I have always thought of myself as an extrovert – it even said so on the score of the Jung and Briggs Myers personality tests that I took back in high school. I still remember the four letters meant to describe me and hopefully the type of job I would be suited for – ENFP or Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling and Perceptive.
But Saturday, the author Anna DeStefano said something that made me reconsider myself. She referred to herself as a ‘highly social introvert’. Hmmm!
First, hearing her call herself an ‘introvert’ seemed odd. She was so charismatic, well spoken, comfortable, funny and articulate. She encouraged us to talk to her after the presentation, and stayed to autograph her books for us. She was not at all the type of person that I think of as an introvert. She just exuded a very positive and friendly demeanor which drew us all in as I have only known extroverts to do. But then, even she qualified her self-description by adding the phrase – ‘highly social’ to it.
Clearly we were all looking at her strangely as she described most writers as introverts. This couldn’t possibly include her. And yet she said, “There’s a reason we like to sit in a dark room all by ourselves and write.”
Although she had a fantastic personality, and she knew how we perceived her, she said it depleted her to give away so much energy even though she thoroughly enjoyed it! Afterwards, she would need a couple of days of quiet and solitude to refill her tank. And that’s when the light bulb in my brain kicked into full sonic flare.
I am very outgoing, make friends easily, can talk to perfect strangers, will travel anywhere at anytime, and love getting to know people. But I need what I call ‘buffer days’. I don’t want to return from a trip on Sunday and go back to work on Monday. I’d rather take Monday off to restore myself or return on Saturday. When I have a busy weekend where there is little down time – like this weekend – I feel drained. I love to have parties but they completely exhaust me, so much so that I have stalled in the entertaining area of my life. And really, all I want to do, is sit with my thoughts and characters and weave a spell on paper. That doesn’t sound very much like an extrovert now does it?
So I’m seeing myself through a new lens today. Maybe I, like Anna, am not really an extrovert at all, but a highly social introvert.
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I can buy that.