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) are thought to be gregarious, assertive, 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.