Volume 2, Issue 8, 04/24/08
Going on Vacation
As you're reading this, I may be scuba diving. And I may not.
My sister and brother and I are on the island of Cozumel,
Mexico. My brother fell in love with scuba diving several years
ago and has become masterful at it.
For at least two years he's been trying to round up our extended
family to go off together and check out diving. So far it
hasn't worked. I think he decided to take the bull by the horns
and make something happen. In January he invited my sister and
me to go to Cozumel with him for a week in April – and we
I said yes to Cozumel but not necessarily to scuba diving.
Fifteen years ago I spent a week snorkeling not too far from
there and I loved it. But as a friend put it, identifying with
my ambivalence, being that far underwater would be "a stretch"
for her. A stretch is right!
Before I understood how introverts are put together, I probably
would have been squirming with this dilemma, and not very kindly
toward myself. Wanting to be a good sport, probably defending
my right to say no thanks, but secretly labeling myself a party
I'm still squirming, but with compassion.
It's not that introverts and scuba diving don't match. For all
I know, introverts are attracted in droves. After all, it's a
quiet activity, not done in crowds, no small talk involved :-).
But let's not forget these introvert bodies. In our brains we
have a higher blood flow to the frontal lobes, the area that
promotes thinking before acting. And our favorite
neurotransmitter (brain chemical) is acetylcholine, which has
the job of saying "let's think about it." (The acetylcholine
pathway is long and it's known to require overnight processing
to store and retrieve information.)
Plus, of the two sides of the autonomic nervous system, we
predominate on the parasympathetic, which is about slowing down
and relaxing. (Extroverts predominate on the other side, the
sympathetic, the action side.)
So introverts are designed with busy brains that like to think
and reflect about what we're experiencing. A couple weeks ago
an extrovert whose husband is an introvert said to me,
"Introverts – lots of depth there." Our nervous systems
accommodate our busy brains with a slower pace. Too much
stimulation too fast overwhelms the "operating system".
We need time to ease into new situations. We enjoy what's
familiar. We're fascinated with the world, but we relate to it
quite differently than extroverts. It's why we're known as the
quieter, more reflective ones, who tend to move at a slower pace.
As you read this, I'm more than halfway into my week in Mexico.
My busy brain and introvert body have their hands full: the
luxury of a whole week with my sister and brother. My rusty,
fledging Spanish in a world of Spanish speakers. Pesos.
Snorkeling. Tropical island life after a winter of snow banks.
(And sleeping in a strange bed!)
If I'm scuba diving, I'm glad I'm being watched over by an
expert who loves me, because if I meet a shark I'll probably
have to think about it.
End of food for thought – on to some practical ideas:
A Practical Idea for Introverts
Remember to love yourself up when you're in unfamiliar territory
(even a new restaurant.)
A Practical Idea for Extroverts
Compare notes with an introvert in your life about sleeping in
an unfamiliar bed.