Tuesday, January 22, 2013

a case of adult-onset introversion

My name is Katie and I have adult-onset introversion.

It's kind of like how a couple of my friends have adult-onset lactose intolerance, but I can still eat dairy. So it's not really the same, actually. And wow, I love me some fro yo.

Growing up, I was the definition of extroversion. 

And by growing up, I mean "anytime between age 0 and about a year ago." If there was a party, I had to be there. I hated missing any social event. My dad, he was the opposite. He's the funniest person I know, but only a few people know it because he always hides in his room when too many people come over to the house.

Introversion and shyness are not the same thing.

My research (see: googling and talking to other people) has taught me that introverted vs. extroverted is not the same thing as shy vs. outgoing. An introvert or extrovert is defined by how they get their energy: introverts feel drained by a crowd, and extroverts feel energized. Introverts recharge their energy reservoir with some quality alone time. It is entirely possible to have a shy extrovert and an outgoing introvert.

For me, shyness is purely situational.

If i'm in my element (usually somewhere I spend a lot of time) I feel confident talking to anyone and everyone. But if I'm the new kid in a crowd of people who all know each other, you'll find me hiding in a corner somewhere. When I first started the job I'm at now, I barely talked to anyone for the first couple months. I ate lunch out in the same room as everyone, but I rarely contributed to the conversation. To their credit, my coworkers did exactly what I prefer people do in that situation: acknowledged me but didn't draw too much attention to me or push me to say anything.

I attended a networking event not too long ago where I quickly slipped into my "I'm intimidated so I'm going to be quiet" mode, and one of the other attendees would repeatedly call attention to me with statements such as, "Don't say too much over there!" (Cue more intimidation and not even a remote desire to open my mouth or interact with anyone.) (Also cue a desire to throw my appetizer at that obnoxious woman.)

Leadership is a huge factor.

One theme I've noticed is that being placed in leadership positions brings me out of my "I'm shy around new people" shell. If I attend a small group gathering where I barely know anyone, I'm really not likely to say much. But if you tell me I'm in charge and I need to lead the discussion or take other people under my wing, I blossom. (Side note: I hate the word blossom because it makes me think about awkward puberty lessons in elementary school.) But really, if I know I'm expected to step up and be animated, I totally do. Otherwise, it's the quiet corner for me.

So what am I?

But shy vs. outgoing aside, am I an extrovert or an introvert? Like I said, back in the day I was a large-gathering-i-love-parties social addict. NOTHING could have been worse than sitting at home on a Friday or Saturday night!

And then something funny happened.

Sometime in the last year, I stopped liking parties. I stopped caring if I missed a social event. I even started to love being alone. Like, LOVE. A weekend night with no plans?? Hallelujah to high heaven! At first I thought it was "a phase I'm going through," but then it became clear the habit was going to stick around.

Last Friday night I took a hot shower, pulled on my favorite striped pajamas and crawled into bed to read a book and watch netflix.....at 7 pm. And I would probably do it every night if I could. Which basically means I've turned into my dad, so maybe this is genetic?

So I've diagnosed myself: I have adult-onset introversion.

What about YOU? And did it change as an adult?

more netflix and striped pajamas please,
katilda

24 comments:

Katie said...

Time to Blossom. Also, as you probably have already determined, I am an introvert. I definitely get my energy by spending time alone (or with Tim...even better). But, like you, I can be outgoing in some situations and shy in others. It really just depends.

I recently had an epiphany about Tim that shocked me. He is actually an introvert! My outgoing, friendly husband is an introvert. He has to spend alone time in order to be able to recharge and be outgoing and friendly.

Chrissy Delacy said...

Ugh I wish I could say I'm adult. Sadly I am still stuck in adolecence i fear. :)

Myke Olsen said...

I'm glad you make the distinction between shy and introvert because they're not the same thing. While I do have introvert-esque tendencies -- I do appreciate a certain amount of alone time -- I think I am mostly a shy extrovert. But I have taken multiple personality tests that have labeled me as an introvert and an extrovert at another time. Probably just depends on when I take the test.

It's strange how these can change as you grow up. When I was a kid/young teenager, I was more than content to spend the entire day playing with Legos and watching cartoons all by myself.

Kristen said...

That was interesting to read, I always thought introvert and shy were the same... guess not!! I was super shy as a kid and got outta my shell in jr high.

Now...

My husband and I are home-bodies. And we are glad we are both alike. If it's not just our family hanging out, we prefer a small group of people as opposed to a large party, for sure!!

