I sat down at my desk and looked up at the clock, 2:37, I read. All my students had left school via bus or parents and I was left with an afternoon of planning ahead of me. As a teacher, getting breaks can vary wildly depending on your school. I’ve been in schools where I had 1-2 hour long lesson planning ‘breaks’ and ones like mine where it was rare to have a lesson planning period (our only guaranteed break is 30 minutes for lunch). Depending on the day, I can find myself with a really quiet lunch or one where there are too many people in the staff room to even think. It’s not a ‘friendly’ situation for an introvert to be caught in, at least not long-term. Luckily I’m often in late lunch periods that have either one other teacher or none at all.
I’m a very energetic person and very-people centered. Therefore it surprises some to hear that I’m an introvert. More specifically, according in Myers-Briggs, an INFJ, ‘the counselor’. As someone who knows how they function quite well, I know that I need a break after students leave for 10-15 minutes to collect my thoughts. After that, I’ll be raring to go for meetings and to to tackle lesson plans, create materials or do other work tasks. This is time I need. I’m not being lazy, I come in early everyday and work quite diligently outside my needed introvert break. Everyone needs it (it’s a need not a want for most people). Don’t worry, there’s a point to these tangents!
As I sat at my desk, collecting my thoughts and responding to text messages I’d received (I don’t touch my phone save for lunch and after kids leave and certainly not during meetings), another teacher approached me. It was clear that I was relaxing at my desk and in the middle of texting someone, yet she pulled up a chair and began talking nonstop about something. I adore her and enjoy talking to her, but this is my ‘break’. I tried to give non-verbal cues that right then wasn’t a good time to talk and I’d be more than happy to talk in a minute, but she kept going on. I found myself in the position that many introverts dread and make them mentally cry–someone is in your space during your ‘recharge’ time and an extroverted friend isn’t getting it.
My teacher friends are split between extroverts and introverts. Yesterday I talked to another teacher whose an introvert and she confessed to the same thing. Extroverted family, friends and colleagues, whom we love and/or enjoy being around, just don’t get our ‘down time’. Growing up, my parents criticized me for needing alone time and told me to get over it. They’d even go far enough to point out individuals, who were introverts and amazing people that ‘you don’t want to end up like them, they have no friends and are difficult people’. It wasn’t until college that I realized it was ok, thanks to wonderful mentors and friends. We’re all wired differently, some of us relish in alone time, others around people and both are perfectly fine, neither is better or worse.
As an INFJ, I’m very people centered. I frequently visit friends who don’t live nearby, love doing things with friends and helping out anyone who needs help or an ear to hear. I just need time to recharge in my own element. If one were to look at my schedule, they’d see a teacher who gives off an extroverted vibe at work because she connects so deeply and talks a lot with those around her, during the day. In the evenings, she might grab dinner with a friend or see a movie once a week, but otherwise she’s at home reading, gaming, doing a craft etc. by herself. Weekends are usually split with one day dedicated to 1:1 time with a friend (maybe 2-3 at most) and a day to ‘recover’. Living alone helps a lot as my home is my space (something I’ll continue until I a) can’t afford it or b) get married.
My dear extroverts, we love you and enjoy spending time with you, heck we admire your ability to keep going and reach out to people! However, we need time to ourselves and you gotta understand that.