60,000-79,999 SparkPoints 76,664

Introversion and Wasting Time

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I had an interesting conversation with a professor the other day. He asked me why I never took any of his classes before this semester, and one in particular, which is taught only by him and one other professor.

Uh, oh. Can you say, “think carefully before you answer?”

I almost had an answer out when he waved me quiet and told me to shut the door. M-kay??? He said, “here’s what I know about you.” Pregnant pause. How do you respond to that?

He said, “you’re mature, you don’t suffer fools lightly, and you hate having your time wasted.”

Pick jaw up off floor.

Okay, he probably figured that out from the daily logs I’ve been submitting about my most recent courthouse experience. I had written several times about the differences in the way people treat time between my old career and my new one. There are plentiful jokes running around the courthouse where I’ve spent the better part of my time since January, along the lines of “juvenile court time is not regular time. 9:00 a.m. regular time means ‘whenever we get to it’ in juvenile court time.” This is completely foreign to me in terms of my old career in graphics, where if you don’t turn around work by yesterday, you’ll lose your client. I have been very honest in my daily logs about having a difficult time reconciling those two attitudes. And although I have loved every minute of the time I have spent at that courthouse, having to live long term with that kind of cavalier attitude about time would probably drive me out of my mind. I think it’s unprofessional and careless. And yes, foolish.

What does this have to do with taking his class? I had signed up for this class with the other professor, but she tends to be a bit scatterbrained. Her teaching style is all over the place and she can be disorganized. A person like me would find that very foolish and very much a waste of time. Indeed, I sat through one night of class and knew I’d never last an entire semester with her. I dropped the class. I didn’t pick it up with the current professor because frankly, I find him to be a little intimidating. Too late now.

But I’ve been thinking about his comments ever since.

“You don’t suffer fools lightly, and you hate having your time wasted.” What does that mean and where does it come from?

I’m well aware that those two attitudes are going to shape how I approach my career and my interactions with clients, with other lawyers, and with anyone who works for me.

But I think there is no place else that is so affected by these attitudes than in my every day dealings with people in my community. You see, I’m an introvert. I dislike being out in public, “people noise” bothers me, I don’t go to parties, and I avoid crowds like the plague.

For example:

Does anyone else hate grocery shopping? I get really impatient with other shoppers. They stand around and pay no attention to anything going on around them, and if you say "excuse me" to reach something they're standing in front of, they look at you like you're from outer space. Or they argue with cashiers about how much something costs. Or the cashiers themselves try to make small talk while you're checking out. I almost went on a rant today because the cashier, instead of ringing up my stuff, was talking to me about how happy she is that she woke up to sun instead of rain or snow. My knee-jerk response is always a blank stare, and I want to say "I don't care. Just ring me up and let me get out of here!" I am not a small-talker and I want to be left alone. I know it makes me come off as a crotchety old lady, and I don't like it, but I can't help it. I honestly don't give a hoot if the cashier woke up to sunshine today and I can't pretend that I do.

How about getting a haircut? All around me, I hear stylists making small talk with the customers in their chairs. Not me. Silence. Just cut my hair and I’ll pay you (including a generous tip if you do a good job) and leave. That is all.

What about in the car? I hate driving. I want to be Samantha from “Bewitched” and twitch my nose and just be there. Sitting in a traffic jam drives me buggy. And incompetent drivers who don’t pay attention, or who text and drive, or even talk and drive? They make me wish I had a plow on the front of my car. I could just scoop them up and deposit them on the side of the road, out of my way.

Even in my workouts I prefer silence. No music, no workout buddies, just me and the lane I’m swimming in, or the trail I’m riding or running on. The sounds of crickets or birds. Don’t talk to me while I’m working out; it’s a distraction and it wastes my time.

The locker room? Please… I’m naked here. I really don’t want to be talked to. And please for heaven’s sake, keep your little kids under control.

See a pattern here? The pattern I see is that if you try to interact with me, or even have a simple encounter with me out in public, if what you say or do doesn’t make logical sense to me, I’m likely to think you are foolish and you’re wasting my time.

Is that fair? Probably not. I’m sure you’re a perfectly reasonable, nice, intelligent person. And I really should give you the benefit of the doubt.

But the introvert in me doesn’t want to interact, and doesn’t want you around me.

Believe it or not, I have friends. Not a ton of friends, but I have friends. But in retrospect, most of my friends are like me. They’re introverted. Or if they’re extroverted, they at least understand that I am different and they respect it. They don’t insist that I be social “because it’s good for me.” They don’t worry about me being alone. They don’t call me shy, because they know that I’m anything but shy. I just don’t feel the need to share my opinion all the time. And I definitely don’t want to waste my time with meaningless small talk with someone I don’t know.

