Monthly Archives: February 2013

Work Generation

– Alexia M. Larcher

Like many other introverts, I am ambitious. I grew up poor and I swore to myself that I would be financially independent as soon as possible and make enough money not to have to worry about simple things like buying clothes and owning a room of my own. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to finish my bachelor degree and know enough about selling (and I’m prone to get badly nervous when I sell, honestly) to repeatedly use it to get a job. Of course, this means I go out of my way to acquire information about business as a whole and business culture more specifically so I can get through my day so I can keep said job.

At the same time, I recognize that my work experience is not all that different from other members of my generation in North America. I have had a superfluous number of temp jobs. I have been told that I should work for free, also known as gathering internships under my belt, which I could not afford because of the above-mentioned upbringing. I have little job security to speak of. I have little to no seniority too. I can’t expect to ever have either. I have been underemployed all of my working life so far. Due to the lack of seniority, I have had a hard time trying to get jobs which would not underemploy me, but I go out of my way to learn something from every job I’ve been in. I’m eager and impatient to start my “career”, but I don’t know when that will happen because of the way many companies deal with employees. It’s definitely been their market for a while now. I have savings because I’m disciplined in that regard, but I know I can’t expect to retire and I worry that I will never be able to even buy a house. So in many ways, I am not so different than most of my peers.

All that to say that all these changes can hit introverts hard. Work is one of the few not-so-optional life activities asides from dating where we meet so many strangers on a regular basis. You’re always meeting new people if you can’t find an employer that will let you stick around and grow on them for a while. You might be placed into situations where you don’t get a second chance because you have two weeks to persuade people you’re “likeable enough” to hire you permanently. You have to impress more people than before because everyone works in teams and the gods help you if you happen to be put in the same team as someone who spends their 40+ hours a week talking non-stop. At least we know where the washrooms are by now.

So whenever I start a new job, I make checkmark lists. Have I been going out of my way to sleep well, a known mood-booster? Check. Did I meet as many people on the team as possible and did I like them? Check. Do I know the area well enough to spot prime nap places (naps in the sun after dinner make for a great dessert)? Check. Do I know how many people I will be dealing with? Check. Have I decided on a post-first-day introvert activity? Check. It feels a little ridiculous, but the lists make change a little easier for me to deal with.

Advertisements

Liebster Award

LiebsterAwardHave you heard about the Liebster Award? It’s an award bloggers give to one another to help spread word of newish/little known blogs. To get one means the person who gave it to you appreciates the work you do. And we got one! It really means a lot to me to know that there are people out there who are actually reading my blog and can relate to the things I write about. So, I especially want to thank Hella Quirky for nominating me.

Each award come with instructions. Some quick googling tells me that these instructions vary depending on who exactly sent you the award, so I’m just going to stick to want was sent to me. My instructions are as follows:

1. List 5 facts about yourself
2. Answer 5 questions given to you from your nominator.
3. Create 5 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Chose 5 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.

6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

So, here we go!

1. List 5 facts about yourself

1) I love languages. English is my native language and I can also speak (or at least read) French and German.

2) I find it difficult staying in the same place for a long time. I’ve moved around a lot in my (albeit short) adult life, and I find if I stay too long in the same city, I get bored. This is very likely related to number 3).

3) I have a love/hate relationship with routine. I have routines, but they can only last for so long. For example, I normally eat the same thing every day for supper. But, after 2 or 3 months, I’ll get bored of it and find something else to eat. Then, I’ll eat nothing but that for 2 or 3 months straight.

4) I’m lazy

5) I drink way too much coffee.

2. Answer 5 questions given to you from your nominator.

1) Why did you start blogging in the first place?

I’ve always liked writing, in part because of my general love of language. I started blogging in particular because of a friend of mine. At the moment, I’m studying translation and my friend is already a translator. He told me that a translator is a kind of writer, and so I should always be writing in order to practise my skill.

2) When you’re the most down, what in life causes you to keep going?

I, of course, like movies, music, etc., but because I consider myself a writer in particular, I’ll read stuff that other people have written to remind myself what my goals are. Of course, when you’re most down, your goals can seem unattainable, but a reminder of what exactly it is you want always helps.

3) What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Chocolate.

4) Last day on earth, what would you do?

I’ve lived in my current city for a while now, but there are still places I haven’t explored yet.

5) What about YOU is quirky?

I can stay locked in my room for days on end. Normally, though, I don’t plan far enough in advance, so I end up having to get groceries or something. I like doing this in the dead of winter and I can imagine how cold and inhospitable it is outside while I’m nice and warm in my apartment.

3. Create 5 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award

1)What topics do you find yourself blogging the most about?

