The Science Behind the Trials of Introversion

I recently found this website called Introvert, Dear, and they posted this blog post today that helped me understand my brain so much. At risk of “stealing” their audience, please don’t just read the quoted portion here, but also click on the link and visit their site, even for a little while. Thanks!!

A co-worker appears out of the blue and asks me a question. Her eyes and tone of voice say she wants an answer now. Her request is easy, but my mind is momentarily paralyzed.

I start sentences then stop them. I hesitate. I say words that are close to what I mean, but not exactly. I backtrack.

My co-worker — an extrovert who always seems to express herself effortlessly — looks at me like, come on, spit it out. I think, if only my brain would cooperate.

Why introverts struggle with word retrieval

When we’re speaking out loud, we introverts may have trouble with word retrieval, meaning, we struggle to find just the right words we want. We may come off sounding like we don’t know what we’re talking about, even though we do. In social situations, we may have trouble keeping up with fast-talking extroverts.

Our brains use many different areas for speaking and writing, writes Dr. Marti Olsen Laney in her book, The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, and when talking out loud, information needs to flow between the separate regions. One reason why introverts struggle with speaking is that we process information deeply, which means information moves slowly between areas of our brain.

Another reason has to do with introverts relying more on long-term memory than working memory. Information stored in long-term memory is mostly outside of our conscious awareness. Like the name sounds, long-term memory contains information that is retained for long periods of time — in theory, information is saved indefinitely. Some of this information is fairly easy to access, while other memories are more difficult to recall. Contrast this with working memory (sometimes referred to as short-term or active memory), which is limited and retains information for mere seconds.

Again, like the name sounds, it takes longer to reach into long-term memory and pull out just the right word or piece of information. The right key or association is needed, which is something that reminds us of what we’re trying to recall. This, of course, slows down us introverts when we’re speaking.

If we’re anxious — which is how I felt when my intimidating co-worker approached me — it may be even more difficult to locate and articulate the right words.

Why it’s easier to express ourselves in writing

Introverts “often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation,” writes Susan Cain in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Introverts may prefer text messages and emails to phone calls. Many of us keep journals or compose lyrics, poems, or stories, and some of us make careers out of writing.

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The reason for this preference once again has to do with how our brains are wired: written words use different pathways in the brain, which seem to flow fluently for many introverts, writes Laney.

What to do when your mind goes blank

Memory is complex, and it uses many different areas of the brain. Our brains store memories in several locations and create links between them, called associations.

To yank something out of long-term memory, we need to locate an association. The good thing is, most pieces of information in long-term memory were stored with several associations or keys for unlocking them.

“If we find just one key, we can retrieve the whole memory,” writes Laney.

When you struggle to remember a word, a piece of information, or even what you did over the weekend (because that question often comes up in small talk!), try these things:

Be still and relax.
Give yourself permission to be quiet for a few moments. Don’t let the other person rush you.
Buy yourself time to process things by saying something like, “Let me think about that,” or “Hmm, let me see…” Or, give a nonverbal signal that shows you’re thinking, like looking away and furrowing your brow slightly.
Let your mind wander for a moment and go where it wants. One thought may lead to another, and one of those thoughts may hold the “key” to unlocking the words you want from your long-term memory.
If all else fails, and words escape you, don’t feel embarrassed — your brain is doing what comes naturally to it, and that is to pause and reflect. If you’re being quiet, you’re in good company with other deep-thinking introverts: Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.”

Then, try breezing over any awkwardness in the conversation by using humor to make light of your tongue-tied state, or say you’re a little distracted right now, and you’ll get back to the other person later — by sending an email or text.

When an introvert is quiet, don’t assume he is depressed, snobbish or socially deficient. Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength
Image credit: Deviant Art (Ezgi Polat)

VISIT THE SOURCE POST HERE!

Disclaimer: I have not read ALL their posts, nor have I read ANY of the books they recommend. Please don’t take this post as an endorsement of the books or of the content on their site, but merely an appreciation of this particular post. Thanks!!

Dance Gypsies

If you saw the previous post, and the POV video from the rollercoaster I rode on Saturday, consider this post “Part Two”!

