Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life of a Blogger (2): An Introvert or an Extrovert?

Life of a Blogger is a weekly meme hosted on Thursdays by Jessi at Novel Heartbeat.

Before I delve into this week's Life of a Blogger topic, I just wanted to thank everyone who commented or contacted me after last week's post on the topic of future plans. Some of you were bloggers, some of you were readers, some of you were authors. I received such an outpouring of support, not just through comments here on the blog, but through email and Twitter. I wanted to let you all know how much it all meant to me. Last week's topic was a very personal one and there's always that risk you take when you share pieces of yourself that you normally play close to the vest. It was ultimately very freeing to put my feelings about things into writing, but the response I received from all of you was totally unprecedented, and I thank you all for making me feel like part of this community that I'm still new to, and also for making me feel supported by all of you from around the globe. It meant the world to me.

This weeks Life of a Blogger topic asks a question: Am I an introvert or an extrovert?

I think this is a really interesting topic because it has to do with not only how you see yourself but how other people see you.

If you ask my mother, who is admittedly painfully shy and reserved, she would tell you that I am an extrovert. 

I've never really acted as though I was afraid to talk to new people, even from a young age. I've always enjoyed activities where I could be in a spotlight, be it literal (ballet, dancing, singing, theatre) or figurative (being the Hermione-type figure in class who likes to answer questions). I was in a sorority in my first few years of college before I had to go emergency alumna when I took a break from school due to my joint conditions and necessary surgeries.

On that topic though, I think most of my sorority sisters would tell you that I'm an introvert.

I'm outgoing when I need to be and with certain people. I enjoyed going out to the bar or for dinner with a group of my sisters. I even went to a few parties, especially if it was for a special occasion. But when it came down to Greek Night or College Night at the bars near campus, that wasn't really my scene. I went less than ten times. I much preferred small group activities or doing things with my sisters one-on-one to large, crowded parties or anything like that.

Most of the cheerleaders I coach and the coaches that I work with would probably think I'm more on the extroverted side than the introverted side.

I coach cheerleading, though, and am always at extremely busy meets where spectators are packed like sardines into stands and fill gyms to the ceilings. I have no problem communicating with my whole team in a busy gym or being the leader.

So what am I REALLY?

I really consider myself to be an introvert. There are certain areas in my life where I am comfortable being outgoing, standing in the spotlight, and being outspoken. But doing those things takes great effort on my part and when I'm done with those things, I need time to recover.

It's physically and mentally exhausting for me to coach my cheerleaders every day, and it's not just because I have leukemia. It's because I'm in a gym with about 45 kids, four to five coaches (depending on the day), with loud music and loud voices and tons of external stimuli going on. When I finish my two and a half to three hours at the school each day, I NEED the 35-40 minute car ride home just to unwind and start to relax.

I love New York City with all of my heart and cannot wait there because I do actually enjoy the hustle, the bustle, the rhythm of the city, the endless potential, the way it is never the same from one day to the next, and the fact that almost everyone is always on the move. It's a city for those of us to who like to be busy and who don't like to sit still for too long.

But when I'm visiting the city, I like to stay up in the Fort Washington and Inwood area near the cloisters. And it isn't just because it's cheaper (which, BTW, it is). It's mostly because you can very quickly go from the overwhelming heart of the city to a place that's a lot quieter and a little more relaxed.

I love to go grocery shopping, but I hate to do go at times when there is lots of shopping traffic. One of my favorite English professors used to say "If you are one of those college students who is naive enough to still believe that you can change the world, perfect humanity, and attain world peace, I invite you to go grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon." And it's SO TRUE. Sunday afternoons at the grocery store are a nightmare. Or the grocery store right before a snowmageddon, which we've had like ten of this winter. Even if I do manage to do my grocery shopping on mid-morning on a Tuesday, I still need to come home and just lay down for twenty minutes afterwards. My mind is tired.

There are times when I can summon the spirit of an extroverted person, but only if it is on my terms and I love what I'm doing enough to gather that energy -- like teaching a skincare class or running a party for Mary Kay, coaching my cheerleaders, running a parent meeting, or being the girl in class who is always raising her hand with an answer.

But in-class presentations, especially ones where I have to depend on classmates in my group? I break out in hives. Having to take a speech class? I've been in school on and off for a long time now and I'm still trying to avoid that. Going to my high school reunion and pretending I want to be there? Yeah, right.

And there are two times when you should never, ever bombard me with information or questions or even really talk to me: The first 45 minutes I'm awake or the first 30 minutes after I get home from somewhere. I need to give my mind a change to detox or to wake back up, otherwise, I get panicky and cranky very fast.

My natural introverted-ness is why reading is one of my favorite hobbies, along with scrapbooking, and anything artsy that I can do by myself. It's why I've always HATED group projects and felt they were social torture. It's why I LOVED going to BEA with all my heart -- here were all these people sitting in lines in switchbacks to meet authors and get autographs, yet no one felt the awkward need to fill the silence or chat too much with the people around them. We were are totally content to sit and READ. It's why I love blogging.

So that's me -- an Introvert who occasionally appears Extroverted.

Which are you?



  1. I guess you CAN be a little bit of both and it just depends on the situation :) I'm more of an introvert definitely! :D

    My Life of a Blogger post

    1. I read a really interesting article on misconceptions about Introverts recently (I wish I could find it), but my mom always said she thought I was an Extrovert because I am a frequent participant in class, I like to perform, I'm talkative, etc., and that she had never considered me to be Introverted. But the thing is, I've always felt that way. I've always just felt that there are certain settings where I was comfortable and where I loved something enough to push the boundaries of my Introverted bubble.

      The article basically said what I'd always felt. I was a frequent class participant because I have always been comfortable in school and I've always done well in school, so I've never had any reasons not to feel uncomfortable in that sort of setting. But the second I leave a classroom, it's iPod on, book out, and I rarely make friends in class. And I hate group work. I liked to perform because I was doing it with people who were my friends and that I'd been with for a long time or in the case of dancing, I was comfortable with what I was doing, confident in my teacher, etc. So my bubble expanded to fit those things. But when I would go on auditions for dance, I would be clumsy and forget combinations we'd learned and sometimes look as if I'd never danced a day in my whole life. It took me forever to get to the point I was at when I auditioned in college -- and I think I got lucky that day because I was actually horribly sick, so I wasn't concentrating on how nervous I was, but on just getting through it and trying not to pass out. It was the best audition I ever had.

      So think as Introverts, when we are used to a situation or when we really love something, our comfort zone expands -- but it can shrink back down almost immediately, as soon as we feel like a fish out of water again.