Being an Extroverted Introvert; or INFJ Struggles

I’m a secret introvert. Actually, I’m not, since I tell everyone I’m an introvert within a few hours of knowing me so they don’t get offended when I cancel plans. Also so I have an excuse for the many hours I spend at home. Unapologetically.

But people who don’t know me well enough to get the speech are usually surprised when I do tell them. They’d guess I was an extrovert if they thought about it at all. They see me as the cheery person who always has a bright smile when she says good morning, and can small talk with ease, and loves to laugh and can’t get through a conversation without making everything funny. Oh, and the one who isn’t chuffed about speaking in front of people. MC the Spelling Bee? No problem. Give a presentation later about the Wax Museum? Sure. Lead Summer Camp and head up all the meetings? Of course!

The truth is, I’m a very serious introvert. I need a lot of downtime. I need a lot of heads-up if we’re going to go out and do something. Or if you’re going to call me on a phone. (Please text.) I need to psych myself up to go outside and take the trash out. I love lying in bed all day. All those introvert things.

I guess I can explain it by telling you I’m an INFJ, a social chameleon and adaptor. I take on the personality of the people I’m with. With reserved people, I’m self-controlled. With organized, business-like types, I’m efficient and logical. With upbeat, fun-loving people, I’m loud and silly. I used to feel weird, like I was losing myself in the process. But I consider this a strength. I can relate to people due to my empathy by mirroring them. It’s totally unconscious, but it does mean that I’m generally liked by most people. (This has been told to me by many other people I’ve worked with/known, so I trust this is true.)

But… (there’s always a but)

Sometimes it pulls me in different directions. Sometimes I really do want to go out but I’ve already been out so I can’t go out. I’m like the eternal cat, never knowing whether it wants to be in or out, meowing loudly in existential pain because the OTHER side is always better.

Oh well. The fact that I can speak in public without fear is something I’m not going to question or take for granted. Thank you, exhibitionist genes.

Now let me out. No, wait, I want to go back in. No, wait…


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