After leaving Carowinds, we went to a dance hall in Charlotte, for some Contra dance! Contra is a very easy to learn, fun to practice dance– no footwork, just memorizing some terms and listening to the caller. It’s such a fun way to get out of your comfort zone. It makes me feel like I’m in the Pride & Prejudice days. ^_^ This time, there was a guy there who talked to me while we danced, gave me some pointers on how to improve my dancing, taught me a few new moves, and also gave me this bit of advice: “Dear, if a man tries to spin you, but is to lazy to lift his arm high enough that you don’t have to duck, he shouldn’t be spinning you!” Which really amused me. He was an excellent lead. Really understood how to make the lady feel guided and protected throughout the dance. Contra has a LOT of spinning, if your lead isn’t careful, he can literally spin you into a wall, another person, or trip you if he’s not leading well. It’s his job to guide you through the moves and use caution to avoid spinning you off into oblivion! Trust me, it’s happened.

Likewise, I reached a whole new level in my following. It’s taken me such a long time to learn how to relax and follow the leads direction, go where he sends me, stay loose and easy to guide. Yet, be aware of where I’m supposed to be, so that if he does have a moment when he forgets where to send me, I can give him a gentle push in the right direction. Sometimes that means literally grabbing his hand and bringing him with you to the next move, which really doesn’t come naturally to me at all. Maybe being tired and physically exhausted from a long day riding rollercoasters helped me be more relaxed in it all. Whatever the cause, that night was one of the best nights contra dancing I’ve ever had.

No obligation to watch this whole video, but at least watch the first four minutes. This is the actual dance hall I was at! 🙂

Legacy of Bliss

After church on Sunday, my dad and I went to lunch with a lovely couple that we’ve known for quite a while. True, honest, real friends. Their last name is Bliss, and it’s the perfect name, they exude a joy and playfulness far beyond what you get from most married couples in their late 60’s.

Mrs. Bliss is a fantastic painter, her art fills me with awe whenever I get to see it. Stunningly beautiful portraits and scenes that look like memories stretched out on a canvas. And every bit of beauty from those paintings shines in her eyes and her youthful smile. She’s a classy, amazing, gorgeous lady. One of few people I truly admire and look up to. Though I’ve never told her this, and haven’t gotten to spend much time around her.

After we had lunch, she and I were talking, and she looked at me straight in the eye and said to me, “Now, I’m not just saying this, I really mean it! You know, I’ve known you for a while, and I’ve seen you growing up, and I have to say, you have just gotten more and more beautiful as you grow older. I mean it! You’ve matured into a beautiful woman, inside and out, and I’m just amazed by you.” And she did mean it, I could see it in her eyes that she meant every word with complete sincerity and honestly was amazed by me. 

I’m… really at a loss for words. I feel completely unworthy of that level of compliment, I’m humbled by it. I pray that I may be the kind of woman who will someday speak that level of loving encouragement into the life of younger women around me.

A Taste Of Adventure

So I’ve been back from Oklahoma for a few days now, been back to work, back in my own bed, back to the daily grind. (Does no one else think of coffee when you hear that phrase? It makes me want coffee…)

My second day back was kinda crazy, my mom came into my room and woke me up with the words “Moriah, I need your help, there’s blood all over the kitchen floor.” As it turned out, my rambunctious and prey driven dog Camo, an Akita/Labrador cross, took off so hard that he ripped open his claw horizontally, all the way into the toe. Looked like a crime scene. I took him to the vet who sedated him, cut off the dangling portion of claw, cleaned it with a saline wash and squirted superglue into the open part of the claw to prevent bleeding. After a day of being high on drugs, he was still whimpering from pain and his toe very swollen, so the vet gave him three pills to take daily, a pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory and an antibiotic. Now he seems much more comfortable and much happier, though still limping some. Silly pup.

