1.21.2011

I am not an introvert

JP has this thing he loves to tease me about.

When we were first dating and I was in college, I took a communications course in which we studied the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. For those of you who aren't familiar, it's basically a personality type indicator. You can read more about it here.

When we were studying the section on Introversion or Extraversion, my professor explained it this way (roughly):

Introversion is when you draw your energy from within (eg: ideas, being alone, reflection, etc).
Extraversion is when you draw your energy from the outside world (eg: involvement, being with others, talking things out, etc).

It is possible to be a shy extrovert or an outgoing introvert. That part of the personality varies; what matters is from where you draw your energy.


I had never heard of an "outgoing introvert" before, but I liked the sound of it. I don't know, maybe I thought being an introvert meant you were "deeper," maybe even wiser, whereas extraverts were "shallow" and dependent.

So I dubbed myself Audra, the outgoing introvert: I'm outgoing and like to be social, but I draw my energy from being alone, reflecting and contemplating the depths of life. (I know, so poetic, right?)

JP just laughed at me when I told him. He asserted I was 100% extravert and was crazy to think otherwise.

I held my ground on this for a long time, and would even point out things to him to defend my stance. Things like, "See, I've been going and going with all of these social activities and I'm drained. I need to be home or alone to gain back my energy." He would laugh and say, "That doesn't make you an introvert. It just makes you tired and in need of rest."

Maybe he had a point, but I still wanted to be an introvert for some reason.


Fast forward 6+ years. I am a stay-at-home mother of three. I L-O-V-E my job and my life! I'm doing exactly what I always wanted to do since I was in middle school -- be a wife and mom. But one thing is very clear: I am not an introvert.

There! I said it!

It probably became clear to me about 2-3 months after quitting my job and staying home full time. We stay-at-home-moms have a lot of time alone. But not really alone. I constantly have three little bodies attached to my hip. I don't have a moment's privacy while they're awake, not even to change clothes or use the restroom (I can't remember the last time I even attempted to close the bathroom door -- it's pointless).

But even with constant companions, I get to feeling very alone. Alone, because I have very little adult interaction these days. After I get to see or hang out with another adult (it could be a girlfriend, a member of my family, whoever), I find myself counting down the days until the next time I get to be with another adult.

"Ok, today's event is over that means five more days until we go to grandma's house! I just have to make it through five days of Buzz Lightyear and horsey rides, then I can have another face-to-face conversation with an adult."

Pathetic, right? Pathetic extraversion. I need "social." Without it, I become edgy, impatient, crabby, and depressed. *sigh* ...so shallow.

And yet, I don't think I am alone. Because although we are mothers, we are also still women. And women need to feel like women every once in a while. You know, put on some heels and eat a warm dinner without stopping to get play dough out of the carpet.

Honestly, I'm not really pushy or naggy about getting out, but after a couple months of very little social interaction I start getting antsy not to get away from my kids mind you, but to just have an afternoon where I can put on an outfit that I normally wouldn't wear for fear of getting spit up all over it, or drink a full cup of coffee in one sitting without having to put it down and warm it up 4 times because I had to avert World War 3 over a Polly Pocket.


If I could do those things with my kids around, that would be even better! My children bring me immense joy, but it is very, very draining to have six big, blue, beautiful eyes that you just can't say no to, always looking to you to be their source for...everything. Their 24/7 source for entertainment, nourishment, comfort, health, companionship, and any other need you could possibly think of. What an exhausting, beautiful honor.


Anyhow...what was my point? Oh yes, extraversion. JP wins. Today, I am needing to "draw some energy" from the outside world. I've had enough alone time. And it's T-minus 3 days until I get to have a dinner out with my mom and my sisters. ;)

Thanks for listening to the ramblings of a Minnesotan extrovert mom with cabin fever.










11 comments:

The Petersons said...

Bahaha! I TOTALLY hear you! I am SO looking forward to Monday night too, and I was so sad when we had to cancel last week. Great blog! Loved it. I am an extrovert too. I love you and can't wait to talk your ear off. ;)

Sarah D said...

Ah man, I feel like a jerk, I canceled on you friday :( Next week for sure!!!

Priya said...

Nice! I had a similar experience to you. I took the Meyers-Briggs while working at the University and i swore up and down i was not an "off the chart" extrovert like the test claimed. Work drained me, too much social interaction drained me, etc. (My colleagues - and Mike just kind of chuckled. Guess they knew me better than i knew myself.) Fast forward to my recent life change - mostly stay at home mom (i still work from home and go in to the office very occasionally). Wow - my extrovertness has become VERY apparent. So now i too proudly proclaim - I AM AN EXTROVERT. :-)

Anonymous said...

And sadly...cabin fever has taken a turn above and beyond this year with sub-zero temps that make you not even want to go to the grocery for interaction with adults you don't even know, much less a cup of coffee with friends. We must begin to have some night meetings at one another's homes that begin at 9:00 p.m. and go at least until 11:00 so that all of the beautiful children are safely tucked in bed and daddy is there in the quiet of the home.
Being a southerner in 'northernville' I am lost in a world as the extrovert's extrovert. That translates to me being culturally out-going (and perhaps, shall we say, out-spoken) and everyone around me thinking I'm way nuts and/or out of order! Ya end up having to keep your mouth shut (in quiet contemplation) until you visit your home-land every four to six months...and this is VERY hard to do for an extrovert!! Not only are you counting the days, you're counting the months!! Lord, give us grace!!

Stuart B said...

Audra, you're awesome. Loved reading this. Wish there were more women and mothers like you.

molly said...

funny, dave and i have been talking about this very thing! we concluded that i am a "shy extrovert" and he is a (mostly) "outgoing introvert" i'd be crazy by now if it weren't for mom's groups and play dates!!!

Lynette said...

I understand totally, Audra. I don't think it has as much to do with being an "introvert" or "extrovert" as it does to being a stay at home mom with young children. All of us need time with other adults. It does get better as the kids get older. Teens are a blast!! Love ya!

Bron and Jenda said...

This made my night! (See the Packers are going to the Super Bowl and I'm pouting) Love the honesty! And there's no shame in being an extrovert; I married one and he is never ashamed. :)

Becky said...

I'm so introverted. I get wiped by a day of diapers, snuggles,whining, and stories and when Parnell comes home, what do I want? To go take a walk by my lonesome so I can feel like myself again. Not that I don't love Sunday family dinners, mom's night, and seeing people at church, but what I count down to is the kids being in bed so I can do my nails or read a book.
It's funny that you feel like extroversion could appear shallow. I'm always a little insecure that I'm not a very good friend because it just doesn't occur to me to reach out and spend time with people. Guess we just have to be who God made us.

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

Hi Audra,
I loved reading this. You are such a talented writer and a wise and lovely woman.
Love,
Auntie Susie