Introvert? Extrovert?

Introvert? Extrovert?

I grew up in a quiet house and I live in a quiet house. I am used to low key. I was the baby, everyone was grown up and gone. My sisters on the other hand grew up before me. They were used to crowds at the supper table and lots of action. I only ever saw that on weekends when they would come home. My house today is very quiet. I think many homes are. We just go quietly about our days. It feels comfortable to me.

Whenever I am in a crowd, no matter how much fun I am having, when I leave the crowd I always feel a need for rest and retreat. It does not matter how much I love the people I am with, I still need the retreat. In the old days I thought there was something wrong with me for feeling this way. I thought I was cranky or mean because I needed to get out of the action. In fact, I often felt cranky because I stayed in the action too long. 

There are things I have learned that I am ill-suited to. Most of these things I never do anymore, but in my thirties and forties I did them because I felt I should enjoy them. And truthfully I sometimes did, but often had a feeling in my gut that I was not in the right place. Now I have become very good at saying no. I have become very good at accepting that it is okay to want to stay home with my hooking and a pile of books, and a bit of ice cream in the freezer rather than go away overnight or hike a mountain.

My friends understand this and roll with me. I am good for a dinner out, a quick day trip, a bit of shopping or a 3k walk. It's not like I won't go. I just don't go along with the crowd so much anymore because it often makes me feel crowded. I like the quiet life. I grew up with it. I have it now, and I often crave it.

A woman told me yesterday that having lots of people around her energizes her and gets her going. I related to that. Sometimes I am ready for this and love it. But most often I find myself on the sidelines watching everything that's going on. It's where I am comfortable. It is the artist in me who likes to observe. And I love that role. Most often I find myself beginning the retreat even while I am in the crowd. I know this now, and I feel ok about it, unlike years ago when I struggled to feel ok in the centre of things. That struggle as I said before never felt good. There is so much we must come to accept about ourselves. So much we learn from observing not just others but our own thoughts, feelings, and actions.

I cannot say I am solely an introvert, though someone who hooks or writes alone for hours a day definitely has those qualities. I am also inspired by people, their warm beautiful spirits lift me too. I love hearing their stories and being with people and I value that part of myself too. I do not have to fit myself into a slot or a category, I can just feel the moment, the day and try to respond to what I and others need at a given time. Are any of us fully anything? Are some of us sole extroverts, while others are sole introverts? Or are most of us a mix, needing different things at different times? What are you?

I just know I need to watch myself. That little soul of mine calls out for some of both and so I try to strike a balance, paying attention each day. Loving people and loving solitude doesn't exclude either, they can in fact feed each other.


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  • Deanne Fitzpatrick
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