And I'm glad we are both laid-back, hang out at home people. If one of us were always a go-go-go personality, and one wanted to always stay at home, I could see there being problems in the long run.

Jayme said...

When I worked at Disney, my room-roommate and I would have alone time, together in our room. We'd each lie on our beds with our laptops and headphones in and not talk to each other. It wasn't that we didn't like each other, but after a long day, we needed to decompress all alone!

Emma Frances said...

I am definitely an introvert and I also think it happened as I've gotten older! In the ward I grew up in I spent way more time hanging out with people and just loved to be around all of my friends and things. Then I moved away to college where I knew pretty much no one and I super turned into an introvert. I think I always was one I just didn't realize it though. And now that I'm married I feel like I have even less of a desire to get out of the house and hang out with people. I'm perfectly content to hang out with Race and Holland.

Samuel Hardman Taylor said...

My life started as an extrovert. Myers-Briggs Personality Test tells me that am I an ENTJ. Then when I became an RA, and I had no personal life to speak of because I lived in my place I work all I wanted to be was alone. All the time. I did not want to to have to deal with or be around people ever. That onset-introversion happened for about 2 years. Now that I am in Ft. Worth I have allowed for my extrovert to explore all over the place again. I think it was in an act of desperation to make friends. I was telling the universe, "Listen, I am cool be friends with me. I can actually talk to other human beings and enjoy it." So, I am back to an extrovert. It has been a confusing process for me. Hence, I believe personality traits are a little bit more fluid than psychologist might want us to believe.

Sarah Hall said...

Yep, I've experienced the same thing! I get all excited when I first hear about the event, but when it's time to actually go, I think, "do I really have to? Can't I just study?"

Also, about the "shy around new people who all know each other but you don't know them so you act kind of anti-social and weird" phenomenon, I think that is normal. I've been experiencing it recently myself. Luckily, it's not stopping me from still trying to get to know people. I made a resolution this year to make a special effort to attend anything I get invited to that might possibly help me get to know people, and I've kept it so far! Though it's a bit painful.

Kevin said...

All I can say is me too.

Mandy Ballard said...

This was like reading my own journal or something. Albeit much more intelligent then most entries i write...but anyway, all of this is exactly true for me. Guess that's the dad thing. Mom always says, "you're your father's daughter" when i am less than excited about any social event. haha

He.She.&Eloise.... in the city said...

Very interesting. You are darling- I am now thinking about what I am?! Ha!

katilda said...

I like that most married people who are introverts still prefer their alone time with their spouse! It reminds me of an episode of boy meets world (of course it does) when Topanga says she wants to be alone and Cory says "Then I'll be alone with you."

katilda said...

Never grow up!

katilda said...

So basically....you and I are opposites. Maybe we switched places at some point, when I headed for the sidelines and you came on to the extrovert field. I bet we even metaphorically slapped hands as we passed, like teammates.

katilda said...

I do wonder if this is one area where it's better to be the same in a relationship or if it can work to balance each other? Seems like a hard mix if one wants to go out all the time.

katilda said...

My roommate and I do that so often. But she is totally an extrovert, so she probably only does it because I do it first. haha

katilda said...

I am glad you have a husband and baby to be at home with...my lack of desire to be at parties might be detrimental to my dating life, haha

katilda said...

The last time I took that test I was a solid ENFP! Not sure if that would be true for me anymore? I think it probably is fluid, like you said. And sometimes there are other factors...like I'll answer some of the questions as "yes I go to parties when invited" but it's not necessarily because I want to go to the party, it's usually because the host/hostess is a friend and I want to support their gathering. So maybe I'm a situationally shy, ALTRUISTIC introvert...? This is getting complicated. haha

katilda said...

I think that's a great resolution! I used to accept any and all invitations, so maybe I just burned out eventually.

katilda said...

I don't know who you are but thank you for validating me.

katilda said...

We inherited his personality like we inherited his toes.

katilda said...

Don't think too hard :) Excited to meander around your blog more!

Autumn said...

I am an introvert. I don't like telling people that though because so many misconceptions advertise introvert as "person who hates people and is socially inept." However, I am.

I can be very outgoing and I generally the person who talks to our waitresses and store clerks checking us out, but I am still an introvert.

Crystalee said...

It's funny how marriage changes you. In our single days, my hubs and I were both very much extroverts - always at parties, social gatherings. Naturally, we went in our "cave" for the first six months of marriage - and when we got out two years ago, we'd kind of forgotten how to be social. It's something we talk about a lot, and makes us both kind of sad...but we're delighted to stay home together. It's a treat.