My trip was great! Getting to travel alone was very confidence boosting. Nice to know that I can as a matter of fact, make it on my own. Be independent. The wedding was great, I met lots of interesting, fun people, and I had a lot of spontaneous fun, both solo and with my cousins friends. I swam in a saltwater pool every day at the hotel, went to a free concert downtown with a group of people, walked to little cafe’s and diners alone downtown several times, and experienced the fear/rush of having to find my departure gate in the Atlanta airport. Which ended up being a long walk, train ride, and two escalators away from my arrival gate. It was such a liberating time. I actually felt like an adult, not in the “back to work to earn money because I’m an adult” way that I normally do, but in the “I can make decisions for myself and find my own way without help because I’m an adult” way. Normally, because I live with my parents, if I get invited to something or want to go somewhere, I have to ask them first and can’t really be “spontaneous”. But while I was there, no one was really “responsible” for me, my grandparents sort of were, but not to the same degree as my parents would be. So when I was invited somewhere or decided I wanted to walk to a cafe and get lunch, I just went. Maybe told them I was leaving before I went, but didn’t “ask permission” to go. It was awesome. It made me wish I could afford a small apartment of my own nearby, so I could have that sort of freedom at home. But, sadly, a part time Pet Care Associate at Petsmart does not make enough to pay rent or water or electric bills. Unless you want to go without food. Then it might be possible!

The month after next I’ll be turning 21. If you follow my blog and read it much I’m sure you’ll correctly assume that they’ll be no “partying” or getting drunk for my 21st, but there WILL be alcohol. Not much, just some. There’s an apple ale that I’ve wanted to try for a long time, so I’m thinking of buying just one bottle (beer bottle sized bottle) of it to try. It’ll probably be nasty, but that’s okay. If I’ve never made it clear before, I don’t have an issue with drinking, I have an issue with getting drunk. So, if you can’t have just one glass of wine or just one beer, don’t drink. If that’s not a temptation for you, by all means, enjoy your one glass. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and probably should not drink, so if that’s you, don’t. Some people have alcoholism in their family history and thus wish to avoid it altogether, and I highly respect and honor that decision, and if it bothers them to have others drink around them, I would definitely never drink while with them. If I married a man who felt that way, it would be my pleasure to honor him by never drinking again. But, as that is not the case for my birthday, I’m going to have my one small drink. Funny enough, I love margaritas, but only when there isn’t any tequila in them. I like just the crushed ice and the fruit flavored mix, so it’s like a slushy. Tequila is so sharp, it ruins it completely. Which amused my father when he made me an alcohol-free margarita a while back. ^_^ I think they call that a “virgin” margarita, but I have an issue with using the word virgin to describe anything other than what the bible uses it for. Just a personal preference, I like to keep certain important words holy.

I think that’s one of the ways our culture has degraded itself, using meaningful words flippantly so many times that they no longer have weight when used. Much like the word “awesome”, which should mean “inspires awe”, but we use it to describe everything. I’m guilty of this too, but after trying for like a month to stop using it, I never managed to prevent it from slipping out. So I gave up. 😛 I don’t think God minds, or at least he hasn’t seen fit to press upon me the need to change that verbal habit. And he does with other things regularly. Such as “suck”, as in “that sucks” which I feel very convicted about not using, “screwed up”, “pissed off” or using “god” as an expression of anything other than speaking about God himself. Though the first three of those are not “bad words” per se, I feel that the use of them is tacky, degrading, and does not conform to any of the biblical standards of what our speech should be as holy children of God. And the bible makes it extremely clear that God’s name is holy and not to be misused, so it’s important to me to honor that.

For those of my non-Christian followers who look at Christianity as a list of do’s and don’ts, I hope you realize that I don’t put these parameters on myself because I think God won’t love me if I don’t or because I think it’s what I have to do, I do it because God died for me so I can have eternal life, and I want to honor him in anyway I possibly can. I do it because I want to. Because by doing it, I set a better example of the purity of Christ, so others will be less distracted by me and more attracted to Him. My personality, my appearance, are works of art that he created, drawing some attention to myself in the right way is fine, but distracting people with crass speech or unkind words is not. Or immodest clothing, actually. Immodest clothes distract the minds of both men and women and takes their thoughts off of what is pure and right and tempts them into either lustful thoughts or criticizing thoughts, whereas attractive, modest clothing causes appreciation of the excellent design and beauty God created. Which I think it pretty awesome.

