How being perceived as an introvert almost cost me a job

Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.”  -Susan Cain

Fresh from a teaching college, with my resume in my hand and my heart at my throat, I dreaded messing this up. This was my second ever interview for the job I’d longed for all my life, and I knew my palms were sweating, so I quickly dried them on my navy blue interview skirt. I could feel the beginnings of a stress headache starting to crush my temples under its iron fingers. I had done all the right things in college: honor’s diploma, double major, clubs and accolades galore, but it’d all be for nothing if I couldn’t get a job.

And I almost didn’t. The superintendent was famous for seeing himself as incredibly funny. He had a ready smile for everyone, heck, he even played the wizard in our school’s Wizard of Oz, carrying hundreds of balloons through the auditorium. But that was far in the future for me, and this was now. I was in the hot seat, but I certainly wasn’t hot. As cold sweat ran in a river underneath my navy blue interview jacket, I smiled and pretended a confidence I didn’t feel. He knew.

With one look and one failed attempt at laughing at his jokes, I had outed myself as a potential introvert. A painful intellectual, who one superintendent told me in an interview could never connect with his lower English students. This superintendent, the one who would become my boss for nine years, gave me a bright, Colgate smile and told me he’d call. My shoulders slumped as I made my way out to my car.

Then I get a call from my cooperating teacher. She tells me that the superintendent had called her, not long ago. He wanted to know how personable I was. Luckily for me, Mrs. Baker knew I was excellent at connecting with kids. She reassured him I had a great sense of humor, too. Thanks to her assurances, I got the job. And guess what? I actually excel at connecting with lower level students. Much of my 10th grade sees me as mom. They know I care, in a world where so many don’t.

So that superintendent, who was so hesitant to hire me? Well, how confident I seemed so long ago shouldn’t have made any difference. I know some awesome introverts who make great teachers. We all have our strengths in this life.

Am I an introvert? After reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, I know that I am not. I’m an overly sensitive extrovert. Put it to you this way: I love connecting with people, but a beautiful song will make me cry, and I can’t stand super loud anything.

Image attributed to https://www.flickr.com/photos/markjsebastian/

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting! I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit since coming home recently. I’m still an extrovert, according to all the tests, but I think I’ve added a layer of sensitivity to my extroversion that wasn’t there before. I don’t know if it’s something I’m wearing, or something I grew into, but we shall see.

    Also, I’ve had plenty of teachers who were fabulous… and introverts. My husband was an introvert and still magical at nearly everything he did. 🙂 Judgement stops progress, indeed it does.

    Good luck Nano’ing! ❤

    Reply

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’m rereading Susan Cain’s Silence because I somehow became in charge of a Twitter book club for teachers. Good luck in the Nano Stream, yourself!

      Reply

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