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05 December 2014

The introvert bubble

You may remember how much I love personality tests. In particular, the Jung Typology Test, which defined me as an ISFJ (Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging). I remember reading the results completely awestruck because (highly, highly recommend taking the test - here)

I've been thinking a lot about the introverted aspects of my personality. I don't believe that we're all so clearly and easily categorised into categories made to categorise us. However, I do think that, more often than not, generalisations hold a lot of truth. I am a classic introvert in that I recharge from within. I read somewhere that extroverts need to spend time with people in order to be able to spend time alone and introverts need to spend time alone in order to be with people. We recharge our batteries during the time we spend alone. And we're rarely bored if left with ourselves! I've always enjoyed the time I spend with myself (esp with a good book!) and kept a journal for many years. Thinking about it now, almost every party I attended as a youngster (and sometimes even now) I felt like an outsider and I just did what I had to do until I could go home and unwind. Having said that, I also enjoy big parties and meeting people and spending time with a few close people who recharge me. That in itself is an introverted trait - choosing a few close friends wisely who actually add to your energy rather than diminish it.

I've also been thinking about the difference between extroverts and introverts. And here's an example. As an introvert, when you're in a bad mood, you want to retreat into yourself. The opposite of what an extrovert would do. Which means that when you're in a bad mood and an extrovert is around you, they come to comfort you, which doesn't work. In fact, it may cause more anguish. And vice versa - when I am around an extrovert who needs some comforting, my immediate thought is "sort yourself out" and then I try to go and make a coffee and get away from the situation where I'm needed to comfort that person. It's not very kind of me, is it? I believe there are two reasons for this. Firstly, as an introvert, I tend to try and figure out my problems and why I'm feeling like I am privately. I'm fairly pragmatic when it comes to getting things done. When I'm feeling unwell, I take medication, entertain myself and wait until I get better. Of course I want someone to make me soup and bring me coffee, but I guess I sometimes prefer not to attract more attention by asking for help. Secondly, I remove myself from situations where I'm needed emotionally because it drains my energies, and my priority is self-perseverance.

I've really come to realise this truth recently. I prioritise self-perseverance, and sometimes it comes across to others as being selfish. I do care for a lot of things, and I think about them when I'm alone or I show my care towards them very materialistically, giving the impression that my care doesn't scratch the surface. But I do care. And at the same time, I can't risk negative emotional equity. It's very difficult to come out of.

I am prone to giving too much and then setting the expectations on myself too high. I deliver, I deliver and then I'm in the situation where those around me don't realise how much effort it takes to do those things that I've been doing. And then I am suddenly expected to do so many different things and my time to myself is relegated to the bottom of my personal to-do lists and before I know it, I am exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. Sometimes people think that I don't make the time or that too much is being expected of me. But it's not that. It's that even that little extra effort requires super human strength. It's just too much. 

To recharge you need to be alone. Sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours and sometimes for days. On those days that you can't be truly alone, the recovery takes longer, making the whole ordeal seem worse and making you seem like an exceptionally selfish person. It's like when you get the flu. You get better quicker by staying at home for 2 days than braving it for 2 weeks. Sometimes, finding those 2 days for recovery are a luxury, and that's the truth. So you come up with coping mechanisms. You convince yourself that some stressful tasks are actually therapeutic (like blow drying your hair - not therapeutic at all if you ask me!). And you get by slowly until you get a chance to have that recharge you so crave. 

So that's my take on being an introvert. And I'm sorry it's quite a sombre subject...I have a suspicion I'll revisit this subject sometime in the future so forgive me for the pensive thoughts. And I do wish I understood extroverts better, so that I could emphasise when they are going through the equivalent in their eyes instead of coming across as cold. 

It's been a long year. I was all hopeful about 2014, but I'm not going to miss it much if I'm honest. I'm looking forward to 2015. Be kind to us. 


*the photo can be found on Unsplash, where you can use photos for free.

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