Anyway, I’m kind of wasting my day off by sitting on the couch in gym cloths. I will actually go to the gym…. Eventually…

The Joy Of Discovery

I live in the capitol city of a smallish southern state, though it doesn’t feel like it. Our airport is tiny, our city is large, but it doesn’t feel that way at all, the only attraction here is our Zoo, and a few historical sites, as far as I know (and I’ve lived here since I was about four years old). That being said, we’re still a capitol city, so I would think–and perhaps I’m wrong–that we set a good deal of the trends for the rest of the state.  Especially economically.

Last year around this time, there were three secular book stores and two Christian book stores in our area within decent driving distance (25 mins away at the most). This year there is one used book store (no new releases, just re-homed titles and dvds), the two Christian stores, and one secular bookstore that’s the farthest one away. There are others but they are 30-40 minutes away with no traffic–and there usually is traffic.

Very few agree with me on this, but my strong opinion is that the swift decline of book stores is caused by the oncoming storm of ebooks, e-readers, iPads, and other electronic devices that are being used to read “books”. Now to me, a book is a paper object with pages you have to turn by hand, it smells unique, feels fantastic, even has a marvelous sound when you flip from one chapter to the next, a sound filled with mystery and intrigue. There is something magical about going to a book store just to explore and finding a new adventure you didn’t expect.

The college I was taking classes at recently built a newfangled automatic book retrieving library. You go to a computer, look up the topic you want, and can request the title you want. Then a robotic system goes down to the isle, pulls your book, and drops it back to you. Now when I’m in a library, it’s the size, color, title, texture, age, and quality of the book that attracts me and makes me slide it off it’s dusty shelf and crack the cover. I’m drawn to older, worn out, slightly tattered books. Well loved books. Books that traveled far. After building this hi-tech library, they were shocked how rarely it was used. And I think this is why. Millions of dollars on all this tech and the students hangout and the coffee shop in the lobby and don’t venture into the library part much. I think many people, if mostly subconsciously, feel the same way about book discovery as I do. People may read more with their ebooks and iPads, but they miss out on the discovery of that book they never would have thought to pick up until it showed it’s spine right there before them on the shelf.

Eventually, there will be almost no books being printed, just released in electronic media. This is a scary thing. When it’s not down on paper, it can be much more easily tampered with, altered, redefined and mangled. All it takes is one person with ill intent being put in charge of a process of epublishing, and you risk having your work changed, stolen, or distorted. History is already being altered with paper books, but imagine the total destruction that can be done when all that’s needed is a few clicks and an “Apply to all copies” feature? You get a pop up on your iPad: “iBooks has a software update, install now?” and with one click your history book has been changed.

Now, I’m not against technology. I have my iPod touch, my Macbook, and I greatly enjoy them both. But power corrupts. And when you give already corrupt people the power of the written word, you spread that corruption. A deadly virus in the veins of humanity.

I don’t own any ebooks or ereaders, I do own one online copy of a book that was never released in hard copy, but that’s it. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s one too many. I greatly miss my bookstores, and I pray my library will not be too heavily effected…

Nails!!

So, one of my managers at Petsmart has a little side business thing, she is a consultant for Jamberry Nail Wraps, which I’ve tried and really like! Feel free to check her out on Facebook Here and visit her website Here. If you decide to order, and it asks you “Is Sarah *insert weird last name* your consultant?” Click yes. She gets commission that way, and I like her, she deserves commission. She is a cool lady. 🙂

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What Are We Doing?

See why we have an absolutely ridiculous standard of beauty in just 37 seconds.

Warning: This video shows a topless woman, you side the side of her breast slightly. Men, if you think that will cause you to stumble, please don’t risk temptation. 🙂 

Watching this makes me sad. Because I too have looked at these oddly perfect pictures and thought “I wish I looked like that”. But the truth is, no one does. It’s a lie that has been so deeply embedded in the hearts of men and women in this culture, it’s making us seek out something we cannot and should not desire.