Confessions of an Introverted Extrovert

One day I told my therapist, “I JUST WANT TO BE ALONE.”

She replied, “I can’t believe I never noticed this before. You are an introvert.”

I am? Sure enough, she was right. I am an outgoing introvert, which I think makes me an introverted extrovert.

Most people describe me as an outgoing but I’m actually quite shy and often feel out of place. My therapist defined an introvert as someone who gets energy from within themselves, not from external factors such as a social environment. That is undeniably true.

Confession #1: Silence is my weapon

When Josh and I started dating I was very unsure…of everything. He embodied all the characteristics of a perfect boyfriend. I wanted to keep him interested. But he was a lot cooler than me (still is!) and I was certain that I must not fit in with his friends. I won him over, but making friends with his friends seemed impossible.

My response was to stay quiet. Silent, in fact, for a few years.

Eventually I got over myself and now I can’t shut up.

Confession # 2: The first meeting is the worst

That time between “Hi, I’m Jill” and the moment I find common ground with someone is alarming. My brain says, “Don’t be a bitch, don’t insult anyone, and for goodness sake don’t be BORING…wait, what was the person’s name again???”

The worst questions are: what do you do? what’s new?

WHAT’S NEW? Let’s see: are you interested in potty training? Temper tantrum control tactics? That I knit something I’m wearing? How my FIOS isn’t working properly? About my most recent attempt to stuff a pill down my cats throat? How I have 50 pairs of shoes but primarily wear Birkenstocks or clogs?

Confession #3: I fake it

I can usually connect with people but I still dread the get-to-know-each-other-phase. Maybe it’s because I’m not great at small talk. Or maybe it’s because I feel like wall flower in large crowds.  When in doubt I revert to silence (see confession #1 ) or  I fake it.

Like the time I started a new job and my first day was a company team-building event. Scariest work day ever. I was surrounded by a hundred new faces all wondering “who is the new girl” and I knew I had one shot to make an impression.

So I faked it. I summed up the courage to proactively introduce myself, crack jokes, and participate in the event. To this day my manager (now friend), doesn’t believe that (a) I faked it (b) I was terrified (c) I’m an introvert.

Confession #4: I prefer to be alone

I love to be around people — especially that fantastic group of people known as my family and that other group of fun people known as my friends. But I have a strong, natural desire to be alone. I need quiet time to relax, regroup, and rejuvenate.

This is a common trait of introverts as described in True Facts About the Introvert

“Contrary to popular belief, introverts do enjoy social interaction. They simply require less of it than their more boisterous extroverted cousin. As such the introvert seeks out the company of a few select people, also dogs and cats”

That explains A LOT.

 So which is it? Introvert? Extrovert?

I’m still a little baffled about which camp I belong to so I’ll make up a new word: IntroExtroVertedness.

In.tro.ex.tro.vert.ed.ness

Noun. Adjective. Verb. (with made up words we have the luxury of using them in really interesting ways)

1. The state of mind of an outgoing, friendly person who wants to get past the newlywed phase of relationships quickly; Enjoys days of solitude.

Use it in a sentence: Her IntroExtroVertedness really shines through in this blog.

Final Confession: I love to blog

Blogging is great. I can write when I feel extroverted, about how I feel introverted, when I am all alone. I can read my words carefully to make sure I don’t violate anything mentioned in Confession #2. I can share without subjecting myself to immediate reaction. And I thrive when people make comments.

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7 thoughts on “Confessions of an Introverted Extrovert

  1. Janet Chung says:

    On faking it: On my first day at one of my first jobs out of college, I was trying so hard not to be quiet. Apparently I had diaherra of the mouth telling a vacation story that I guess was too long, too detailed and too boring for my co-workers. I got made fun of a few weeks later, “…remember that long story Janet told us on her first day of work and how we were kicking each other under the table!” That shut me up for years. I have thick skin but that struck a super sensitive chord of mine and shut down any possibility of my extroverted side of me coming out with these people. So unfortunate.

    I’m glad you’re funny, approachable, extremely smart, fun to be around, strategic, well-respected, my favorite manager ever…and an Introvert. Although our organization seems to reward extroverted behavior, I feel like my best work, clearest thinking, and zaniest ideas are born out of the quiet I have to create for myself to re-energize. Go figure.

    And by the way, my vacation story rocked. The people I worked with were just a bunch of losers.

    • jillshaul says:

      As the person that inspired this blog I am thrilled you responded. I was careful not to name you as the inspiration so as not to offend your introvertedness (new word!)

      Embarrassing moments have the same affect on me. It’s like an auto-muzzle. And that team was lame. Your stories are always engaging.

      What’s most exciting is that I’m your favorite manager ever! I see evidence of how thinking time leads to your best ideas which is why I’m always telling you to stop over-committing 🙂 I might have to write a team-inspired blog on how to say no gracefully.

  2. also looks like introverts are honest 🙂 candid and refreshing post Jill…keep that keyboard running !

  3. Rae says:

    This is me to a tee

    • jillshaul says:

      That must be why we get along so well! (among other things). I found out from someone with a much larger vocabulary there is already a word to describe us: Ambivert – one whose personality type is intermediate between extrovert and introvert.

  4. […] or not in my PTA. So far I’ve been welcomed with open arms. But as someone who is often shy and a total introvert (yes, it’s TRUE) I can only guess that this cliqueyness is rooted in some social awkwardness that […]

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