2) Is blogging a pass-time for you, or have you made it a part of your career?

3) What’s your number 1 guilty pleasure?

4) What achievement are you proudest of?

5) If you could prevent one thing from happening to you in the past, would you be a completely different person today and would you rather be that different person than to have lived through whatever thing had happened to you?

4. Chose 5 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.

1) Moments of Mezz

2) Nearly Missed It

3) Taxi Dog Blues

4) The “In” Librarian

5) Our Vintage Life

5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.

Off to go do that now!

6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.

Thanks, again, Hella Quirky!

Set the Stage Without Fear

– Alexia Larcher

I have a long history with the stage. I met her when I was 5 or 6, over dance lessons. I remember being small and swinging a beach ball to the tune of “California Girls” in a kid’s bathing suit with other kids in front of a crowd of adults. Later it was tap dance, “jazz dance”, and ballet. Puberty hit me pretty badly (read: acne galore) and my troupe had graduated to putting only beautiful girls in the show, so I moved on too, to music; first, I played the flute, then the clarinet, then the tenor saxophone with a side of alto saxophone. I even wrote plays for my friends and I to perform until the age of 10. If I ever had stage fright, I was too young to remember it now.

But I do remember when I started playing solos because it made me incredibly nervous at first. The entire point of playing solos for a band is to showcase your skills. Traditionally, you have to stand up or step forward for solos, away from the rest of the band. It draws the crowd’s eyes to you. You are not only required to play at a high level, you are required to verbally demonstrate that you can pull it off better than other band member at that point of the song. And saxophones squeak when you push them too hard out of nervousness, if you close your mouth too tightly around the mouthpiece. (It kind of sounds like this.)

Luckily, I had an excellent teacher. “You play too quietly,” he would say, “go all out! I know you can do it.” I would reply “But what if I squeak?” “Then squeak, but keep playing. If you blast your one squeak and keep playing, nobody will particularly notice. But if you worry and stop playing right after you squeak, the audience will notice your every hesitation for the rest of the show.” He was confident that we would prepare, enough that one squeak would not ruin the rest of the solo or the song. And guess what? He was right. Most audiences forgive small mistakes. Most audiences know what it’s like to feel alone in front of others; they feel grateful for not being in that position when they watch you.

A lot of introverts struggle with the stage because we are used to observing others. We are not so used to being observed. When the crowd’s eyes move over us, we suddenly revert to introspection. How do I look? Am I acceptable? Will they judge me badly? Will I trip over myself? Will they laugh at me? The fight or flight mechanism kicks in. We quickly mumble our way to silence. It’s one thing we do well.

But the stage is its own universe. We can set up the sound, the lighting, the decor. We set a time for people to show up and they come (or they don’t). We can write a script for the stage and it’s considered appropriate. We choose the music we will perform and practice for months, all for one show that will last a few hours.

On the stage, we become a part of the stage itself. Have you ever stood in front of an energized crowd, sitting on the edge of their seats, smiling, listening, and waiting for what you will do next? You step out from between immense opaque curtains and the spotlight blinds you for a second or two. You pull your partition or notes closer and move to your seat or podium. You smile because you’re prepared and you will give them a good show. You are now part of it all.

A few more tips on public speaking for introverts

Is it harder for women to be introverts?

If I were to ask you to think of some introverted famous people, the first ones off the top of your head, who would you say? A lot of people say that Barack Obama’s an introvert, though personally it seems a little silly to me to think that you can tell someone’s personality from watching a few seconds of soundbites. What about famous characters? Definitely, anyone played by Clint Eastwood. Gandalf? Maybe not your first choice, but James Bond always seemed like an obvious introvert to me. What do all these people have in common? Presumably you read the title of this post, so you know what I’m getting at here – they’re all men.

Characters in popular culture provides the archetypes that we use to make sense of all the different people we encounter in our lives and ourselves. If a man is introverted, he can cast himself as the “strong, silent type”; a Clint Eastwood, a Gandalf, or a James Bond. This is a way for him to begin to understand himself and the fact that it’s a character that exists in mainstream culture is a sort of validation of his personality type.

But for a woman who’s introverted, what archetypes can she work off of? In some ways, this is a genuine question. I know very little about what it’s like to be a women, but my impression is that women are always expected to be very social.

The question about whether it’s “hard” for a woman to be introverted is two-fold. First, there’s the matter of personally accepting that she is an introvert. Extroversion is held as the ideal for both men and women, but a man has the option of using the strong, silent archetype. Secondly, there’s society’s acceptance of an introverted woman. Barack Obama is cool, calm, collected. What do people call a woman who doesn’t talk much?

I would definitely like to hear your thoughts. Do you think it’s harder for women to be accepted as introverts?