Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Telling Life: E is for extroverts and introverts

The A-Z Blog Challenge continues. 
Monday - something light to start the week. A bit of self-care, creativity challenge or the like.
Tuesday - telling notes for a specific story or kind of story. Tips and tricks to help you think about what you're telling and how.
Wednesday - my usual #tellinglife post, looking at some of the more personal aspects of storytelling and its role in my life.
Thursday - a dip into some of the issues facing contemporary storytelling or a dive into some of the more unusual applications of storytelling.
Friday - my usual personal post about life following the death of my husband
Saturday - the storytelling coach offers a tip you can use right now. An example of the kinds of tools I encourage my students to use.

I know, you won't believe me when I tell you this, but I am pretty introverted. That is sometimes a challenge in the #tellinglife, but I'm not alone. I know quite a few storytellers who, when they're offstage and not interacting with their listeners, are introverts. This isn't surprising, when you think about; storytelling (like any art) required quite a bit of internal work. Introverts tend to be energized by time alone, while extroverts tends to be energized by time with others. Storytellers need to be able to work well alone while we do all of the behind-the-scenes crafting and practice. The onstage time represents only a small percentage of a storytellers working life.

Both extroversion and introversion have their advantages; it's helpful to know where you fall so you can manage your energy reserves more effectively. I know this because it took me years to realize I was an introvert and respond appropriately. I used to wonder why I was so tired after social events, why I didn't particularly enjoy most parties and crowded places, why I had to work so hard at small talk. It was baffling. I'm a storyteller, surely I thrive on attention and others?!


I saw Susan Cain's fantastic TED talk and found myself crying. Everything fell into place. While I do thrive on performance, I am exhausted by big social interactions. I need a lot of time to recharge. Understanding my own tendency toward introversion made an enormous difference in my life and in my performance. Now that I know I need quiet time, that I am better at 1:1 conversation, that I need to work at small talk, I can make better choice. I can choose to be lively at a party or networking event, but I know there will be a cost. I can be social and outgoing, but I am an introvert. I love the quiet alone time I need to work on a new story or piece of writing. I thrive on intimate conversations. I have a much better sense of how to care for myself as a performer, artist and human being. I also have a much better sense of how to spend time with my extroverted friends and how to ask for what I need.

Likewise, if you are an extrovert and you know it, you can make choices about how you take care of yourself. You can find the kinds of social situations that feed you best and you can make choices about how you interact with those who have less social ease than you.

A little self-knowledge goes a long way. Both extroverts and introverts have important and powerful skills. Once we know what nurtures us best we can take better care of ourselves and those around us.

Are you an extrovert or introvert? How does that impact your #tellinglife?

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License


  1. I loved Susan Cain's book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". It was fascinating. Great topic!

    Weekends In Maine

  2. Great blog title & posts! I'm an extroverted introvert. Love performing & interacting with people but it totally wipes me out. Need lots of quiet time to recharge. Thanks for the reminder about the Susan Cain book, I meant to read it. ;-)


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