Introvert

Shy.  Bashful.  Awkward.  Introverted.  I’ve been puzzling over these designations lately, particularly in regard to myself and to my oldest child.

I have a long background in social services so I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test many times and have always ended up with the INFP label.  Whenever the test has been described to me, the concept of introversion seems more layered than how it’s widely understood.  Here, let’s let wikipedia take over for a moment:

In Western popular usage, Extraverts (also spelled extroverts[1]) are thought to be gregariousassertive, and interested in seeking out external stimulus. Introverts, in contrast, are seen as introspective, quiet and less sociable. They are not necessarily loners but they tend to have a smaller number of friends. Introversion does not describe social discomfort but rather social preference: an introvert may not be shy but may merely prefer fewer social activities.

The last sentence is what I find myself hung up on.  I identify strongly with all descriptions of introversion except that I feel like what I experience does actually include social discomfort along with social preference.  Perhaps I have some social anxiety along with simply being an introverted person?  Another possibility is that the wikipedia definition means that social discomfort is not present in all situations and that social preference is what dictates whether the discomfort is present or absent.

We just had a flurry of really fun performances for St. Patrick’s Day and I enjoyed almost every minute of it but it is taking me a lot longer than usual to bounce back and I’m puzzling over how performing saps me emotionally at least as much as it does physically.  I don’t mean this in a negative way.  I absolutely love performing with the band.  It’s very fulfilling for me and I don’t think I would be as happy a person without at least this amount of performing in my life.  As enjoyable as it is, it is very hard.  Not so much in the moment, but for the days following.

Luckily for me, I have some people in my life who are restorative to my soul.

The Fabulous Baking Boys

3 responses to “Introvert

  1. I’ve regularly been labeled ENFP, but my E is just barely over the line. How I think about it, from my own experience, is in terms of what sort of activities give me energy and which take it. Multiple social activities involving a lot of people I don’t know exhaust me and it takes me a while to recover. But I also am energized by being around close family and friends and often get sad, bored, or tired when isolated for too long. I find all this stuff fun to think about. . .

  2. That’s supposed to be a good sign, being just over the line. From what I understand, the most mentally healthy people are those that are closest to the middle point of the equilibrium.

    Another part of it that I’ve been thinking of is how we as a society tend to reward certain aspects of personality and shame other aspects. I’ve often mentioned to people that I’m an introvert and had them try to convince me that I’m not, as though on some level it’s an unappealing quality.

    I see it in the boys too: Atticus getting positive attention (often from strangers) for being gregarious and Liam getting snubbed for being shy. It really is interesting to think about. Thanks for responding, Kenda!

  3. Carol Spangler

    Hi, Tara. Me too! I have always been an introvert, including social awkwardness and anxiety. I’m having to learn to just accept it in myself. My mother is just the opposite of me in this regard, and I have always thought she would like to change me. It makes it hard!

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