The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Neither E=mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal.
– Winifred Gallagher
More on that quote in a minute. First, I have news. A lot of news.
A few weeks and a phone interview ago, I got an internship I applied for in January with MESA – Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture. Basically, the MESA Program brings farmers from various countries all over the world to the US and connects them with a host farm here, where they learn sustainable farming techniques to take back to their home country and spread the sustainable goodness. I’m pretty excited about it, because I feel like it will position me very uniquely within the world of sustainable food. I’ve focused on sustainability from the chef’s perspective, and now I’m off to look at it from the farmer’s. Plus, it’s got that international aspect that I have so desperately been looking for in the sustainable food world.
And, MESA is located in Berkeley, California. Yep, that’s right – I am moving to the birthplace of the American Local Food movement, mere steps away from the great Alice Waters and the hollowed grounds of Chez Panisse. Or, at least, a bus stop or two from there. I knew it was time to leave Boston, even if only for a few months, and finally an opportunity was in my hands (after many, many letdowns, I might add).
While I won’t be moving there until March, I have started to work for MESA as their Member Resources & Social Media Intern. I’m doing a lot (or at least, I hope I am!) for their Facebook & Twitter presence, and a few other email-centric tasks. All things I’m good at and comfortable doing – and, dare I say, enjoying it to boot! Six months of doing the same with Chefs Collaborative has made me somewhat of a social media maven, and I’m looking to make that more or less into a career at the moment.
Though my tenure with the Collaborative is (sadly!) drawing to a close, I’m still working there two days a week and working on a small project that I’m hoping will benefit future interns there as well. (I’d like to create a solid outline, like a system, for our social media endeavors so that future interns can learn the ropes a bit quicker! Basically, I’m using my OCD tendencies to benefit the next Communications intern and to really dig into the usefulness and many ways to use social media to its full extent…because I want to. More on this later, too.) Projects make me happy, and keep me focused on a single task, and they help me feel efficient and accomplished while helping someone else.
What does this mean? It means I’m on Facebook and Twitter for several hours every day, am constantly checking all 6 of my email inboxes, reading and searching for as many informative sources on sustainable food news as I can possibly find – and in the evening, I’m spending hours on Craigslist trying to find a roof that is 3,000 miles away to put over my head in about a month when I finally move out there. And a good portion of this is done in between letting the dog outside sixty times an hour and making sure she’s not eating plastic, toothpaste, or a pair of expensive shoes.
So what’s the deal with the quote? I recently bought this book:
This is a book that every introvert should own – and every extrovert should read.
I needed to introduce this topic before diving into a dedicated post because this book has made me realize that every action, every thought, every doubt, every thing in my life is somehow connected to the fact that I am an introvert.
All the stress in my life right now – a to-do list that never gets shorter, my four unpaid jobs, looking for interesting paid work in the Bay Area, trying to find housing, the prospect of moving across the country for 8 months – all of the stress I feel comes from how I, as an intense introvert, am perceiving it.
Actually, in an odd way, this book has been both a huge help and huge stressor – I am connecting to what Cain is saying on such an intensely deep level, it’s a little overwhelming in and of itself.
I’ve used the word intense a couple times, and for a reason – it’s really the only word I can find that properly describes my life and myself right now. I say myself because it has taken reading this book for me to see just how intensely introverted I am and the impact that part of my personality has had on my life.
This is a topic that is incredibly important to me, and something I am more passionate about than I perhaps realized. In fact, part of the reason it’s taken me so long to post is because I said on Facebook this book would be the topic of my next blog post and I felt that I needed to honor that, but as I have been reading and generating ideas to discuss, the things that the author is bringing to light are making me, among other feelings, downright angry. Anger is a good place to draw inspiration from, but not a place to write from, and I feel that I need to get past the anger to a more thoughtful perspective before getting an essay series down.
This is a long-winded explanation for why I haven’t posted in a few weeks, but it was the only way to do it! I actually have a format for a short series of upcoming posts on being introverted, which is actually a topic I have wanted to post on for several months. When the Barnes & Noble announcement for Quiet appeared in my inbox, I took it as a sign.
I hope you enjoy the series. I’m putting a lot of thought, heart and soul into them because this is a topic I wish more people would talk about.
To conclude, let me explain why I chose to connect the book with all the changes that are happening in my life right now.
Introverts, in general, do not handle overstimulation well. We’ll go to parties or class discussions and enjoy them just as much as anyone – but maybe we need to leave earlier, or go somewhere where we can be alone for a while afterwards. Introverts are not necessarily shy, either – we are just as capable of telling a few jokes or contributing to the discussion as the next person. What sets us apart is that while the extroverts in that classroom will walk out feeling energized and ready to take on the rest of the day, introverts will feel drained from all of that stimulation and need to go somewhere to recharge alone. This isn’t a bad thing – no matter what our extrovert-obsessed society may tell you – it’s just a different way of interacting with the world.
So all of what I am currently facing on a daily basis – the move, the work, and everything in between – all of those stimuli that I am attacking with fervor leaves me completely and utterly exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s just a lot. This is not to say that this wouldn’t be difficult for an extroverted person, either – moving is one of the most stressful things a human can do, regardless of personality. The difference here is the cause of my stress; the fact that I am tackling all of these things at the same time, with the same perfectionism that I bring to everything and most importantly, that every single one of these things requires me to deal directly with other people.
And that is where this post ends and the next will begin.