in Milwaukee last year and it was fantastic. It’s about way more than just how to make fun little drawings in your notes. It’s about how to be a better listener, a better thinker, capture key concepts, process them in ways that are meaningful, and take better notes in general. If you are in the Chi-town area at that time or close enough to drive you should really consider it.

  • Far too often, we confuse what is urgent with what is important. Most of what is urgent is not important. Most of what is important is ruined by urgency. When pressed by urgency, we rush through things. We become sloppy and careless. If it’s important, you should take your time and care. Most of the important things in my life took/take a long time. For example, I’ve been working on a short story off and on for about 20 years. If I can get it just right, I think it might end up being one of the most important things I’ll ever write, that’s why I’m taking such time with it.

  • I loved what Mandy Brown had to say about what consent has come to mean on the Internet versus what it means in the offline world, especially when it comes to privacy. Basically, it has become distorted online in ways that are meant to oppress and commodify us. This is a dangerous path.

  • A lot of people don’t know that Bill Gates is a voracious reader and often travels with several tote bags of books just to feed his habit. Therefore, when he gives you some summer reading list suggestions it’s probably worth paying attention to. And, if you really want to go deep and long, he also has a page on his website of his personal book reviews which are smart and full of wit and personality.

  • As someone who has killed a few projects recently (and am considering a few more), I can relate to and agree with Christine Xu’s assertion that our projects deserve a good death.

That’s all for now. This is more than enough to keep you busy. I should likely do these more often and perhaps not decide to publish them in the middle of everyone’s busy week. So sorry. Save it for the weekend or use it as an excuse to take the day off. I won’t mind.

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