The Skills of an Introvert: Thirst for learning leads to travels & writing
Were you born an introvert or developed to become one? Interesting, and no doubt someone has done a study somewhere. As a little girl, my hobbies could be associated with being an introvert - sketching, sewing, crafts, jigsaw puzzles, all solitary activities - but I didn't connect them with a personality trait until later. For me, I know the exact moment when I became (or realized I was?) an introvert. I had to stay in junior school (in the UK that was age 11-12 years old) for an extra year because my birthday was in September and I was considered too young. Really? It meant all my friends went up to senior/high school and I repeated a whole year and, of course, decided never to talk to anyone again!
I'm so excited to introduce Jacqueline Jeynes, this week's guest blogger for Beyond Introversion. Jacqueline shares her amazing story of accomplishment, travel, and writing. I love her thirst for knowledge and how she continues to stretch herself in new directions. -Steve Friedman
An Invitation to Lifelong Learning
However, years later I was married with small children. Unfortunately, it was an abusive marriage, but my sons kept me sane. Shortly after my third son was born, someone from the PTA asked if I would like to join a committee. I looked over my shoulder because I thought she must be speaking to someone else. Me? The mum with the wallpaper complex – wanting to fade into the background when in the company of others? She said to give it a go, so I did.
Unbeknownst to me, this rekindled my lifelong love affair with learning. As a 9-year-old, I used to take one-hour bus journeys to spend all day looking at paintings and the Tutankhamen exhibit at the local Museum & Art Gallery. Later, I had dreams of becoming an archaeologist but was not supported in my quest. Then my difficult marriage and parenting seemed to take over my life.
So that invite to the PTA released me. It was a long time ago but was an essential point in my life. Since then, I returned to full-time education and gained a teaching degree, remarried, started my own management training company, and became the national Policy Committee chair representing the views of small firms. I even chaired two meetings at the United Nations Congress on Women in China.
For all those introverts out there. Join a committee, any group. Sit there and listen to the drivel they are talking, the sometimes-odd grasp of reality they seem to have, and believe me, in a short space of time you will feel obliged to say something or you will burst! This was my light-bulb moment when I realized I had something to say that others found useful.
Traveling the Globe
Developing from my role in the Policy Committee, I gained a Ph.D. on risk assessment in small firms. Yes, I know it sounds as dull as ditchwater, but if you want me to represent someone then I will make darn sure I know what I am talking about. This project allowed me to write a book about WWII prisoners of war captured by the Japanese and held in the Far East. Why? Because my father was a POW and I was secretary of the regional support group so I collected stories from others and did further research.
My curiosity has led me on three charity treks, one in the Venezuelan Andes, one across the middle of Cuba, and another to Mount Etna. I have also visited the Northern Lights in Finland, wine tasting in Bordeaux, and a trip across the Canadian Rockies including 3-nights on the sleeper train Rocky Mountaineer (September feature in www.silvertraveladvisor.com). I've been fortunate to pair these amazing travels with my love of writing.
My Writing Path
I've always loved writing. I think it is mainly because I want others to know things, to see they can do something if they are given a clue as to how to get started. As a published author for more than 20 years on a range of non-fiction topics, I know the positive attributes I developed early in life are a perfect basis for becoming a writer. The introvert is ideally placed to become an author, to focus on a topic, get the ideas down in a logical order, and not be distracted by others. For non-fiction, in particular, they are the crucial skills that mean you can produce a piece of work that will appeal to the reader who wants to know more and often wants to know why. My books have all been based on work I was doing at the time, some published by technical publishers, some by my own small publishing facility www.pencoedpublishing.co.uk.
Lessons for the Introvert Learner
Now, I match my introvert tendencies with more confidence in meeting others and speaking publicly. The crucial thing I suppose is that there are more positive elements of introversion that you can build on, with writing in particular offering so many opportunities. As you can see, I also tend to have a lot to say about pretty much any subject! However, the need to carry out research and know as much as I can about a topic is an important element of how I work. Not sure if the approach works the same for writing fiction and the grand novel, so I will let you know if I ever get round to it.
There are crucial lessons here for any introvert. Positive attributes generally relate to:
Ability to focus on a topic and really get to know it
Being able to work on your own with few distractions from others
Great listening skills even if you do not want to join in the conversation
Better time-management and organizational skills
Having an eye for detail, being precise