It is a well known fact that introverts thrive on quiet time. They recharge alone, while extroverts recharge by being social. An extrovert doesn’t consider small talk with a cashier at the grocery store to be a waste of time. An extrovert chats up the stylist during a haircut. And an extrovert would never consider those people to be foolish.

There’s nothing wrong with being either an introvert or an extrovert. It’s just a personal style that comes from the way a person is hard-wired. Whatever your style, don’t apologize for it. It’s who you are.

Just don’t waste my time.

Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I can completely understand. I need alone time to recharge. Most of the time I'd rather listen and observe. Why do I need to talk if I have nothing to say? There isn't any shortage of people willing to do just that.

    Wishing you the best.
    1709 days ago

    Comment edited on: 9/20/2013 8:02:13 PM
    LMAO!!! I didn't notice that you were short on small talk! I thought you did rather well at all that, myself! I seem to fluctuate.....personality-wise, I tend to be on the introvert side. BUT I become one of those 'nervous talkers' when I am nervous, which is a total oxymoron. LOL I think I was just never socialized very well, being a nature child who grew up surrounded by fields and critters. Socialization kinda left me clueless, and here I am, in nursing....go figure. :) Since I have cared predominantly for people who, thru no fault of their own, were usually completely NON verbal, it fell to me to fill in the gaps and talk with them as tho they were just your ordinary, average, every day joe....which, to me, they are, really. This blog got me to thinking just how very many one sided conversations I have held thru the years, I had really never thought of that before. LOL And distressingly, as I age, I find that I sometimes stumble over my words, lose my train of thought, and suffer mind blanks if I get even the tiniest bit distracted. (sigh) But thankfully, you still talk to me. LOL So see? You DO suffer SOME fools! But as for the grocery shopping, crowds, or other generalities....I hear ya, sistah. Drives me absolutely insane. However, I am finding that I actually like driving to places.....I guess you really can teach an old dog some new tricks?
    1846 days ago
    Ahhaaaa.... I AM the talky person...and I do keep talking even if you have stopped listening - my sister on the other hand is just like you I think!

    Myers Briggs I am ENFP most of the time but when I'm intensely studying (and procrastinating) I am ESTP.
    1846 days ago

    Comment edited on: 5/6/2013 4:17:18 PM
    “You don’t suffer fools lightly, and you hate having your time wasted.”

    Sorry, gotta do another post...

    I have a little note on my phone at work. It reads "The 8 second rule is in effect". Meaning, if you can't state the purpose of your call with a cogent thought within eight seconds, I'm hanging up. Really, how long does it take to express why you called? Some apparently need minutes to get to the point. Not interested by then and yes, to my discredit for my co-workers, I have.
    1858 days ago
    This sounds a lot like me, too, except I do like music or TV when I exercise. That is one time I appreciate the distraction.
    1860 days ago
    Jeez, that's like reading in a mirror if you'll excuse mixing metaphors. You just wrote me up.
    1860 days ago
    "Keep talking, talky-person"

    That is hilarious and is going to be my new mantra when I have to deal with talky people. Seriously, I avoid some cashiers who I know are chatty. I will make small talk, to an extent, but don't tell me about your day, and don't talk so much that you get distracted from ringing me up and it takes 5 minutes longer for me to get out of the store than it should.

    Your description reminds me of a friend of mine who has deemed herself a super introvert. Have you ever taken one of those Myers-Briggs tests? I am an INFJ, which means I am an introvert, but most people can't tell, because I can fake it pretty well. The one person who sees how much of an introvert I am is Jason, who has seen me have several meltdowns when I don't get enough alone, unstimulated time.

    I have some bad news for you. Being a lawyer has made me have to push down some of my introverted tendencies. I have to go to events and schmooze. I have to be patient with chatty clients. I don't like it, but it has to be done. And then I come home and collapse.
    1860 days ago
    A whole lot of people think I'm an extrovert, actually I think I mean most people. CFO, loud voice, opinionated which doesn't mean I am an extrovert...not that I want to discuss it either.

