Monday, September 14, 2009

Shrinking Spaces

Photo credit: the aether eater
This posting serves as a public warning of a growing hazard to introverts everywhere— the explosion of audible greeting cards. The card industry, once both domain and sanctuary of introverts has been seized by a band of rowdy marketing extroverts that take great delight in getting in your space when you least expect it. Opening a musical greeting card is the equivalent of coming upon a surprise party in your home with guests jumping out screaming from behind your couch. Musical greeting cards are loud, intrusive and possess the sound quality of a garage sale boom box.

Even more hair-raising than being the unsuspecting recipient of such a card is the encroachment of noise in the greeting card store or aisle. No longer a quiet, reflective time to find just the right sentiment for your intended, it has become a circus-like event while toddlers, teens and befuddled Gen B (boomers) set loose an audio mayhem of disco, pop and hip hop. During a recent shopping trip with my dear mum, who is still looking for "the nice $1.75 cards” managed to inadvertently crack open nearly every loaded card in stock. I couldn’t decide which of us should have to take a time-out.

Five years ago I wouldn't have publicly admitted this, attributing it all a rather freakish and abnormal Sensitivity to Life. Now I understand what this is about-- it’s me being an introvert. It’s me needing to control the volume and parameters of my space. Not because I’m a cranky old beast. I’m actually what Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D calls Socially Accessible Introvert in her book, Introvert Power. I like people! I’m madly curious about them and their lives. And, I’ll happily stay that way as long as I get the acreage alone I need to fuel up.

I was raised in a big herd, and I didn’t have a space of my own until I was a teen. I became a expert tent builder as a kid. In the absence of supplies, or if pressed for time, I would climb into the tiny crawl space in the garage behind the chimney. I thought I’d come upon Paradise Lost when I found some abandoned cars behind an old warehouse. It was a great place to read and daydream. (And consume massive quantities of candy—extreme bliss.)

It’s critical we recognize that introverts are territorial. We need space. Protected space. Inviolate space. Some of us are able to maintain that simply as interior space. I’m quite visual and I want to see mine-- my desk, my chair, my cup of favorite pens, highlighters and Sharpies. I was reminded of this once again as I recently reread David Keirsey’s groundbreaking book Please Understand Me. Space is such an important issue about which to educate your family. It’s not you being selfish. It’s simply doing what you need to survive in cohabitivity.

The more deeply you *get* your unique style and nuances, the more successful you'll be in the world promoting your work. You'll recognize your simple truth that people tire you, and you'll need to plan and pace your promotional efforts. You'll find the places of intersection in the world that excite you, and jump in with both feet. You'll approach with caution those activities that lead to de-energizing. If you know that you're going to be in an overwhelming promotional situation for an extended period of time, you'll have your SVP First Aid Kit and defibrillator standing by. The good news is that while people/noise/space infringements may knock us flat, after a period of regathering, violets always rise.

Raffle! Raffle! We've got a raffle! If you'd like to win a copy of one of the fabulous books mentioned in this post, all you need to do is be one of our SVP followers. If you haven't signed on yet, you can do so in the right sidebar. Our followers are always automatically entered! If you'd like to be in the raffle but your system won't allow you to join, leave a comment with this post, or send me an email by clicking I'd like a chance to win!

May all your spaces be sacred, deep and wide--

Mary Hershey


Jen Robinson said...

I liked Introvert Power a lot. I think it really helped me (as does your blog, of course). Thanks for this reminder. We're actually looking at houses, and even though I usually work in the kitchen, and don't technically need an office, I explained to my extroverted S.O. yesterday that I still need a "back-up office" to which to retreat when we, say, have houseguests. I'm guessing that makes perfect sense to you.

MG Higgins said...

I have, and will always need, a room of my own. Thank you for reminding me that that's not selfish--it's necessary for my introverted well being.

tanita davis said...

Even ecards are kind of a bit much but at least you can automatically control the volume! The card aisle is kind of a scary place now.

laurasalas said...

Too funny because my extrovert daughter came home all excited about a talking Hoops & Yoyo card a friend gave her yesterday.

Growing up as one of 4 sisters with 3 bedrooms to share, I lived for months at a time (by my choice) in a small attic. Not a finished attic with cozy dormers and furniture. A dark attic with scratchy insulation, no electricity, and a sleeping bag.

Feywriter said...

I was the middle child of nine. It was a long time until I got my own room. When I needed peace and quiet NOW, I had a secret place between the shed and the fence in our backyard. No one ever found me there.

Thanks for this post. Now I understand why playing my music loudly is different than listening to someone else's loud music. Control over my space.

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Jen! Glad you liked Introvert Power. Publisher's Weeekly did, too, and gave it a starred review. I'll try to catch up with Dr. Hegloe and get an interview for SVP. And, yeah, "back-up office" makes perfect sense to me.

MG, you and I are deleting "selfish" from all our space dreams.

Tanita! You're so right-- I'd forgotten about those. I most always open my e-cards with sound OFF. :]

Laura-- be it ever so humble, there's no place like space!

Hi, Feywriter-- Someone has a very wicked sense of humor to put an introvert in a family of nine! Glad you found some shelter. :-]

Thanks for all y'all shared here.

Live from Texas,
Mary o|:-]

writerjenn said...

When my husband and I first joined households, I had two stipulations for the house we would buy together:
1) accessible to public transit
2) a writing room of my own.

I couldn't care less about the house's color, number of bathrooms, presence or lack of central A/C. I knew what I needed!

Sabrina said...

Come to think of it, I never check out the talking/singing cards when I'm shopping by myself. I may splurge and buy these cards with wonderful detailed (fantasy) images, blank inside, but Hoops & Yoyo (which I do find funny, most of the time) I don't touch until I'm wandering the aisles with my older sister.

I completely agree about the space issue. I spent most of my life sharing a room. Now I have my own space, but others' noises still intrude through the too-thin walls. Not fun. And it makes me wonder how some people can stand, despite the people-watching opportunity, to write at a Starbucks.

J.L. Powers said...

Glad I found you guys!

Kimberly Lynn said...

Great post, Mary!

sharigreen said...

"May all your spaces be sacred, deep and wide" -- what a lovely, perfect blessing. Thanks, Mary!

Mary Hershey said...

Hi, Jennifer-- space and public transit... too funny!

Sabrina, I'm with you on the writing in public. Wish I could, but I know I would be totally derailed by it.

J.L., we're glad to have been found!

Kimberly, Shari, always so good to hear from old friends. :-)


Scotti Cohn said...

Introvert Power sounds like a great book. I have the ability to "turn on" a "public persona" (if you will) when necessary and have been doing this my whole life. However, being with a large group of people for any length of time saps my energy. I don't like to call attention to myself, which is pretty much the kiss of death for any promotional effort.

Thanks for writing this blog. I'll be following you (but not too closely... LOL)!