Recently at work, my team took a Myers-Briggs assessment and had a meeting with a county HR employee to talk about what the MBTI means and how we can use our individual results to work better as a team. I was not at all surprised to see that the assessment showed me to be an ENFP. I always get that result when I take the MBTI. One coworker said to me, “You’re the quintessential ENFP.” But I was interested to see that while I’m usually a borderline Extrovert/Introvert, leaning slightly towards the Extrovert side, this time I came out as a strong Extrovert. I realized that I’d answered the questions based on my better understanding of how I’m an extrovert.
It’s not that I’m always the life of the party. It’s not that I’ll talk to completely strangers at the drop of a hat. It’s not that I never need time alone. Fact is, I’m sometimes very uncomfortable at social gatherings and feel nervous about engaging in conversations. Not only am I sometimes afraid to talk to strangers, I get nervous calling good friends on the phone. And I do sometimes need time alone, to think and dream and read and decompress. I’m an extrovert, but I’m a shy extrovert with social anxiety issues.
But after living alone for two years, I’ve realized that I hate living alone. Being the only person in the house frequently leaves me feeling restless, bored, lonely, and listless. It’s not that I can’t have fun on my own, it’s just that too much time alone drives me bonkers. I feel the need to be around people, even if it’s no one I know, even if I’m not going to talk to anyone. I sleep better if I can hear other people, whether it’s another person in bed breathing or people in another room talking. (This is a big reason why I would fall asleep in front of the TV when I lived alone. It was easier to fall asleep to the sound of people talking than surrounded by silence.)
Anyone who’s spent any time around me knows that I talk a lot. But that’s not what makes me an extrovert. It’s more that I share so much of my internal self. I’m really damn open about my thoughts, my feelings, my dreams, my half-baked ideas, my fears and anxieties. I’m open about this stuff in person and online. I realized recently that this is because it doesn’t seem real to me unless I share it with other people. If I write about things in a journal, it doesn’t really do anything for me. I need to talk about things with other people, get their feedback, bask in their approval or brave their scorn. I need that external validation. I wear my heart on my sleeve and share my personal feelings with friends and strangers alike because keeping things internal makes me uncomfortable and leaves everything feeling unresolved.
So this is me. Shy, afraid of rejection, anxious about being laughed at or derided, awkward and clumsy, but in furious need of social interaction and the company of friends and strangers.