I know you won’t believe this, but I was a shy kid. Painfully shy. One of my clearest memories is when I was around six-years old, at my brother’s Eagle Scout ceremony, and hiding under my mom’s poncho (it was the 70s).
I remember in junior high standing around and physically gagging, not being able to speak in a group of girls.
It started to turn around, just a little bit, when I discovered theatre arts in high school.
While I enjoyed performing on a stage, I also enjoyed the divide between me and the audience. I liked being seen, but from afar. No social interactions for me, thank you very much.
That carried through into my college years, and manifested itself in many ways.
I thought all of thise made me an introvert, by nature.
Turns out, my definitions of extrovert (outgoing, gregarious person) and introvert (a shy person) were too narrow.
Earlier this week, my buddy Mike O’Horo threw out the psychological definition of extrovert, which included the gem below, on my Facebook wall, and it made me go “Hmmmm.”
They tend to be energized when around other people …
Yeah, that sounds like me.
It had me go in search of a deeper understanding of what it means to be an extrovert.
I have clung to this old idea that an extrovert is an outgoing person. Which, I still have a hard time seeing as being me, as the memories of that shy girl are still so vivid in my mind.
But this idea that an extrovert gets their energy from external interactions, I GET that. It makes sense. Click. Click. Click. The connections started to come together.
Early in my career I went through the Myers-Brigg exercise. I was an ENTJ. But I always had a problem with that E. Extrovert. It didn’t fit that girl hiding under her mom’s poncho, paralyzed by fear to speak in a group, or be seen.
From the ENTJ definition above:
ENTJs love to interact with people. As Extroverts, they’re energized and stimulated primarily externally. There’s nothing more enjoyable and satisfying to the ENTJ than having a lively, challenging conversation. They especially respect people who are able to stand up to the ENTJ, and argue persuasively for their point of view. There aren’t too many people who will do so, however, because the ENTJ is a very forceful and dynamic presence who has a tremendous amount of self-confidence and excellent verbal communication skills. Even the most confident individuals may experience moments of self-doubt when debating a point with an ENTJ. (emphasis added)
Yeah I’m down with that.
Turns out that the extrovert in me, and that shy girl, were one in the same, and lived in harmony for years.
I get my energy from you. From external interactions. Shy and extrovert, it turns out, were not mutually exclusive.
I left that shy girl behind many years ago, and found my confident voice, but, for some reason, I have not been able to let go of this old idea that I was (don’t laugh) still that shy girl. I jokingly “confess” to people that I am, by nature, anti-social.
I really cannot say that any more.
So, please, let me introduce myself:
Hi, I’m Heather, and I am an extrovert.