Am I really an extrovert? I teeter back and forth between believing I’m an extrovert and an introvert. I have always thought of myself as 50:50. I remember “trying” to be an extrovert in college and feeling the anxiety build with every social encounter as time went on. After a certain point, I decided to stop engaging socially because my expectations of myself around others got too high. I became resentful of myself and what I was allowing to happen. Now, as I get into my thirties, I find myself feeling less pressured to talk, engage, and “perform” socially. Maybe this is why I feel more comfortable saying I’m an introvert, because it takes the pressure off of the need to engage with others. The truth is, I won’t engage with anyone unless I have a legitimate reason to. Call it getting older and less tolerant, but I just don’t want to have frivolous conversations that don’t lead somewhere – interactions that I don’t learn something from or which are not inspiring in some way. My partner says I’m “just anti-social”, but I believe it’s partially a deep-seated fear of not being accepted; it’s also me choosing not to invest time with people that are probably not going to add value to my life and vice versa. For some reason, I want to be sure I’m going to be able to make a contribution, even in the smallest interactions. If I don’t see a “bigger reason” for putting out my energy, then I just won’t. That is why I believe it takes more and more effort for me to engage with people overall. I’ve become more selective about where I focus my energy, which comes in waves, as if it has a mind of its own.
I was a child and family counselor for many years, and I found it rewarding, yet entirely draining. It didn’t feel okay to be so exhausted at listening to people talk about the most tragic parts of their lives. I was always astounded at how much people would reveal to me about themselves when they became aware that I was actually authentically interested in knowing them. It came to a point, though, that I would wake up every morning and absolutely hate my life. Pushing myself to stay in that position caused me to burn out almost beyond repair, that is until my own family tragedy pushed me completely over the edge. So, to make a long story short, I’m still not sure if I’m an extrovert or introvert. I feel it will always depend on the situation. If I HAD to choose the best thing about being an extrovert, though, it would be that my being extroverted manifests itself as a true curiosity for knowing about others, which often leads to positive relationships. On the other hand, I’d say the hardest part of being a curious cat would be that I open myself up to exposure to those dark parts about people, which is not pleasant at all, and which in turn makes me reflect on my own darkness. I could go on but I’ll leave it at that for now.
I LOVE being intuitive! It’s like a sixth sense, a true blessing from the Creator. My intuition has been my strongest barometer for knowing what is about to happen. When my younger brother tragically passed away, I somehow knew it the morning it happened. The police came to my house, and I already knew what they were about to say. I followed my intuition during the chaotic weeks and months after his death traveling between Southern California, where the rest of my family lives, and the Bay Area, where I and my brother both lived. My intuition was at its strongest during this time because in my state of grief, my executive functioning (daily living routine, organization, left-brained skills) all but shut down, and I was more in tune with my own spirit and the spirits in my midst – including my brother’s.
I can safely say that my intuition has been like a spirit guiding me. This probably sounds crazy, but do you ever feel people’s energy? I do. As a social worker doing house calls, I felt it every time I set foot in a family’s house. Sometimes, the energy was peaceful, but more often than not, a spiritual chaos permeated the home. Feeling that energy reminded me of two things: why I was there, and why I was the right person for the job. I’ve always appreciated my ability to feel energy and how it has shaped my identity.
Next week: My F/feeling and J/judging side…