I feel like I finally understand myself.

And I’m making myself a little vulnerable here, because I am opening myself up to being judged “odd” or “weird”.  But I really feel like I achieved some clarity on who I am at my core, so I want to share it with you.

I came across a post on Huffington Post by Sophia Dembling called “Nine Signs That You Might Be an Introvert”, and after reading it, I felt like I just walked out of a great therapy session (and listen, I don’t do therapy).  People who know me are probably saying, “You never knew you were an introvert?  Seriously?”  Of course I knew I was an introvert!  I just never understood that many of my behaviours are “normal” signs of an introvert.  Just about all the nine signs Dembling  writes about described me perfectly.  This was a moment of truth for me, and very revealing. The ones that particularly resonated with me were:

You rarely think, “the more the merrier”

  • I definitely prefer one-on-one or small group settings.  I feel lost in big groups.  I don’t open up a party in my home to friends of friends, or my best friend’s cousin just because they’re in from out of town and have nowhere to go.  I thoroughly enjoy deep conversations with one or a few people at a time, not idle chit chat while mingling in a room of 50.

You consider doing nothing doing something

  • Yes, yes, yes!  I always feel I need some alone time with quiet solitude – no media, no devices.  When I don’t get this, I feel frazzled and overwhelmed. I’ve written in a past post about how FuBu teases me for “Puddying”; he can’t understand how I can just “sit there”.

Sometimes you feel like your head might explode

  • Dembling remarked that recent research showed that introverts have very busy brains, which is why we need our moments of solitude after too much social interaction.  I feel this way often, but never attributed it to being an introvert. Aha!

You haven’t answered a ringing telephone in years

  • Well, that is an overstatement, but what Dembling explains is that introverts “give bad phone” – love that expression!  We are just not comfortable communicating at length by telephone.  She also says that introverts have a difficult time switching gears quickly, so if the phone rings while we’re in the middle of a concentrated task, it is jarring.  I can’t tell you how many times I would be sitting at work, buried in a task, and when the phone rang, I found it completely disruptive.  And yes, it’s true: often, I would not pick up the phone if I didn’t feel mentally “ready” to take a call, even if I knew who it was and it was someone I enjoyed talking to (sorry if that was you, although I guess the whole point is for me to not apologize for it?).

You prefer one close friend to 100 lovely acquaintances

  • This is why I do not boast a large friendship circle and don’t mind saying so. Having a big “girls’ night out” or “girls’ getaway” is not an option for me – I would only have a couple of people to ask. The friends I do have are ones I value deeply.

And my favourite one:

You can’t imagine what all those people find to talk about.

So true!  I am often amazed when I see people on their cell phones in their car at 7 a.m. – who on earth would you be talking to at that hour and why??  And people walking down the street on their phones having – again – idle chit chat: can’t this wait until you can have a meaningful conversation with that individual without the distractions of traffic and scenery around you?  I so relate when Dembling says, “I’m incapable of stringing that many words together at one time. Sometimes, I can’t even finish my own sentences, losing interest halfway through and trailing off.” Oh my god – has she been listening in on my conversations?!

Dembling also clarified that “shy” and “introverted” are not the same thing. I don’t get paralyzed with fear in social situations, which is what can happen to shy people.  I have what she calls “low drive to participate in social situations” – I can take them or leave them.

What I have found most interesting is how an understanding of the self can help explain so many personal attributes and characteristics that, on their own, just made you seem quirky or odd. It’s like getting a clear diagnosis for all those aches and pains you’d been experiencing.  When you know what you have to deal with, you know how to deal with it and accept that it’s ok.  That’s pretty refreshing.  Of course, the challenge is getting those around you to understand and learn how to deal with you, too!

Are you an introvert or extrovert?