I have recently self-identified as an extroverted introvert. Whenever I take personality tests, I seem to fall right in the middle of “extrovert” and “introvert”. I’m an extrovert because I talk a lot, actually enjoy being around people, love meeting new people and am not shy.
However, I need a lot of recovery time. Even when I was small, I wanted to be able to close the door and be by myself. I spend a lot of time reading and writing, both of which are solitary activities. I can happily spend hours alone, and love going to the movies by myself. Even though I talk a lot when people are around me, I can spend hours (or a day or two) in complete silence. The idea of having people around me all the time makes me feel panicky.
I’ve noticed that this extroverted introvert tendency comes up often in my life. I’ve never been a person who has one group of friends. I have always had close friendships with individuals who have never met each other. I think I have a lot of friendships, because I seem to be contacted or contact people frequently. I get invited to a lot of weddings and often have visitors coming to town. I can travel to other cities and have a number of people to see. However, I think this diversity and number of friends and acquaintances means that I don’t always see people as much as I would like to. I’m trying to spend time with a variety of people, while still maintaining my own need for solitude. In Edmonton, I have one friend who I see on a regular basis, and other friends who I see on a lesser basis.
Another factor in this is the high value that I place on accomplishing work related goals. Work (which can mean my job or my writing work and all its accompaniments), often comes before socializing. This means that during busy periods, I will often choose to work and then spend time alone rather than socialize, or I will socialize less. However, if I completely isolate myself, my mood will plummet, which is not a good thing either. It’s a very delicate balance for me. I started thinking about this when I was writing essays for the National Post at home over the Halloween weekend, when most people were probably out partying.
So here is a message for those who I don’t see as often. It’s not that I don’t want to see you. It’s just that I am either choosing to work, or have to balance my own need for alone time with my need for people time. It’s a learning process for me, and always will be.