Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or an ambivert?
I don't know about you, but I've struggled with this question many times over the years. Because, honestly, it's often difficult to be an introvert in an extremely connected and social world. I had mostly forgotten that for the majority of my childhood and schooling that I was, in fact, an introvert. Being around social gatherings, while fun if I knew a good portion of people, was quite stressful. I remember always having this running dialogue in my head consisting of rather unhelpful and often shaming thoughts. Don't do that; why did you do this; oh no, now they are looking at me...I couldn't win. Still can't, sometimes.
I was able to better embrace my introversion during my early years but as I got older the message that being social was a requirement became a heavy burden to bear. Once we moved I had a real chance to reinvent myself and reinvent myself I tried. I was still an introvert, I had a wonderful amount of alone time and I was attending a tiny private school, but I forced myself to be social and bubbly. After settling in to our new town I was greeting all the new kids at school and always excited to get together with friends. I was a whole new me...at least to the outside world. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. The world was opening up to me and I was beginning to drink the extroversion Kool-Aid.
College was an adventure. I traveled nearly across the US to attend a university where I happened to know only one other student. I once again needed to rely upon my recently acquired extrovert skills, even in my dorm room with my roommate. I had never roomed with anyone before and it was a rather large shock. Thankfully we got along well once we ironed out the kinks (and there were some stubborn ones...) The biggest extrovert lesson I remember learning in college was after realizing that my friends hadn't invited me out on a number of occasions. The subtext amounted to me marching to the beat of my own drummer. And that, to me, translated to I'm not outgoing, social or available enough.
The more this exile goes on the more I wonder how I can keep parts of it when the world goes back to "normal." I feel extremely guilty, sometimes, when I want life to be more like it has been the last year plus. I am absolutely loving my newfound time, working remotely and just being able to get some me time. Of course I want to be able to see friends, but I've also realized that I'm an introvert. Really, I've known for years but I just didn't want to accept it. Also, I couldn't really accept it, because I needed the extrovert energy just to make working onsite every week day and seeing friends work for me. But that was all under the surface. Another lie I was telling myself. I could be an extrovert, everything is fine here...how are you!?
So I plan to honor my introvert going forward. I will ease back towards "normal," but it will most definitely not be the same "normal." And that is more than OK by me. To my friends, I love you...but maybe not so close to me so frequently. A good number of friends are also rather introverted so we likely will have an understanding...after we get through the whole we get to see our friends in person!? stage of the after times.
—A Recovering Design Imposter
PS. I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain back in August and I found it useful to read how I as an introvert could still be a part of the world, still useful. It was a message that countered the message I got early on that extroverts seemingly rule the world. Gotta be one to get by or win at life…
PPS. I am so over giving up my current happiness for an uncertain future, I choose happiness and joy now, not as a dream of the future I may never find.
PPPS. The drawing is of Tabat, my spirit animal/guide. Those who know me well shouldn't be surprised as I am basically a cat in human form...the drawing is very recently available on my art shop here!