When I was under the belief I would become a community development professional I took a course at the Economic Development Institute, which was located at the University of Oklahoma in beautiful Norman, Oklahoma. Anyone taking the course spent one week each of three years and attended classes covering various aspects of the profession, including retail and service issues, working with organizations, and marketing (which is what most attendees were most interested in, the profession at the time being dominated by such individuals who, truth be known, actually cared little about truly developing community capacity). My department enrolled several of us at any given time as a means of building our professional skills, especially in marketing, which was also politically expedient. I remember many colleagues being most impressed, if not mesmerized, by the fact the Norman had a strip joint, which we had none of in central Missouri, but as so often happens, I digress.
In the second year of this training I took a class on the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, a method of determining how individuals processed information. I had used the indicator prior to this, and considered it nothing more than a good party game. I suppose I thought the class would be a way to kill some time while avoiding more insipid marketing types.
As it happens, Myers-Briggs is much more than a good party game when used appropriately as a communications tool. Among its indicators is a scale which reflects whether an individual is energized by external sources (extrovert), or internal (introvert). Most people are extrovert. About 20% are introverts. The scale didn't just place me to the introverted side, it nearly slid me completely off it. The class described how introverts use 'masks' to get themselves through social situations, although those masks can take enormous energy to maintain, and how successful developers would work to assure introverts had space to function or lose them completely. It was such a revealing class I felt outed - I was gasping for air when it was over. It revealed so much about myself I was overwhelmed and felt completely exposed. It explained why I've always excelled at activities in which I could function independently, relying on my own creativity and with limited oversight or collaboration. I came to realize I would never really be a good functioning community developer, which demands superior collaboration and organizational skills. A good theoretical developer, perhaps, and thus began my damn sociologist period.
It explains, also, why I've always been attracted to places of quiet and solitude. A little gurgling water, maybe a fire pit, back in the trees where I could look out at the world. Long walks. The cliff overlooking the ocean where I used to go to read. All the worlds within.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.