Although some introverts are calm, or appear calm almost all the time, I’m not that type. When I’m under pressure to think and get something important done, I’m calm and analytical, unless there are humans talking to me while I’m trying to think. Actually, I’d always thought I was the type to get “stressed out” anytime the pressure got high, but I finally found out I don’t get like that if there’s no chance someone is going to come and talk to me.
One Saturday morning about ten years ago, I was supposed to build a new file server for the company I worked for, and I had never done it before. I knew the steps I needed to do, and in fact I was using several different computers to work on the new server. A few of them were copying data from old servers to the new one, and one more computer was a place for me to configure the new server. As I went from machine to machine to make sure things were going OK and to perform the little tweaks that were needed in the configuration, I realized: I have a lot of things going on at once, important things, and I need to remember what I’m doing and where I am with each. Usually I would be feeling a bit of stress, if this was a weekday. What’s the difference? No one is going to come and interrupt me and make me lose my train of thought!
I can tolerate some chitchat when I’m doing something I’m very familiar with, but if I’m in unfamiliar territory or if something is going wrong, I find it very stressful if I can’t find a way to be alone with what I’m doing. Over the years of course I have had many times when I needed to do something that was needed quickly and would take some thinking. Sometimes that would be due to an excitable executive asking for a report for a meeting he’d be going into that same morning. Other times it would be a server that had lots of critical users attached to it – and I needed to figure out what was going wrong with it. Any time I get a problem like that I first feel a bit of excitement, as if I can’t wait to get my teeth into it, then a flash of stress, almost expecting someone to come by and interrupt me and totally shatter the thought I was trying to have. If there’s time, if whatever it is isn’t due for a few days, I will sometimes take it home with me. Better to spend some of my evening or Saturday doing something for the office than to have the torture of someone talking to me and yanking me out of my thoughts.
There’s one more time I seem to need silence in order to think and do something, and that’s when traffic situations get intense. When I’m in a traffic snarl, whether it’s a tough turn I’m trying to make or a jammed parking lot I’m trying to navigate, I always quickly turn the volume all the way off the car stereo without even thinking about it. (Funny, I’ve mentioned this to two other introvert friends and they both say they do this too)! I’ll actually be driving along later and realize I’ve missed a couple of songs on a CD because I must’ve turned the radio off at that bad intersection back there and didn’t even consciously realize it.
My brain seems to get so overstimulated when there’s something intense for it to do that someone talking will send it right into a short circuit 🙂 where I can’t think at all. Obviously not all introverts are that way. Surgeons manage to salvage life and death situations while talking and being talked to, even when things go wrong. But I know my brain, so I know to shut the world out when I need to put it on the “High” setting for a while.
Photo credit: Pixel Addict