I am an introvert. I never thought I was when I was younger, in fact every personality test I took told me otherwise. I was an extrovert with a capital ‘E’ and was proud of it.
This may seem confusing to the people who know me. I’m very outgoing and can talk to anyone. I don’t have any problem speaking in front of groups, can dance at any point in time, and will lead a spontaneous conga line happily – regardless of who’s around. I’m the opposite of a wallflower.
I think this is why I was certain I was an extrovert. When questions would pop up like – Can you be the life of the party? I would reply with yes. Are you shy in front of people you don’t know? Nope. And so on and so forth.
And then I learned about a personality type I never knew existed before. One that made much more sense to me. I don’t know if this is an official type, or if someone like myself who seemed to fall into the gap between ‘E’ and ‘I’ made it up, but when I read the title alone with no explanation of what it even was – something in my soul screamed, YES! That’s me!
I am an extroverted introvert.
What does this mean? This means that I love my people, and I don’t mind large groups – but I need my space.
This means I need to space out my social interactions carefully, or else I will be worn and depleted. I enjoy talking and visiting, but seem to have an expiration time on how long I can be social.
This means that as we talk about releasing some restrictions – I feel a bit anxious. I enjoy seeing the people I care for, but don’t want to give up what I’ve gained in this space. I like this new pace of life. I love that I don’t lose hours everyday with my husband because of his commute. I enjoy hearing the kids interact with each other, even if it does get dicey sometimes. I like this pace and the rhythm we have fallen into as a family. I enjoy waking up when my body says it’s time and not hearing the alarm blaring every morning.
This means as the Zoom calls and online communication increase, so does my stress. It’s not that I don’t love seeing my friends, because I do. My relationships are incredibly important to me and bring an immense amount of joy to my life. I could not imagine doing life without my people. But just like I would space out actual social gatherings when we used to physically get together – I also need to space out the online commitments. I want to see my people – just not all of the time. If I spend an entire day on the phone, FaceTiming and Zooming, I go to bed wiped out.
This also means I’ve actually had more moments of feeling guilty about not being social during this time than I did when we could get out and go places. Right now, we know everyone is home. We know people don’t have plans, and if they do, they are limited. And because of this, I feel guilty when I’m not available to pick up the phone or hop on the Zoom call.
Does this mean if I have a friend who is going through something, or having a hard day, that I’m not available for them? No way. If I don’t answer, just send me a text and let me know it’s important and I will be there. But if I don’t know that, I may not answer. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s just that I have reached my max outside-of-my-family social interaction for the day. There are six people in my family, and sometimes I reach that max capacity fairly early on.
Another thing I am learning during this time at home is that regardless of whether we are introverted or extroverted, life is still busy. Isn’t it?
It’s a different kind of busy, but there is still plenty going on from day to day. With everyone staying under one roof all of the time, there are more meals to make, more dishes to wash and the house definitely doesn’t stay tidy, or clean, for as long as it used to – if it all. There are still chores to do and on top of that, there is now at-home learning taking place, or some form of it at least. I am still working some, and now my husband is working from home, too. Our reality is different than it used to be, but the days still seem to be flying by.
This time at home in social isolation seems to be highlighting that which I believed to be true even more – I’m an extroverted introvert. To my extroverted friends out there, my behavior may not always make sense. I hope it doesn’t come off like I don’t want to talk, or that I’m not looking forward to hanging out again, because I most definitely am. I just need to continue to maintain the balance of my time at home with my family and my time connecting on devices. Because if I don’t set boundaries with my time – I am grumpy and stressed and not so pleasant for my family to be around.
One of the gifts of aging, is we become more comfortable and confident in who God created us to be. And this time in social isolation has only solidified what I had believed in my heart to be true – I am an extroverted introvert. When the time comes to see my friends again, I will be there smiling and happy to be with everyone, but a part of me will miss the time at home with my family – even if we’ve had all this time together. Because this time at home together has refreshed my soul.
Spoken like a true introvert. An extroverted introvert to be exact.