Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Sept. 11, 2009

Tough being green

Last Thursday was both the best and worst of days. And as soon as it was over, I began planning next year's good/bad day.

Each year the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media presents a lecture and it's my baby. I develop the pool of speakers, contact the selected one, make arrangements for him or her to come to K-State, schedule the hall and the banquet meal, work on promotions and take care of many other details - and I enjoy all of it.

Then, on the day of the lecture, I have to change from being the get-it-done person to being the hostess, which includes introducing the speaker. This part I could happily hand off to someone, if there was someone to hand it off to.

Now some might conclude that I was shy and they'd be correct, but only partially so. The problem is I'm not "normal" - I'm different.

Kermit the Frog, a regular among the Muppet characters on "Sesame Street," had a song called, "It's tough being green." Its purpose was to teach youngsters that there is nothing wrong with being different, but sometimes others won't understand.

Daughter Katie is different by being left-handed. Lab computers, manual can openers, and even scissors are configured for the right-handed person.

But sometimes being different isn't about being in the minority, but being what is generally accepted as not as good. In my case, I'm an introvert.

Daughter Mariya is even more introverted than I am. When I asked how her first day of teaching at K-State went, she replied, "I didn't vomit, trip or faint, so I met all my goals for the day!"

Some folks have the idea that extroversion is good and introversion is bad. Some have even carried this to the point of trying to change us, much the way left-handed people were once forced to write with their right hand. We can no more change than a tall person can change into a short one.

What we can do is adapt when handling situations better suited for extroverts. Introverts do not like the spotlight. So while many teachers spend their time doing lesson plans for lectures, I arrange many of my classes as projects where I can work one-on-one rather than in a large lecture format.

And I don't do this just for me. Most classroom situations are set up to allow the extroverts to shine. The teacher stands before a large group and the spot-light seeking extroverts have their hands in the air. Teachers tend to see the others as not quite as bright.

But in reality, our minds work differently. We break problems down into pieces, often subconsciously, and then put a solution together. It takes more time than is available in a classroom setting, but our solutions are many times more complete and comprehensive.

Riley County High School's vocal teacher mentioned to husband Art that good instrumentalists tend to be introverts as they are comfortable with the long hours of solitary practice. In contrast, vocalists tend to be extroverts. So in music, as in other activities, there are places for both.

On the night before the lecture, I brought out several outfits to wear. Art vetoed them. "You look like you are going to a funeral," he said. He was right. The long dark top and skirt would have helped me fade into the background - which is what I wanted to do. But with Katie putting her two cents in, I ended up wearing a knee-length black and white dress. It was a good choice.

But when 7 p.m. of the lecture day rolled around, I had to leave and go home. An extrovert would have stayed and hobnobbed, but I was emotionally drained.

And now I can begin doing it all again. Once again, I can begin working on the annual good/bad day. But it is really an excellent job for an introvert like me. Extroverts would work all year on the things they didn't like so they could have that one wonderful day - the day of the lecture. For me, I get to enjoy many days and only have to get through one. It's not too tough being green after all!

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