I'm a person who loves a party, loves to be out in front, loves to perform and interact and sparkle.
Naturally, I assumed I was an extrovert. I'm the one who sees the person standing alone at the gathering and goes up and starts a conversation, and grabs a few other people to join us, and then suddenly, we're the loudest corner in the place.
A few days ago, I had a meeting with someone I see periodically to help keep my perspective in line with reality. We'll call her Julie (as that is her name).
I was describing a recent weekend in which I had been surrounded by those I liked and loved, and they were all very happy and having fun, and they Wanted Me To Have Fun along with them. Leading up to that weekend, I'd been working, teaching, massaging, "being there" for friends, spending free time preparing for an interview, and such. No sooner had I gotten home from work a few days in a row, then I would go out to Some Fun Event. By the second or third of such a day, I started feeling kind of nuts. Kind of desperate. I wanted to go hide in a hole. I didn't want to be touched, didn't want to be talked to, to be asked, to be needed or even wanted. I tried standing up and saying that I really needed some time off, and I was reminded that I was "supposed" to enjoy doing fun things, and maybe I just needed to get out and do them, and then I'd be fine. Maybe I was just a bit tired.
So I went. I put on the brave happy Let Us Have FUN! face. And after a bit, I did have fun. I put aside my need for a cave, and rose above and threw myself into the spirit of the day(s). It was fine.
When all was over, I got home and sat down, and was covered in a glaze of "leave me the heck alone or I'm gonna shiv you" that wouldn't go away. It lasted for several days, and for the most part, I was able to cover it up and act fairly normal. I smiled and was gentle and caring to my kids (mostly), to my students, to my clients. I said the right words, I made my hands do the right things so that people would feel nurtured. But each time I tried to relax by myself, I'd just kind of sit and hold my elbows to my sides and make myself be very small and still. I didn't even want my dogs to touch me. I didn't want the sun to shine on me. Finally, I just went to bed and napped each time this hit me. I napped quite a lot for a couple of days.
So I went to see Julie, to see if she could help me sort it out.
She started smiling, and I was all, "WHAT? This is FUNNY?" And she shook her head. "You're an outgoing introvert."
Huh? That's a thing?
Apparently, when a person loves to be involved, to be in the center of things, but then needs some alone time to recharge, that's being an introvert who is outgoing.
I raised a skeptical eyebrow.
She asked, "When you're at a party or something, and it's crazy and fun, but then you walk outside for some air and some space, does the alone-ness feel good and recharging, or does it feel like a let down?"
I acknowledged that it felt good and recharging. "I'm great company for myself!"
I figured everybody felt that way.
Apparently that was incorrect.
So, who'd have thought. I'm an introvert.