I’m An Extroverted Introvert & I’m Okay With It

Yesterday ended a blissful weekend. We slept in late Saturday morning, met friends at the playground, went to the grocery store and came home to spend a leisurely evening before an early bedtime. The next day, I did some more cleaning and packing away in our new apartment. We then went over to our family’s apartment to hang out before another early night. On Monday,  I dropped my son off at daycare, worked, went to a rally over lunch, worked some more and picked him up. We stopped at the playground for a few minutes before heading home for dinner and bedtime. It was blissful indeed. You’re probably asking what was so delightful about this weekend, as opposed to others. Well, the big difference was that Adam was out of town. I had a really nice weekend in large part connected to his absence and I was filled with guilt at how much I enjoyed it. I soon realized something important to my sanity. This is simply life as an extroverted introvert. 

Adam is an extrovert. He loves being around others. If given the chance,  I suspect he would move into a commune where we would have group dinners and raise our kids with 5 moms and dads. I, on the other hand, grew up painfully introverted. I remember going to church with my sister and speaking to no-one but her for the entire morning even though others tried to engage with me. I can’t quite pinpoint why. It may have had to do with my reluctance to believe they would actually be interested in anything I had to say. It may have had to do with the belief that I just didn’t think it was worth the effort. It may have been because I have a speech impediment that, though better with age, crippled me into doubting the success of simple sentences. It definitely also had to do with the fact that my sister, the effortless person she is, seemed to glide through communication with an enviable ease that always escaped me. I preferred to hide in her shadow rather than join her as an equal. All that changed when she left for college. I was on my own and forced to communicate with others. I discovered something interesting. I liked people. I liked getting to know them, listening to their stories and inhaling their different energies. As my personality breathed for the first time ever, I became more and more extroverted. I made friends.

My twenties were a blur of delayed raging hormones and misplaced passions but, as I settled into my thirties and started to get to know who I really am, I became more and more aware of my energy. After meeting Adam, I started going out more, spending time with more people….and it was all fun…but I was often left drained and emotionally exhausted by the experiences. People fascinate me. I love having brunches with Adam where our apartment is crowded with friends. One of the main reasons we moved into our new place is so that we could be closer to friends and family. As I started reading more about personality types through therapy, I discovered that I am an extroverted introvert. I love people but I also crave and need my alone time. It’s a thing and it’s me.

So back to this blissful weekend without Adam. I love him with everything I have to offer but he is a human being with desires and opinions and dislikes and preferences. With just the little one and I, I was able to choose, completely on my own, when I wanted to be around others, how long I wanted to stay and all the wonderful freedoms that go with that. I was able to be in complete control over the hours of my day and how I spent each one. Make no mistake, I am so excited for Adam to come back home….but I didn’t miss him. Every now and again, I need a complete break from humanity and yes, I need to be in complete control, even if it’s only for a few days. The hardest part about coming to terms with this was my guilt over not missing him. I’ve come to realize that missing him is a societal expectation of time apart. I need time apart to survive in a close relationship, be it friendship or marriage…and that’s ok. It’s much better for me to come to terms with and ask for this than for me to battle my emotional inclinations and be consumed with inner turmoils because I haven’t gotten enough space.

Extroverted introverts (I love psychological labels, if you couldn’t tell) are walking contradictions to everyone but ourselves. It takes a special brand of person to love an EI. There is a certain amount of patience and a personal desire to not be desperately hinged to that person. We don’t love less…dare I say we love pretty intensely….but we definitely don’t love the same way. And that’s neither a positive or a negative. It just is.

Welcome home, babe.

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