My sister and I send texts back that look like a secret code. Four letter combinations that might reveal all the evidence we know is true. Outside my studio window the remaining golden leaves stir. The light is milk, the sky overcast. I don’t need the Myers Briggs to confirm I’m an introvert. This much I’ve always known. Still the thing that’s been fascinating me lately, is the way that I can look back and see patterns of introversion and extroversion, in the same way you might look back over recorded periods of seismic activity, or weather patterns over decades, the heat maps charting summer highs and winter lows, hot vermillion and icy blue.
I’m not always an introverted introvert, but now more than ever I am. After a season of extroversion, all I want is to abide. To be quiet with my own thoughts, my laptop and notebook close at hand.
Inhale, exhale. Expand, contract.
It’s an curiously inverse equation in two parts: When I felt most extroverted and social last spring and summer, with always a friend to meet, or a gathering to attend, I was also most drained creatively. I was resistant to working on anything new, and felt heavy-handed and clumsy scribbling notes or sketches. I avoided reading. I let distractions claim me. I flitted. I wrote only at the surface of things, and let daily client work consume me as it may.
What I know is that I was exhausted at a cellular level still, after the intensely creative cycle that had just ended with publishing A Field Guide To Now, graduating with an MFA, and then moving into a year of working at a design studio here that was intense, if nothing else. During that productive time I was less social. I had coffee only with close friends, devoted my slim free time to family, and worked.
Naturally, when the studio began to downsize and I was let go, I was ready to also let go–and spent the next 2/3rds of the year exhaling. I extroverted. I made new friends and connected old ones to each other, and watched as the studio I’d left behind downsized and fragmented, proving that no one is exempt from these cycles–no brand or enterprise or individual.
At the apex of extroversion, I co-founded Superconductor, which, true to it’s name has been an opportunity to supercharge creative connections and facilitate other people’s potential: accelerating their brands and projects with a fertile mix of art and science, strategy and intuition that my partner and I bring to our approach. But with summer’s waning, our move, and all the ailments and near-misses we’ve had health-wise, I can feel the way things are almost literally inverting. A smaller house, a shorter commute, a closer range of focus. What was external is now being internalized. The wind bites cold in the morning. Daylight savings is this weekend. In a different time and place I would have said I was skirting around the edges of depression now, and maybe that is so. But I’ve also lived with myself long enough now to know: these are the tell-tale signs at the outset of a highly creative period. I have a book in my head. Above our house in the evenings crows flock in murders to the lake’s edge against a saffron sky.
I’m so curious: Has anyone else has felt these inverted equations of introversion paired with high creativity/productivity; and extroversion coupled with lower creativity/productivity?
What are the tell-tale signs that let you know where you are at in your own creative cycle?