Anyone who knows me could tell you that I am an introvert. I have always known it, and while I have never felt it was a negative aspect of my personality, it has brought challenges and there have been times I have wished that I could be more outgoing or comfortable in social situations. So when I saw the title The Happy Introvert : The Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self by Elizabeth Wagele, I was intrigued. The name itself was such a contradiction -- I don't know any introverts who are wild and crazy. That's kind of the point of being an introvert, we shy away from wild and crazy and are comfortable with sedate and sane. It also sounded like a fun read, so I downloaded it. It was less fun that the title implied it would be (to be expected I guess considering the subject matter), but also more informative than I expected. I actually did gain some insight into my own character and some helpful information about my opposites. I recommended the book to Matt and a friend who is also an extrovert married to an introvert. She will probably read it, Matt will probably not.
I would also recommend it to parents who are raising an introverted child. There is a chapter about kids and teenagers which got me thinking about where Isaac fell on the spectrum of outgoingness. He has a lot of my personality traits, but he can also be quite a ham. I do think, however, that he has more introvert in him than extrovert. I worry about this because I know how hard it will be for him to be accepted and to accept himself. I already am concerned that he doesn't seem to have many friends at school. But knowing who you are is an important step toward being comfortable in your skin and accepting yourself. It is my job to help him along. And to accept him as he is, introvert or extrovert, loud or quiet, athletic or studious, or any number of other sides of the same coin. I think I can do that -- he's a pretty cool kid, after all.
At the state school library conference last fall, one of the lunch speakers was Jennifer Pharr Davis. She is a hiker who recently broke the overall speed record for a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. Her book about her first thru-hike on the AT, Becoming Odyssa, popped up on the recently added titles list on the library website a few weeks ago. I have been wanting to read it, so it was a no-brainer download. She is almost ten years younger than me and I wish I could be her. I have been wanting to hike the AT for years, since Matt and I listened to Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods years ago on a trip to Florida, as a matter of fact. Do I think I could make it or that I would enjoy it? No, not really. After reading Davis' book, I think it's even more unlikely that it would be something that I could actually do. I think it is not the actual hiking or experience that I want. What I really want is to be the type of person who would do it. I want to be able to put aside societal expectations and just be able to enjoy what is around me. I want to be the type of person who doesn't care about how I look (or smell), who doesn't care about material things and can live out of a backpack for months. I admire the strength of the hikers who can take on that challenge and complete it and wish my body were that strong. And taking the time to do something that is a months long endeavor? I want to be able to set side my everyday life for that long and forget about money and work and responsibilities.
Taking the time to hike the AT seems more impossible to me since Isaac was born. But he is now part of my dream. I imagine us on a mother-son hike in a few years, before he goes to college. The reality will probably be that he is a typical angsty teenager who can't stand his mother, but it's a nice dream.
I am thinking about recommending Becoming Odyssa to our church youth minister. I think it would be a great book for high schoolers to read, especially the girls, before they go to college. Maybe Isaac will read it when he is older and want to go on a hike with his mother.