Every so often I get the idea in my head that I’m going to take the Myers-Briggs personality test again. You know, the ESFP or INTJ, etc. I don’t know why I do it. I’ve taken it loads of times. I can never remember what I was before or if I came out differently this time.
And the funny thing is I hate that test. Every time I’m done with it I just roll my eyes. Because it makes you choose one side or the other. Black and white, no gray. Like thinking vs. feeling. For me that’s a very close call that changes from one time to the next. The only thing I always get the same is the J because I’m not really very spontaneous.
One of the other ones where I vacillate a bit is the Introvert vs. Extrovert.
And it has me questioning what I know about those things. Because I thought for years I was a strong introvert. I stayed home on weekends. I read books. I enjoyed small groups. I hated chit chat. I longed for deep, personal connections. I hated parties.
But the last few times I filled out one of those tests, it asked me about wanting to do stuff, wanting to talk to people, wanting to go places and I realized that things were different. Sure, I wanted deep, personal connections and I hated crowds. But I no longer wanted to spend my nights with a book. I wanted to go out and meet people and do things and have fun.
I’ve been trying to figure out what changed. And I don’t know if I changed or if everything around me changed instead.
Now I go hang out with my blogger friends and I’ve become the person who knows everyone. How did this happen? Since when am I the center of any social circle? I’ve always been the person fluttering around on the outside longing to get in and be needed. I introduce people, I tell people who they should meet, I give cute little bios when new folks get together. I don’t care if I’m on the end of the table or in the middle since I’m able to make myself at home either way.
I wonder if it’s having kids or being at home so much. Or maybe it’s just the combined effects of so many years of a nonexistent social life. I didn’t go out much when I was young. And after I finished school I lived in places where I hardly knew anyone. Having a social calendar and people I can hug and say hi to is such a weird new thing for me.
I do feel like I fit in for the first time. And I’m a natural loudmouth, so those naturally give me some strong extrovert tendencies these days. Some people may never guess I’m an introvert if it weren’t for the fact that I sit around at home writing meditative posts like this one to post on the internet.
I’ve been wondering, though, if this extrovert/introvert thing isn’t more something I just am rather than a tug of war in my head.
I want to connect. I want to have something in common with people. I want to laugh with them. I want to share stories.
But. I find that even when I’m with people I’m close to and comfortable with and having great conversation, it takes very little for me to find myself feeling like an outsider withdrawing into my shell again. As much as I want to be the same, I can’t avoid differences.
It’s hard being around any talk of toddlers. I wonder if some day this will be easier, if maybe Tessa will have a normal toddler-hood and I’ll no longer feel like there’s so much I missed. Graham is great now and it’s much easier if we talk of big boys in preschool, but those lost and low days still hang heavy on me, heavier than I realize.
Our family is still in the lean years. We don’t have a house. I can’t even have more than one or two people over to my apartment without it feeling crowded. We get our groceries with coupons and our clothes on clearance. It can feel like I’m stepping into another life when I step into another person’s house. (This weekend I met up with a group of totally new people who live very close to us and was amazed that we could be so geographically close while we live in our small apartment and they live in a regular house.)
And there’s plenty more. Sometimes it goes both ways. I’ll feel like the only stay-at-home parent among working parents. I’ll feel like the only parent who’s worked among long-time stay-at-home parents.
It feels like my mind constantly sticks to whatever it is that makes me different. Is it habit? Instinct? Whatever it is, it makes me feel like I’ll never shake off that introvert who insists that I’m not really comfortable being the social butterfly that I’ve been lately.
When it comes down to it, though, I can’t complain much. I have been more social in the last year than I’ve ever been in my life. I owe so much to the Boston Parent Bloggers, the Boston Brunchers, my online communities, my fellow Autism parents, my Twitter friends, and loads of people online who’ve made me their friend and a part of their circle. Lord knows my blog isn’t big enough that they’re just trying to kiss up to me.
If I’m an extrovert these days I’ll happily take that title and wear it around for a while and see how it feels. So far it feels pretty good.