Monday, November 12, 2007

What Introverts Need to Grow

I'm just back in from a week at Bike Camp, where I served as the Soigneur (swan-yay) to a dozen plus studley chick athletes. My mission was to keep them fueled/watered/happy, and drive the Snack Wagon behind them as they rode countless miles each day. It's a fascinating psychological study to bring that many adult women together, throw them into an intense and physically challenging situation, and then watch the E's emerge and the I's retreat.

Unfortunately, I was one of the BIGGEST I-verts that wanted to retreat. And, um, I was on duty.

After the first day, I was dying to take cover. Anywhere. In the dishwasher. Under the bed. In the trunk of my car. Any place where I could find five minutes alone. I felt as pathetic and pruny as ET with my heart light fading.

It would be so much easier if I were the kind of person that thrived in standing shoulder to shoulder with 2-15 women in a small kitchen while everyone talks at once, and 2-15 women need me to help them with something. All at the same time. For seven days. I love these women, too. Dang it is frustrating.

There are so many lessons in the natural world. If we didn't have any of the religious or philosophical works in print, all we would need to do is pay attention. I love the parable of the man that watched a cocoon in his garden day after day, seeing the movement of the new creature struggling inside to get out. When the man couldn't stand it anymore, he took a small exacto knife and made a tiny, neat slit in the cocoon, just to give to give it a little help out. And, in doing that, he interrupted the essential time the butterfly needed to kick its legs which reduces edema, so it can fly. He ended up crippling the butterfly.

(For those of you with particularly tender hearts, here is an alternate ending. So the man feels really terrible and hires a personal trainer for the butterfly, and gets those legs in fighting shape, and they all live flutterily ever after. :-)

There are a number of truths here, but the one I'm drawing is the reminder that not only do we need space to weave our cocoons, we need incubation time, uninterrupted time, and finally, struggle time. We need room to kick and flail, heave and push our way into our final form.

I dig being an introvert. I love all the stuff that comes with it, too. I'm reminded again this week that I need to review my owner's manual now and then. To extraverts, we may seem high-maintenance, moody, or delicate, or high-strung, or even wack-- it's none of those.

We're highly evolved self-sustaining creatures. Our work is complex. We need space and place to complete it.

We may look delicate. But delicate like the carbon fiber bikes I followed all week that weigh less than a box of Splenda and can go upwards of 50 mph on wheels the width of your pinky nail.

(I'm really jazzed that I got a bike analogy in here at the end. Wasn't sure I'd be able to pull it off. Feeling very sporty now.)

Do take especially good care of yourselves--


R.L. LaFevers said...

Welcome back, Mary! We all missed you and felt your pain. ;-}

And I so appreciate your reminder on how necessary the struggle is. That is very timely.

Anonymous said...

Great musings, Mary. Lots of vivid imagery, much-appreciated introvert validation -- and my fluttering favorite: personal trainers for butterflies. Cool and helpful. Thanks...

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, Robin and Karen!

Good to hear some friendly voices this week. Especially from people that don't need to be fed, watered, or hosed off--

Mary Hershey

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