I took a short nap today…that always does me in. Then I can’t sleep and end up missing more sleep than if I’d just struggled through the mid-day sleepy, thereby creating more tired rather than solving the “tired enough to need a nap” issue to begin with! But I’m on summer break, so I guess I have the time to mess up my sleep a bit.
I also haven’t written in awhile, but since I’m awake, I can use the time to explore something I’ve been thinking on a bit more recently…
I’ve been doing some self reflection of what type of person I want to be and the type of person I think others perceive me as…
I used to believe that introversion was an affliction of the less than desirable genre. I also associated extroversion with being confident, whereby introversion must, by design, mean unconfident since they are antonyms, right? In order to be liked, to be accepted, to be strong, to have power, one must be extroverted. Therefore I presented myself and believed myself to be extroverted.
I am beginning to rethink that mindset. While I do believe I had confidence (in some regards) and I was certainly willing to talk to people if/when necessary and speak my mind freely with minimal discomfort, I never really recognized my preference for smaller, more intimate groups as introversion. I didn’t really recognize the need I had for my own space and to retreat to a comfort zone once I’d ‘had enough’ social, nor did I attribute it to introversion.
In my youth, I always sought to be out with friends and doing fun things with others. My sister was the homebody sitting around reading books while I preferred to be out and about. We were polar opposites and didn’t get along (and still don’t really have a relationship) so I certainly didn’t want to be “introverted” like she was. As a child I would leave my house at dawn and return when the sun went down, seeking any neighborhood adventures I could. I even remember putting up with the neighborhood boys taunting and ruthless tormenting just to be away from home. I see this now as an escape from an uncomfortable home life more so than a need for social stimulation.
In high school I was involved in multiple clubs and organizations with social outlets. I guess I had many friends, though I don’t know if I ever really trusted that they were fully my friends deep down. I was more likely to trust the boys who were friends than my girlfriends. I think I believed people to be more superficial and dishonest then they purported to be, which was truly my own insecurities I see in hindsight. Though believing them to be that way, then created a truth in me that came through in the relationships that became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. I guess it wouldn’t be a surprise then to know that I couldn’t wait to get the HELL out of the town I grew up in once graduation came. I had had enough of the people I went to school with and their small minded ideals (in my own self absorbed belief system). I wanted better things. I was confident, and “extroverted”, and destined to be something “MORE”, though I had no idea what that meant or how I should go about getting it…I just knew I wanted to be something else. Someone else. Something important. Thank you Oprah and your daily special highlights of people making a difference.
Once I got to college, I acted as though I had it all figured out…I think I was probably bossy and self-absorbed in only a way a truly insecure person can be. But my quiet, mousy, studious roommate who didn’t really want to frequent frat parties or approve of my boyfriend visits was the “introverted” loser in my book. I gravitated towards loud, popular girls who I thought could ‘rub off’ on me and help me become something “MORE”. Little did I recognize my different interactions at parties to be contrary to the behaviors of my idolized “extrovert” friends. I didn’t really desire to do the all night party thing. I could never sustain the interest required for the duration of small talk or never ending socializing that went along with drinking games well into the night. I chalked it up to getting bored easily. I always left early before the party was officially over. I see now it was a desire to be alone. To recharge. I wanted to have more interesting conversations that went deeper than superficial, silly antics. My relationships with the “extrovert” girls had their cycles. Mainly they just didn’t last. They would find someone else interested who could ‘hang’ with the best of them and I was quickly dismissed. I took offense rather than recognize my own identity and the needs I had.
I think the introvert in me was a major draw to the string of ‘boyfriends’ I had throughout high school and college. I sought out serious relationships and can’t really say there was much time where I didn’t have a serious boyfriend. Having a steady boyfriend allowed me to have those more intimate conversations as well as excuses for being less social…and not in a creepy introverted way, but an “I’m an extrovert with a boyfriend, so I can’t go to the party” kind of way. Claiming the social butterfly identity while deep down I just wanted to hang out with some good, honest people who I knew where I stood with them and I enjoyed their company.
Once I began relationships in my adulthood, I continued to form relationships primarily with outgoing people who pursued friendships with me. I notice as I look back, however, that those relationships tended to be stepping stones to other relationships that I developed and didn’t always last long. As I am understanding extraversion now, I realize that the one owning the room (those people I befriended) were the truly extroverted ones and I was just a wannabe. I guess I thought that if I rubbed elbows enough with them, then I’d also be considered worthy, acceptable, and powerful. I certainly never wanted to be considered weak. And for whatever reason, I associated being an introvert with being weak.
I don’t really know where the association came from. I think my childhood was marred with a significant amount of discord and insecurity with my home life as well as my own personal insecurity. I knew I didn’t want to be weak. My mother was strong. Strong opinions, strong emotions, strong personality. She used it against my dad often. He seemed weak. He never fought back really. He allowed her to steamroll. I didn’t want to be rolled over. If I was going to be something, I wanted it to be the roller rather than the squashed. Therefore I wanted to be strong, and since I viewed extroversion as strong, I needed to be associated with extroverts and also being extroverted.
Over the past few years I have seen a shift in me. I have begun to embrace my ‘alone’ side. I think more by situational reality than by choice. Dating has been a whole lot of disappointment for me, as well as a brewery for insecurities. I’ve spent a lot of time alone, especially since I have to share my kids with my ex. I’ve become more accustomed to doing things alone if I truly want to do it badly enough. Though I still would prefer to do things with another I feel connected to… Sharing something special with someone special. I miss that. Immensely.
I’m learning the art of sitting back and being more a part of the scenery rather than trying to be the sparkle. It just doesn’t fit me and I wish it hadn’t taken me this long to figure it out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still outspoken and confident in many situations, I just try to feel authentic more often than contrived. I truly desire an authentic life, and now I’m starting to recognize my own needs and accept some of the realities of what that means.
Ok…I’m going to try to get back to the sleep thing now…wish me luck! Night.