I can’t help that I’m an introvert.
I once took a personality test. Not anything crazy accurate like Myers-Briggs, but a simple school psych questionnaire that I volunteered for because my sister needed test subjects. There were numerous columns holding groups of positive or negative description words that I had to choose from to describe myself. Jeez, those freakin’ tests suck. I am probably the worst person to describe myself because I do not see myself clearly. Course, neither does anybody else.
I guess we are all just perspectives when you get right down to it.
When I took this test, I made sure to mark creative, messy, loyal, smart ass et cetera. But when I read the word introvert, I paused. It was placed in a column along with various other words constituting weaknesses.
I’ll admit it. I was offended. I had check-marked smart ass…so I also told everyone I was offended. How could a societal psych test that reached probably thousands of people at the least, rightfully list introvert as a negative aspect of a personality? They might as well say I will never be smarter than the average bear because I am blonde. Currently. (I have a hair color changing problem. Is there a picture on my page? That’s not what I look like anymore.)
Incognito notation aside, I do not think that introversion should be listed as a major personality weakness. If you disagree with me, stop reading right now because I am going to do my best to offend you.
Nah. Just kidding. If you’re reading this then I like you.
Growing up, I was a quiet, oblivious kid utterly average in every way. Once I got old enough to think, incorrectly, that average didn’t win you friends, I started losing any natural confidence I possessed. Just a typical sob story of a preteen, I know.
When I turned fourteen, I met a girl. In my eyes, she was the epitome for living life to its fullest. This girl was funny, confidant, loud, shameless and she attracted people like a dumpster attracts raccoons, or flies, or whatever other creature would make this analogy seem the opposite of what I’m going for. This girl had the best damn-the-world attitude I had ever seen and I envied her it because it made people stop and watch.
I thought, if only I could be more like her. Me, myself and I started forming a plan to make this happen. I had no idea at this point that I had natural tendencies towards certain personality traits, no idea that becoming a loud, upbeat, abrasive type of person might actually work against me.
Any information I had on extroversion and introversion was minimal, and like any teenage, didn’t apply to me. To sum it up in one sentence using an over appreciated cliché that doesn’t explain anything, extroversion is an inclination to feel at home in a crowd, while introversion is the inclination to feel alien in a crowd.
So many people long to be the type of person that takes life by the gonads and drags it along on all sorts of adventures. At fourteen years old, I thought I was flawed because I had a hard time raising my hand in class. I thought I needed to change because others said their thoughts aloud while I kept mine to myself. I thought I was broken because I was an introvert.
I so badly yearned for a shift in my own personality, that I worked for years to perfect the outward appearance of an extrovert. I did my best to portray only a specifically crafted portion of myself. In some aspects of my life, it worked like I planned, in others it at least gave me the confidence I needed to play it off for awhile.
For years, I did this. My husband married an extrovert. When things in my life settled into the routine of adulthood, I slowly started to realize where I had erred in this grand scheme.
I asked a question online to friends. Am I an introvert or an extrovert? It was, roughly, half and half. Nobody seemed to know, least of all me. My own mother told me that I was a true contradiction because so often my physical responses were different from my verbal ones and my worldview clashed with my impulses. To this day, I have no clue what I will wake up as. Perhaps today I will go skydiving with a group of friends and then out to the city to make an evening of it. Perhaps today I will stay inside alone, because the thought of facing other people terrifies me.
I started writing like an addict during this time, which solidified one thing. I was an introvert. No matter what I had attempted years to dissolve, my core personality is introverted. Any variant is a habit, nothing more. And as with every habit, if it is not encouraged it will fade into oblivion. No, I am not saying that every writer is introverted, though it does take a little something to sit by yourself for hours with only the voices in your head to play with.
My husband asked me one day shortly after we married what happened to the girl he fell in love with. He didn’t ask in a mean or spiteful way. Let me assure you, my husband adores me as much as I do him. But he was curious and probably a little concerned at the obvious withdrawals in me. Withdrawals that were nothing more than me being alone, processing the world. And yet, they were something he wasn’t used to. And why would he be? I was an extrovert. I was a doer, not a thinker.
I answered that I didn’t think that girl ever really existed.
I was sad. He was sad. We moved forward.
One morning two-ish years after our wedding day, he woke me up and showed me a video he found on being an introvert in this world. He laughingly told me that this was obviously me. The world suddenly seemed beautiful. My husband loved me, even though sometimes I liked to sit alone while he would always choose to immerse himself amongst people. Shortly thereafter, I found a book by a woman named Susan Cain titled, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
You should read it. Don’t put it on your list. Read it now. Like, go. Now. I will wait….
Once I realized that I had strengths that didn’t involved lying to myself and everyone around me, my world became clearer every day. For years I functioned as an extrovert, exhausting myself in what felt like a never-ending cycle of throwing my body against walls and shouting about how fun it was. Now I can utilize the best of both worlds. Head out with friends, recharge alone. I can do this because I comprehend what is happening in my own mind.
To know me, one must understand that I am an outgoing introvert, and a solitary extrovert. Sometimes, I am a contradiction and that is okay.
Let me know what you think.
Also, here is the video my husband found that made us both realize how natural being an introvert is!