Introvert Superpowers

March has been a busy month for school visits!

Early in March, I visited the HEART for Christ homeschool support group. One thing I love about homeschool groups is the mixture of age ranges. These students ranged from 4th-8th grades, and their questions were deep, varied, and fascinating.

Photo credit: Paty Sayre

Last week, I was the author guest at Allen At Steinbeck Elementary School. They hosted a schoolwide event called Story Fun Night, and it was just amazing to see so many kids and parents turn out to support literacy. The crowd was huge and I was recovering from a bout of laryngitis, but we had a blast anyway.

Photo credit: Paty Sayre

I love visiting school groups and helping students get excited about reading and writing. But I wouldn’t always have said that. If you’d told my 13-year-old self I would one day be talking in front of dozens, sometimes hundreds of people, the shy, awkward teenager I was would have crawled under the nearest table (probably with a book).

I’m an introvert to the core. No work has better helped me understand that part of myself than Susan Cain’s amazing book Quiet. (It’s also an incredible resource for parents and teachers of introverted children, by the way.) Introversion can be a strength–it’s linked in many cases to traits like creativity, empathy, and a strong sense of conscience–but it can also be a hindrance to doing things like speaking dynamically in front of a crowd.

Unless passion is at stake.

Cain writes that (some) introverts have a special ability–call it a superpower–to temporarily act like extroverts for the sake of “core personal projects,” subjects they care about deeply.

For me, that subject is books.

When I’m talking about literacy, I’ve found that I can get up in front of people, speak with energy, and actually enjoy it. I get energized when I’m listening to students talk about their questions, their roadblocks, their story ideas. Because it’s about books. And kids. And putting the two together. And that matters to me.

Photo credit: Paty Sayre

So yes, I thoroughly enjoy the solitude that a writing life entails. And yes, after speaking, I usually disappear into a book or take a nap. But I’ve also, surprisingly, come to love the part of my job that involves talking in front of people. I love the connection that reading offers us. I love the conversations that develop at the book signing table or over e-mail. I’ve discovered it’s actually pretty fabulous to love doing more than one thing.

So to all my fellow introverts out there–you’re okay. You’re doing fine. Follow your passions. They just might lead you to your superpower.

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