Sunday, April 15, 2012

On introversion. And proving Mr. Cooper wrong.

I still remember when I was eleven years old, and the principal called me and another student down to the office to meet with him. He told us that he wanted to start up a school newspaper, and had called upon us bright chipper young chaps to try and start up the paper. Without much more detail, he paused. And, not really knowing what to say, I kind of just looked at him.

Well, that didn't go over so well. "Why aren't you asking any questions?" he said. "Real journalists ask all kinds of questions. You're not looking like very good material here."

So I just kind of shrunk back and decided that if that's what he thought, well, I'm not going to work for someone who doesn't believe in me anyways. And I just pretty much stopped talking and left the office. Done deal - little to say that I never got to be part of the school paper. Not that I really cared. I hadn't even known why I was going into the office in the first place. And then here he was. Telling me what to do, how I was to do it, and expecting me to just be okay with it. I was eleven for peats sake! Give me a little slack sir - I don't function well when people criticize me before even giving me a chance. And I don't think I was the only child who felt that way.

Well sorry Mr. Cooper. But I'm doing a Masters in Journalism. So HA!

Sorry about that - getting the anger out. phew. Okay, all this to say that people cannot just look at someone and then decide who they are. I'm an introvert. I'm not a 'rah-rah' individual. I don't charge into a room and command everyone's attention. I will not be the first person to respond in a group conversation. I don't function well in big group settings by myself. I won't jump in and ask a bunch of questions. But that doesn't make me a bad journalist. It makes me a thinker - slow to act, quick to listen. And such is how I prefer conversations, how I've always preferred conversations. They're much more real when you grow to understand who the other person is before you jump down their necks with questions. And generally better prepared if you take time to think through an interview before you begin it.

I work for the student newspaper now, and they gave me the award "The Venus Fly Trap," because they said I was sweet, and kind, and quiet, but when I go into my interviews, I bite if you don't give me the answer that I need. I know when someone's lying, or when they're just trying to cop out, and I'll call them on it.

So voila. This is how I function - you don't know what I'm capable of until you give me a chance.

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