Recently I was sitting in my apartment, introverting all by myself and it occurred to me: I miss people. Not everyone, but some of the people for sure. I missed hugs – you know the kind that are accepted and acceptable, and that one doesn’t have to feel guilty about afterwards because they forgot about the two metre rule. For a while, under these so-called “quarantine” orders I thought about how my life hadn’t really changed much. It was an introvert’s dream! Not only were people not getting close to each other because they preferred it that way, but it was actively frowned-upon and there was even the possibility of fines if anyone got too close!
Finally, the world had caught up to what introverts had been saying (quietly inside our own heads) all along. Strangers – bad; Strangers – gross; Strangers—dangerous, keep your distance; Strangers – don’t go to parties where there might be some of them. And by-the-way, cousins you “haven’t seen since last Christmas, or was it the Christmas before? Or was it that family wedding?…it doesn’t matter, I don’t remember…” count as strangers now.
The world has been different to say the least, and today I’m exploring the idea that I might (somewhat) be an extravert and how I came to that realization. After all, none of us is any one thing all of the time, and this intrigues me to no end. How could a self-professed introvert somehow turn into an extravert? It’s another one of those quirks of humanity that makes living funny.
Early on in this situation, I had jumped into a role where I, unlike most, was leaving my apartment to go out and do essential work for the healthcare community to support them in staying safe. I had gone from mostly working at home all the time to being out and about on a daily basis, just like the old days when I had a job working for somebody else. It was a total reversal. I was super busy and going out to work five days a week, and my neighbours were staying at home.
Eventually, after several months, that contract ended and I was once again working from home building my business as business outside was opening up.
But not everything was opening up. One thing that became apparent was that under previous circumstances, while I was working from home I was going out now and again to work as well as to my public speaking clubs, the gym, and dancing. Most of which is not currently allowed. So I was seeing people on a semi-regular basis and I didn’t even realize it!
I wondered Hmmm…was I actually an extravert? I did like being around people sometimes. Not all strangers are bad, and I had faith that people washed their hands at least once a week. Dancing, public speaking and training are all outward-facing extraverted types of activities aren’t they?
There were other things I started to miss that I’m sure many of you can identify with. There was the once-every-few-months-in-person-dinner-and-catch-up-session with close girl friends, which didn’t happen. There were the “we would’ve had an impromptu birthday party, but…” situations, and the in-person events and meetings going online. And not that I spent every day at the gym, but with it being closed, the “I really want to go only because I can’t” funny thing that all humans get, crept in. As an introvert, I didn’t talk to anybody while I was working out (focus gets results), but a quick “hello” to the check-in staff was enough to get me going (that’s enough chit-chat stranger, I’m off to burn a ton of calories).
After a few weeks of this, I was starting to feel down. I wondered “what’s happening to me?” Was I bored, stressed-out, lacking drive and purpose, or simply done with the situation?” And then I got the opportunity to teach a class in person! And then another one (Appropriately physically distanced from one-another of course). The first one was only for an hour, but these people had never heard my jokes before, and they laughed! My goodness, it felt so good to hear a group of people laugh! I was having fun again and as I thought about it, it hit me: I had been missing my audience.
Does the fact that I missed my audience make me an extravert? Maybe, and maybe not. I think it speaks to a misconception about introverts people who just want to be alone and never talk to anybody, or that extraverts don’t benefit from having alone time themselves. Some days that might be true. It’s also true that introverts tend to prefer small groups to large ones and that we do like to be around people we find to be fun or interesting. It’s a spectrum as well. There are degrees of alone-ness. One day I might be missing my audience, see them and interact with some of them the next, and then the day after that be content (and probably need) to have time away from them. And there is such a thing as too much alone-time, which varies from person to person.
As I was thinking about all of these indicators that I may be an extravert, I wondered if I were to even sometimes go to the “other side”, would I be a traitor to other introverts. I hope not, then I really would be alone and that’s scary! Or is it…it depends on the day I guess.
You might think that these experiences have me asking myself “who am I?” and you’d be right, to the extent that I was saying “GASP! Am I an extravert now? Did I change? What’s happening to me?” Okay, that last one sounded a little extreme, but you get the picture.
I was worried that if I’ve turned into an extravert (or suddenly realized that I may have been one all along) would mean that I couldn’t write about introverts anymore and I’d lose all of my many fans (hmm…fans?) Do I have to switch teams, or change sides? I was also worried that I would be given the silent-treatment by my fellow introverts and then I realized that anyone is capable of giving somebody the silent treatment. The issue with the silent treatment is that I don’t really know that anyone is giving me the silent treatment because they didn’t ever call me in the first place! Plus, I’ve got things to do, like make lunch.
What is clear to me is that I’m evolving and adapting as a person and I hope that makes my funnier. If you find yourself questioning whether you are an introvert still, or maybe you’re an extravert and didn’t realize it until now, don’t worry that you’re possibly losing your sense of who you are. It’s probable that your preference for quiet will stay the same, and that you’re still willing to venture out into the noisy party once in a while.