Jun 5

Into the Wilderness

Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again. —Joseph Campbell

In her TED talk, Susan Cain discusses the power of introverts—especially when they allow themselves to go into the wilderness.

The wilderness is marked by quiet solitude and contemplation. The wilderness is my sacred space.

The wilderness is composed of the set of variables that promote key stimulation and productivity. For most introverts, the key ingredient is solitude.

As an introvert, I have tried everything to repel this defining characteristic. My efforts only resulted in growing frustration.

Many of my closest friends are extroverts. My husband is an extrovert. In order to maintain these relationships, I learned to share what I need to be my most productive and creative.

In college, my friends and roommate knew that I didn’t go to parties over the weekend. They also knew that I much rather go out for an intimate birthday dinner than do anything else. When I was working, they would turn off the music and let me be in my zone. If not, I would get crabby fast. However, I also knew that I needed to give my friends the space they needed to be extroverts. When it was party time, I would plan to work in the library. At first, I did feel like an incredible nerd. However, over time, I realized that these were my quirks and I had to accept them as well as those who wanted to be close to me.

Currently, my husband and I both work from home. This situation would have driven me insane earlier in our relationship. He needs constant noise in order to stay alert and productive. I need the opposite. So I work in my office with the door closed while he works in his own little nook on the opposite end of the apartment. I look longingly at those beautiful desks made for two (how do Sherry and John do it!?) wishing we could work side by side but know that is never going to be successful for us.

Being an introvert is not glamorous. However, we each have our own quirks that make us who we are. Intrinsically, we know what we need to be most productive. Once we accept this knowledge, we begin to realize our power and our full potential. Then, the wilderness becomes the most glamorous place to be.

Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you ever think you’re a complete nerd like me?!

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Posted in: Creative, Creativity & Inspiration, Goals & Productivity, Inspired, Personal, When You Feel

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Dayla June 5, 2012 at 2:50 PM

This! Me! I am an introvert and my husband is an extrovert. But i think that we balance eachother out just right!


Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:06 PM

I definitely agree. We definitely balance each other out too!


Rebecca P. Cohen June 5, 2012 at 2:55 PM

I am both – right in between – and I need an equal amount of time with people and without. Coincidentally, and beautifully, I just posted my blog about sacred space outside…http://www.rebeccaplants.com/wordpress


Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM

That is so interesting that you are in between. I think that’s the perfect spot to be. I wish I had more extroverted qualities :)


mandie June 5, 2012 at 3:09 PM

I’m definitely an introvert. It is hard sometimes even just to be with my entire family because there are so many of us now, & I’ve lived with just my husband now for 6 years, so I’m sort of used to the quiet. In fact, we’ve worked opposite schedules for most of our marriage until a month ago when he quit working to go to school full time, and now he’s home at night with me. It was a struggle at first, but I think we’re figuring it out. :)


Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:11 PM

I totally get what you’re saying about going from the two of you to the whole family. It takes time to recalibrate!


Ben June 5, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Hey look i’m a blogebrity!


Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM

love the new term :)


Sarah June 5, 2012 at 4:35 PM

I think I would describe myself as a determined introvert. I can be extrovert when the situation demands it (hence the determination) but left to my own devices? I’m the suiet one with the books too.

I love the TED talks link – I am slowly losing a large portion of my life to those talks – they are amazing!



Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:13 PM

love love love that phrase, determined introvert.


Estrella Azul June 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Yes, more often than not, I also feel like a complete nerd. I’m an introvert and peace and quiet are my sustenance.
My boyfriend, the Chef, is a complete extrovert. He keeps the TV on even if he’s not in the room, needs to listen to music while doing most anything; thrives on it.
I’ll have to slowly teach him the “trick” of putting headphones on if we’re both trying to work in the same room *winks* That way both of us will be happy and not get cranky.


Carolyn June 5, 2012 at 5:10 PM

Oh my gosh, my husband does the same thing–always keeps the TV on (even when he’s on a call on speakerphone–totally drives me crazy). When we were in college and had a lot less space, I got him wireless headphones so he could watch tv without disturbing me. Did the trick!


Estrella Azul June 6, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Thanks. What a great idea, wireless headphones! Now I know what the Chef’s next present will probably be ;)


Carolyn June 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

a present for both of you :)


Annie June 5, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Oh my gosh– silly me, I read about halfway through thinking that what I was reading was coming from Susan Cain, marveling at how much it resonated with me. Then I realized, DUH ANNIE this is Carolyn writing! And then it really freaked me out how much I understood what you were describing!!

Honestly, what you described about college— me to a T. Exactly. The parties, the birthday dinners, the need for quiet work space. So the same. Huge, noisy gatherings with lots of people will just never really be my style, and I definitely realized that for sure in college. I will always prefer smaller, more intimate gatherings with people I feel comfortable with.

The thing is- when I’m in situations like the former, I definitely tend to retreat into that introvert shell. But when I’m with a smaller group, when I feel comfortable in my environment, I’m an extrovert all the way! So I guess for me it’s situational.


Kristin June 5, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Oh I’m definitely an innie – and so is my husband. That makes it hard for me to answer the question “So what did you do over the weekend?”. “I never left the house” doesn’t seem to be a great answer in a lot of people’s minds. Though that often also means I learned a new skill, read a new book, wrote a blog post, or accomplished some other major goal.


Lori June 10, 2012 at 6:24 PM

I’m a complete introvert. I need my space and quiet. The majority of my past jobs and my current PT job has me always working with many people. Then I’d come home to a husband who liked to chat. I don’t think I realized up until a year or two ago, how much I needed my own quiet space to recharge. Now I try to find time during the day or evening to take some time for myself. It really does me good and my relationships are stronger! :-)


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