The Introverted Extrovert

“Went to where the people were on a Saturday night. Seems like it always seems. Where I go I want to leave. I surprised myself as my mouth started speaking. There was nothing left of my nerves as I leaned over to ask her. Pardon the intrusion. Could we leave before it gets bad? I might smash up all the windows. And set fire to the curtains.” ~Matt Pond PA, Halloween

I’m an introvert. I’m also an extrovert. Say what? Yep. I have done a lot of reading on this topic and taken countless online tests and quizzes. Every result is split down the middle. Half of my answers lean towards being an introvert and the other half leans towards being an extrovert. It’s very confusing. I envy those who lean hard one way or the other. There is no gray area of what you need to feel energized. For me, half the time I go out I wonder why the hell I left the house in the first place. Other times, I’m at ease and excited to embrace something new and meet new people. It’s a challenge.

I have good friends that are both introverts and extroverts. The beauty of being on the cusp of both is that I can relate and get energized from all of them. It’s great. No hang time is a bad time!

I have been paying attention to how I feel in my surroundings and discovered the line, for the most part, gets drawn between work and personal time.

I enjoy solitary work. Most of the positions I have sought out and held do require being part of a team, but my portion of the work are tasks and projects that are done solo then provided to the team for input…all while I am still sitting alone, behind a desk. The days I work from home? Sweet Denise Schneider! (That’s from the movie Safe Men.) I am so unbelievably happy. I don’t have to talk to anyone outside of work stuff. I am in the comfort of my home. I feel like I could run a marathon at the end of the day. Not really. More like a 5k at best, but still! I’m so energized from those work from home days that…

…yes. I immediately want to start making plans for the weekend. Out of my house. With multiple people. Somewhere that could be crowded or loud and people might look at me. Why?? Does this make any sense?

The ambivert struggle is real. Here are some things I do/have done as an ambivert:

  • I will talk to my friends at a bar until it closes. If I have to pee at that bar, I will make zero eye contact with strangers on the way to the bathroom and feel a sigh of relief when I get back to where my friends are sitting. A crowded bar can be too overwhelming sometimes. 
  • I love meeting new people…when I have people I know standing there with me. If you’re a friend of my friend? Even better. I’ll talk your ear off and want to know every detail about you. Otherwise, I’ll probably start and end the conversation with hello – if I even make eye contact with you at all. Please don’t stare at me.
  • I would love to go on a vacation with you…for like, four days tops. Then I need to go to home and not be by anyone. Actually, I probably won’t call you for a week, but I love you and had the best time!
  • My work colleagues probably think I’m a crazy pet lady who sits at home being responsible about all matters of my life. My friends know I’m both a crazy pet lady but also a chatty babe who likes to take over the juke box at bars when I’m comfortable and start dance parties when no one else is dancing. If they saw my work person, they would be confused.
  • At the end of a draining work week, I want nothing more than to be left alone. I’ll stay in all weekend because I need it to recharge. Then on Sunday, I panic because I spent the entire weekend riding solo. What have I done all weekend? Nothing? AHH!
  • If you’re quiet, I got you. I’ll do the talking. If you’re loud, I’m going to sit here and listen. Balance, my friends. I need it apparently.
  • I played sports my entire life and was captain of my high school and college teams. I put myself out there because I wanted to be a leader. After games I would go home and sit in my room with the door closed listening to music by myself. I was mentally drained and needed to reset. 
  • If you asked me to list some of the best times of my life, they would include days of late nights, rock ‘n roll, debauchery and setting things on fire in a wheel barrel with my loudest friends, some I only knew at surface level. They would also include hiking in the most beautiful scenery with old friends where barely a word was spoken.
  • Sometimes when I am at home with my animals, I feel this overwhelming sense of happiness; I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I need their peaceful energy.
  • Other times, I feel like if I don’t go out until the wee hours of the morning with my friends, I might not be able to face another work week. I need their crazy energy.
  • I’ve been called the life of the party, an old soul, a wallflower, someone who can talk to anyone, observant, intuitive, shy, outgoing, that I read people well and someone who lives in the moment. Did you follow that?

It’s weird, right? In the right setting, I don’t care if people are paying attention to me. Otherwise, please no one look at me. Don’t force me to make small talk. I can do it. I’ll do it. I don’t want to do it.

Three terms to describe people is pretty broad. I get there are varying levels to being an introvert, extrovert and ambivert, but there has to be more to describe complex behavior patterns. Please scientists and doctors, make a new term! Give the people what they want! How much is genetic, environmental, consequential…I don’t know. I just know I constantly toe the line. I’ve managed to trick some amazing people into being my friends from both worlds. I just wish there was a week where I didn’t feel like I wanted to take on the world, try new things while simultaneously keeping the covers over my head so no one could make small talk about the weather. I’m not asking for much, right?

Author: Penny Lame

I can find humor in almost everything. These are my stories.