I recently read a book called, The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney, which explains what it means to be an introvert, and the advantages and disadvantages which come with that temperament. It's a fascinating book, and it can be helpful for anyone who is an introvert or deals with an introvert, because we see the world in a completely different fashion than extroverts, which can lead to a lot of tension. I've always known I was an introvert, but to see my entire life laid out in print was a little unnerving. Laney writes that there's a continuum of introversion to extroversion. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm about a 45.
There's a section in the book about introverts having tunnel vision. Critics say it means that we're not great observers. However, Laney argues that this focus is an automatic defense mechanism against being overstimulated (the great dread of all introverts.) I don't know if that's always been the case for me, but it's been a major issue for 4 1/2 years since my mom died. My brain is almost perpetually in "fight or flight" mode. It leaves me always feeling on guard, which results in me significantly narrowing my focus on a daily basis in order to not feel overwhelmed. It is a combination of introversion and some unresolved PTSD. (Being in the garden is the major exception to this, which is one of the reasons I live for gardening season.) While a good portion of it may simply be my inner nature, reading that blurb made me aware that perhaps I could still dial it back a bit.
I was walking around the Northern Estate over the weekend and thinking about how stuffy it still is in here, even with some of the windows open. I wandered into a room, and just stared at a window that always has the shade down. I stared so long, I probably would have looked to an outside observer like someone who has never seen a window before. Finally, I walked over, lifted up the shade, and sure enough, the storm window had a screen on top, so I put that down instead, and voila! More air! To be clear, I've looked at this window at least 3-5 times per week over the last 4 1/2 years, and never once have I thought to check for a screen. There's always been set group of windows that I open up for fresh air, and I never considered any of the others because...just because, really. That's how narrow my focus is at times.
This process repeated in several other rooms with windows I've also seen countless times over the years and never thought to look for screens, because I was so, "locked in." Now, miracle of all miracles, this place has about twice the air flow it had before, because I read the book. Granted, summer is almost over, and I'll have to shut all of them again soon, but hey, I'm ready to go for summer 2019! It's all about taking your wins where you can get them, my friends.
If you're also an introvert like me, I encourage you to a) read the book, and b) try to give yourself a moment every now and again to take a deep breath and take in just a little bit more of the world around you. It's not that you should try to become an extrovert, but you might find something useful right in front of you.
Take a deep breath once in a while. (pic via greenaircleaningnyc.com)