I’m an introverted extrovert. Or am I an extroverted introvert?

I’m not really sure – it could easily go either way.

I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test several times and each time, I scored very clearly on one side or the other in all categories – except for Introvert/Extrovert. Of 10 questions, I answered 5 as a clear introvert and 5 as a clear extrovert every single time.

Back in middle and high school, I used to be rather shy, in fact. Except when I was around my own friends – then I was one of the loudest in the group. It was really hard to meet and talk to new people, but once I got to know them a bit? I wouldn’t shut up.

At the end of the day, though, I always needed to go back to a quiet place and not talk to anyone. I needed that time to recharge.

I recall a few times back when I was single and lived in Florida and hosted a get-together in my apartment – as the last person left, I leaned against the door and sighed. Quiet at last. I greatly enjoyed my guests and the fun we had. But, damn, it was nice when they left and I had my place to myself again.

One of the benefits of travel, oddly enough, is that I get more of that decompression time. At the end of the day, I go back to the hotel. I talk to my husband and children for a bit, and then I’m alone – completely alone. No one calling out to me, no one asking questions, no one watching me.

I love my family, and I love my time with them. But I need that quiet time tremendously. I love walking places instead of taking a cab or a Lyft car, when it’s not an especially long drive, but that’s at least in part because I then don’t have to talk to anyone.

On an airplane, I put my earbuds in almost immediately so that my seatmates don’t try to talk to me – interestingly, I don’t find that my seatmates on Amtrak try to talk to me like they do on planes. It’s just that small talk with strangers takes a lot of energy out of me.

When I go to events without a friend, I often will stand in a corner and nurse a drink until someone talks to me. I might force myself to talk to someone first, but it takes a lot to do that. It’s sort of like jumping into the lake when you know it’s cold: You have to hold your breath and jump in so you get it over with.

Then, the water’s fine.

Image by Vic via Flickr Creative Commons.

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