Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
The other day I took Honey to the playground to train with the equipment. We practiced going over the suspension bridge, under the low platforms, and up the goofy, alternating staircase. After a few minutes I saw her ears perk up as she did a little dance. She had spotted a friend.
A large Border Collie was peering at us through the bushes with a frisbee in his mouth. His presence brought the fun back into the work we were doing.
Honey the Extrovert
I wasn’t surprised that seeing another dog would cause this reaction. One thing Honey and I have in common is that we’re both extroverts. We get our energy from being around others.
Of course we went over to say hello.
After a few quick sniffs, the Border Collie made it clear he was ready to catch the frisbee again. But he didn’t mind a bit if Honey wanted to tag along. So for the next few minutes, the dog’s person threw the frisbee in all directions while Honey raced alongside almost as if she was cheering her friend on. She never once went for the frisbee herself.
Every once in a while she’d zoom over to the man to get lovies as well. Honey is an all-species extrovert.
Walking with Kitty
Sometimes on our walks we encounter a black cat who lives the next block over. As soon as the cat sees us, she’ll cross the street to join us. Honey and the cat will say their hellos.
Honey has learned that even friendly kitties don’t appreciate play bows and dancing on the end of the leash. So Honey and the cat will gently touch noses, have a little sniff, and the cat will follow along on our walk for a few blocks.
Eventually, the cat will go off in another direction—usually while Honey is busy sniffing. Once Honey notices the cat is gone, she insists we retrace her steps to follow the cat’s scent. She misses her friend.
Honey has learned that even something as much fun as going for a walk is even better when you can do it with a friend.
An Extrovert at Work
Many people misunderstand what it means to be an extrovert. Being extroverted doesn’t mean that I never want to be alone. Or that I’m never awkward at parties where I don’t know many people.
It does mean that I get my energy from being around others.
Most weeks of the year I teach classes for first time home buyers. Classes start at 6:30 p.m. after I’ve already put in a full day’s work processing loans, going to meetings, and counseling clients one-on-one.
Sometimes I’m utterly dragging by the time 6:30 rolls around and I can’t imagine how I’m ever going to get through the next couple of hours. But the first student walks in the door and something switches on inside me. I become lively and entertaining (at least according to 7 years of class evaluations) and pour everything I have into teaching the best class I can.
This extroversion gene, or whatever it is, is so powerful that I once taught a class with a migraine that I forgot I had—until the last person left after asking questions and I promptly threw up in the bathroom.
Blogging as an Extrovert
I write a lot. I have for years. I have dozens of journals tucked away in a closet. For over a year, I was regularly posting to two blogs as well as writing occasional guest posts for others.
But writing is a very solitary pursuit. I’ve always looked for ways to make it more social.
I used to lead writing workshops in which I would give prompts to the participants who would write and then share about the experience or read what they had written.
And an important part of blogging is reading comments left on my posts and visiting other bloggers to comment on their sites. When I go through a stretch where I’m unable to read and comment on other blogs, I feel a strong sense of loss. Yes, it’s more than just guilt.
But I also feel a strong urge to meet, in person, the people I become friends with online.
Don’t worry. My lack of confidence and fear of being arrested for stalking prevents me from acting on those urges. So don’t expect I’ll just show up at your door one day. (Yeah, I heard that “psheww” of relief that echoed around the blogosphere.)
BlogPaws – Answer for Extroverted Blogging
The social side of my personality took me to BlogPaws last year in Virginia. Heck, if the only thing I had gotten out of attending was knowing the real identity of the clever, funny, and mysterious Pup Fan, it would have been worth it.
But I learned a lot and got to meet other wonderful bloggers. Among the most memorable were Elizabeth and her Cardigans Dewi and Jon Farleigh (yes, they have just as much personality in real life as Elizabeth conveys in her blog) and Sharon of Grouchy Puppy fame who brought a “virtual” representation of lovely senior dog, Cleo.
BlogPaws 2011 was held in Virginia and, as expected, attended mostly by bloggers from the Eastern United States. In 2012, it will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. So, in hopes of meeting more bloggers from the Western regions, I decided to attend.
Luckily, I was selected as a speaker and will be presenting with Robbi Hess. My topic? Finding Time to Blog. It was the big glaring hole in the presentation topics at BlogPaws and the one I was most interested in attending. It’s a matter of presenting the topic you most need to attend.
I’m really excited about presenting. It’s only occurring to me now how much I enjoy it and how I should make it a cornerstone of my professional life. And it balances the extroverted side of my personality with the introverted act of writing.
Working With Our Tendencies
I’m famous for always picking the hard way to do things. I have math anxiety and yet work with financial math every day and even teach it. I want to travel so I’ve decided to learn to sail instead of just buying a plane ticket.
But everything shouldn’t be hard. Sometimes we just need to go with our natures and not fight so hard.
For me, I can’t continue to blog unless I nurture the community that is so important to me. And for Honey, we need to mix social activities into the middle of our training/desensitization work together.
Maybe it’s time to ask my neighbors if I can start teaching their Golden Retriever, Riley, how to ride in a bicycle cart. After all, learning is always more fun with a friend, when you’re an extrovert.
[I’ll be posting more about BlogPaws soon. I can also provide a code for 20% off the conference registration fee. Contact me for more information.]