I'm Not An Extrovert...OR Introvert
I've been told that I'm an extrovert for as long as I can remember. Even my Dad recently argued with me that I'm an extrovert. Sigh. It's a partial lie. I'm really not a 100% extrovert at all. But, you're outgoing, funny..... Sometimes. Other times, I'm a hermit who loves her alone time. In fact, my secret has been that I need alone time to recharge and be human again. Is that an extrovert?
To me, introvert and extrovert labels are black and white, and force us into being one dimensional. Psychologist Adam Grant believes that 50% of people are actually split - 'Introverted Extroverts' or ambiverts. That's me. A misdiagnosed extrovert for most of my life.
The problem is that being perceived as an extrovert has caused me relational issues. It's lead to expectations that I can't (read don't want to) live up to. Being the life of the party, always being 'on' in crowds and enjoying speaking in front of people (biggest anxiety trigger). This is definitely not me and honestly feels core level exhausting.
Here is what I know about myself. I like being with people, until I don't. I enjoy going out - at least when I feel like it. I love deep conversations that are meaningful, and I hate small talk- even though I'm supposedly good at it. That party sounds fun, until I don't want to go. I also love being home, curled up on my couch watching Netflix with my guy.
If you're thinking to yourself- hmmm- could this be me too? Let's see.
An introverted extrovert is described as*:
You are socially selective and know how to 'turn it on' and also how to fade away. Your preference is a small group or 1:1.
You need time alone to recharge after being with a group of people; yet too much alone time makes you feel lonely.
You don't struggle to make friends, but you struggle to keep up with them.
You don't like confrontation, but you will have a deep conversation one on one if need be.
Overall, you prefer texting vs calling, BUT you do have a few relationships where you're willing to talk on the phone.
You prefer meaningful conversations over small talk any day.
You are a good - avid listener and don't feel the need to talk just to hear yourself talk.
You make plans wanting to go out- but might change your mind last minute and just want to stay home.
*Loosing based on read research and CareerContessa
As I read this list again, I'm having many aha moments. I am the Queen of well made plans and then wanting to cancel out of them. Here's the inside scoop: The person that made the plans for a GNO really wanted to get together. Fast forward to the event/dinner/HH and I may not want to go, although I'll have a good time once I'm there. I'll also feel really guilty for not wanting to get together, because I genuinely like people!
Being an introverted-extrovert means living in the grey. Idealistically, the grey should have a lot more personal freedom, but I think it's full of challenges. It's not talked enough about, so we greys feel conflicting emotions. It's also tricky for the people around us to get a read on what we'll do. I know it's taken me many years and a lot of Google therapy to understand what was going on inside of me.
Why are IE's so tough for people to figure out? In general, people like labels and boxes, because they're neat and easier to define. True extroverts will usually jump at the chance to go to a party or even host one. That's consistent and predictable. Us greys aren't so easy to pinpoint, which makes up appear unpredictable and at times unreliable.
As an IE I have felt tremendous guilt for letting other people down. Whether it's having to reschedule or not being 'on' - I feel like I'm not living up to their expectations of me. The tricky part is remembering that someone else's expectations aren't my business. Expectations really are premeditated resentments AND we can have those resentments towards ourselves as well as others. That's why I love what author Glennon Doyle, says 'I will disappoint someone else before I will ever disappoint myself again.' Love it. Still easier said than done for my recovering people pleasing self.
Could the answer for us greys be grace? . Grace for ourselves, and asking for grace when others aren't quite understanding us. I believe it's also about sharing our truth - no matter how that may be perceived. Just maybe, if we can understand one another more deeply then we can extend and have more compassion and acceptance. So the next time you think someone is blowing you off or being aloof - ask them. They might just happen to be a grey, and might not even realize it.
Happy Grey Day! xox