For years I've wondered why certain circumstances in life made me either happy or miserable, and I had grown comfortable with my explanation that I was just cranky and weird. I never gave psychology or personality traits a moment's thought. I assumed much of it was just hokum anyway.
But recently, as part of a staff development day at work, I took a Myers-Briggs test for the first time, and I was surprised by the results and implications. It turns out I'm a very marked introvert, yet had someone asked me if I were more introverted or extroverted before, I probably would have responded the latter. After all, I've been a teacher on and off for 18 years, which means public speaking and "performing" 180 days a year. And before that I was a musician performing on stage in concert halls with hundreds of audience members. And now I'm a speech and debate coach. (Go figure!)
But Cain's book puts all of that in a context I had never appreciated before. It's now very clear to me why I've enjoyed some parts of my professional life and dreaded others. (And "dread" may not be a strong enough word for what goes through me some days.) It explains why the happiest years of my life professionally were when I was writing my two books, even though my personal life was in turmoil. It explains why when I have to be "on" that I need time afterwards to recover, why I prefer small and intimate gatherings and dislike cocktail party "happy talk." It explains so much...
The troubling result of reading this, however, is that it makes me question a lot of the career choices I've made (or have fallen into), and at my age, whether it's worth trying to move into a new direction that would be more fulfilling, but means starting again. Or is Thoreau's "life of quiet desperation" my lot in life? Much to consider.