Sunday, June 3, 2012

Living In Introverts Paradise

I lie on tests.  All the time.

At least I used to.

I have the gift (or something like that) of discerning exactly what a test is asking.  For example, with a mental illness questionnaire, a personality scale, a physician's questionnaire, I know within two questions how to answer so the results reflect what I'd like to believe about myself.

I found this useful in middle school and high school when our teachers had us take all types of personality tests, work-compatibility tests, etc.  I learned to respond to questions so my answers described me as sociable, extroverted, and likely to be a teacher (as that's what I wanted to pursue at the time).

(A question to pursue in a later post is why I felt the need to lie on these tests. I wasn't graded on these and most of the tests were for my personal benefit. My desire to hide who I really was even from myself?)

Since I enjoyed interacting with people and I sought to include everyone in conversations, especially those who I felt my be on the edge of my social circle, I felt that I must be an extrovert.  Clearly my interest in social interaction meant that I thrived on them.  Right?

It took years for me to realize how wrong this was.  The signs were there from the beginning.  Sure I enjoyed socializing at school, but by the time I came home I could not fathom hanging out with a group of friends or even one friend.  Even the sounds from my large family stressed me out.  All I really wanted to do was curl up with a good book in my room.  I thought this was clearly against God's will so I did everything to change who I was.

It didn't work. Obviously.

I've really come to terms with my introversion over the past year.  Sure I am friendly and will talk with people when out and about, but I am so exhausted by those interactions that I usually can't go out the rest of the week.  I prefer solitude to groups of people.  I also prefer hanging out with my husband or reading a book in a park to meeting with people.  That doesn't mean I don't like talking with friends, it just takes so much energy and preparation for that to happen.  For example, I can't spontaneously have lunch with a friend, I have to plan it out at least 4 days in advance so I can store energy.  Even then I find myself trying to make excuses to back out at the last minute.

With recognition of my introversion, I have had to relearn pieces of myself.  I am working on accepting this part of myself rather denying it exists. Hopefully, with my new awareness, I will find ways to work with my introversion during social gatherings rather than cope with it.


  1. Please tell me you have read Susan Cain's QUIET - if not then run, don't walk, to find it at the library or bookstore. It made so much sense to me, and helped me understand behaviors and habits of mine in a new way. I'm a lot like you describe, in that I am introverted and get easily overwhelmed and exhausted by interactions (with people but also by noises, smells, etc). This often surprises people who don't know me very well. I knew I sensed a kindred spirit here on your blog! xoxo

  2. You are so funny (and I am just like you)! I lied on those tests all the time - for the reason you state - to turn out to be the person I wanted to be - not the person I am. While part of me is an extrovert, I cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I do, however, think it's just a label. I am comfortable in my skin - and therapy helps. ;-)

  3. I cracked up at your opening to this post, Amber.

    I always found most personality tests to be silly. The need to force oneself into a "slot" - while I understand its marketing value - becomes an unhelpful exercise when dealing with individuals.

    Some of us are extroverts at times, and introverts at others... and everything along a full spectrum of personality traits in other ways as well.

    I wonder when we'll feel less inclined to label people (and then move on), and more willing to take our time and get to know them more thoroughly.

  4. I have not! Putting it on my reading list ASAP. :)

  5. I understand the distrust of labels, however I have found identifying myself as an introvert - personality-wise not for any other reason - has led to a much healthier way in learning how to manage social situations. Some people choose to ignore those labels, which I completely respect and understand, but for me it helps put a name to something that I couldn't describe before and can now research and learn more about. For me, my introversion has led to building walls because I just cannot handle the exhausting nature of social interaction. Now that I recognize what it is, I have learned to space social interactions out and keep my engagements to small groups. It has helped me come out of my shell and I really appreciate that.

  6. I definitely distrust personality tests because I pathologically lie on them. ;) I think that labels, like introvert and extrovert, can help some people and harm others; thus, I wouldn't encourage everyone to come out and say they are one or the other because human nature is complex. However, recognizing and embracing my introverted nature (which is actually a component of my mental illness) has been an important part of my journey to better understand and accept myself.


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