Lately I’ve been thinking about my massive introversion. I think there is still not enough awareness on introversion, that no it has nothing to do with how I seem to be comfortable with people or how engaged I look in group conversations.
I am just exceptionally sensitive to stimuli. Reading an answer on Quora changed the way I understood my own introversion:
Introverts have high baseline levels of cognitive stimulation and arousal even at rest and thus are constantly trying to avoid any additional visual and social stimuli…When Introverts are pushed over their comfortable level of arousal, they have to bring in additional mental resources to filter out or handle the overload. – source
I would say I am even more sensitive than an average introvert, and my tolerance levels are probably so low that sometimes it surprises me how I manage to survive life so far. These days I am grateful I can swim, because it calms my nervous system down and reduces my senses, or I would either fall physically sick or feel like I am going insane.
Last year I tweeted:
which means maybe my work will never get far, but I am comforted throughout history people do isolate themselves for long periods to work.
— Winnie Lim (@wynlim) September 7, 2015
TLDR; I don’t have the stomach to manage the stimuli it requires to do the work I wish to do. I wish I could be someone who is constantly willing to put herself out there to shape the world she believes in. I did try, only to end up in repeated burnouts or having to let people down.
I think I’ve learned to manage it better, by learning how to draw boundaries or set people’s expectations early, but I am constantly pulled towards the work I wish to do, the person I want to be, only to discover there’s only so little I can do for my biological wiring.
I can only be comforted that most qualities are double-edged sword, that the sensitivity comes with a gift:
they found an association between the ability to come up with original ideas and the inability to suppress activation of the precuneus during creative thinking. As the researchers note, these findings are consistent with the idea that more creative people include more events/stimuli in their mental processes…It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the flood gates and letting in as much information as possible. Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas. Indeed, Shelley Carsonand her colleagues found that the most eminent creative achievers among a sample of Harvard undergrads were seven times more likely to have reduced latent inhibition. source
I tell myself that I can only do what I am shaped to do, and there is not much point in being stubborn in trying to do the work I wish to do and end up being ill and miserable most of the time.
I think I have learned to let a lot go – the expectations upon myself especially. I am still trying to experiment with how I can be more strategic with my presence in exposed situations.
If one day it means that all I can do is just to hide in a cabin in solitude to write or make things, I wish to accept that with grace, that perhaps if I stopped wishing to be someone I am not, to do the work I wish to do, I can finally be the person I am meant to be and embark on the work I was meant to do all along.