    Oh, but music while I'm working out? Definitely. Then nobody talks to me. I take them off and people immediately want to have a conversation.
    1861 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/22/2013 2:45:08 PM
    very interesting post :) I can't help but feel like someone could probably say the same thing about myself? "doesn't suffer fools lightly" woooboy, I have this look when people start yammering on at me... my one eyebrow raises and I just kind of stare at them. I would say I'm not very far into the introverted territory, but I've crossed the line. It probably doesn't help that often times at parties or grocery store check outs or bars that I often can't or didn't hear what someone has said to me. I definitely have to be in the mood to deal with people, other wise I prefer to smile nod, and walk away.

    and that infographic made me giggle... "keep talking talky-person" ha!
    1861 days ago
    I hate grocery shopping too! My husband does it and I do laundry because shopping is like a vacation for him. He goes through each isle and picks up stuff on a whim. I stick to my list and resent those people that slow me down.
    1861 days ago
    We all can be so different...and there's more than enough room for us all too! :-)

    I can definitely relate to a huge amount of small talk that goes on around me. A co-worker talking about a wedding they'd been to over the weekend, ANY reality TV chat...the whole genre of reality TV leaves me with a big yawn (don't we have enough of our OWN reality? and if not, shouldn't we do something about THAT instead of losing ourselves in Kardashian-land?)...too much stuff out there that seems SO inconsequential to me.

    I like to talk with others, but like to dig into "meatier" topics such as how does the warp & woof of the world create such tragedies as Boston and what could make a difference toward bringing people together...?

    Wow...working out to no MUSIC? Even when riding my bike out on the roads, during which I will not listen to music for safety concerns, I still turn on my "inner radio" and have music going at least sorta. Sometimes for expediencies sake I'll skip the mp3 player during my fitness center workouts just to save time, though...and it does open the door to some helpful introspection.

    Accepting ourselves and others is the heart of the matter...it's what makes the world run the way it should.

    1861 days ago
    Oh my gosh!!! You have just described how I feel about shopping and exercising and life in general! I NEED alone time. Extroverts just don't get that. I've learned to fake it a little so people don't turn me in for being a sociopath, and I've really had to fake it at things like conventions and receptions. It's absolutely exhausting. My husband is a completely unashamed introvert. He's raised it to a high art form. I've discovered that it seems to be easier for men to be introverts than for women, because women are expected to make small talk and be "social". The only reason anything gets done in this world is that methodical people who don't spend their time gabbing and wasting time get it done. I predict that while the attitudes towards time in your new profession might drive you batty, you will be able to help a lot of people, and earn respect along the way.
    1861 days ago
    Take heart, the most successful attorney I know has an undergraduate degree in Extractive Metallurgical Engineering. He tells me that a lot of his fellow attorneys are disorganized in both thought and action. He is methodical and analytical and is respected by judges and feared by opposing council. He is also one of the finest men I know.

    Your experience in graphics and work ethic will really come in handy as a counselor.

    I can make small talk with a grocery store clerk. I appear to be friendly and outgoing. With few exceptions, I run alone, I bike alone, I ski alone, I travel alone and ride my motorcycles alone. Just like you, I need a lot of time by myself.

    I also hate crowds and dislike parties. My wife is an extreme extrovert but has given up trying to drag me to social events. My idea of bliss is riding my Fat Bike through deep snow into the trackless wilderness where I have the entire Rocky Mountains to myself.

    Thanks for sharing, Bruce
    1861 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    Two words: Online shopping. :-)

    1861 days ago
    I knew you and I had some things in common. emoticon Although, my family calls it something other than "introvert" when I do things like go off about the drive up teller needing to shut up and just process my deposit (if I wanted human interaction, I'd have gone into the bank)!

    It's probably why I'm drawn to accounting and IT. Numbers and computers just sit there and quietly do exactly what is expected of them. The law seems like it would be the opposite - lots of innane babble.
    1861 days ago
    I'm an INTJ myself. Best description of introversion I've heard is that we "value solitude". That's why we are not necessarily shy or socially awkward.

    Not having patience with the rest of humanity is not introversion, though, that's something else again. Do you foresee yourself sitting on a porch a few years hence yelling at those damn kids to get off your lawn?

    1861 days ago
    I thought your post was very interesting. I'm an introvert as well and I have struggled with most of the things you mention.

    I have my days off in the middle of the week. That way I can shop in peace.

    I like to go to the movies in the middle of the day as well.

    My understanding is that introverts process things internally and extroverts process things externally. So, to me it doesn't necessarily mean that they don't like people or socializing. I believe it does mean that while extroverts get energized by being out and about, introverts tend to need to recharge, in quiet, so they can process things.

    Wishing you all the best!!
    1861 days ago
    I hear you. INTx. emoticon
    They just don't get it!
    1861 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.