If you had asked me if I was an extrovert when I was younger, I would have reluctantly but eagerly said yes. By most experiences, I thought I was.
I had been in various sales positions and other roles where I had to deal with the public frequently. Even though I was able to do my jobs well, I often found myself feeling out of my element.
If it was a one-on-one situation, I was fine.
Being in a group, especially a large group of people I didn’t know, was terrifying. My eyes were always darting for the nearest exit. The mere mention of having to speak in front of people made me break out in a cold sweat and I’d find myself stumbling over words that had flowed so easily on paper.
I had been that way since as long as I could remember.
When I was a kid, I loved seeing my friends but was eager to get home to my little corner with my books and my cat.
At a pool party with the ex’s family one Fourth of July, I was so overwhelmed I went inside and sat on the couch and closed my eyes, just to escape all the hubbub.
He accused me of trying to get attention by going inside and being dramatic.
I can have a flair of drama when the occasion arises but trust me, I am not one to draw attention to myself.
I sputtered and spat out an explanation, which fell on deaf ears. All I wanted was to just be away from so many people.
Loud people. Noisy people.
People asking questions — tons and tons of questions, nosy questions that are none of their business. People making small talk that is maddening.
I hated it, all of it.
A day out around people when I was younger usually resulted in me needing several hours to recover. Now, it’s more like a day. Sometimes longer, depending on the event. Even when it’s people I love and cherish.
Much like when I was a child, I have to retreat to my corner with my books and my cat and the dogs.
I thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Was I antisocial? Why was it some people thrived and looked forward to parties and get togethers, and I was busy finding a way to get out of it?
When I started graduate school several years ago, one of my first psychology classes instructed us to take the Myers Brigg personality test.
I love taking tests, so I was looking forward to seeing what it revealed. My guess was that it was going to say I was an extrovert but with social phobias.
The test didn’t share any info on social phobias, nor did it indicate anything about the severe anxiety disorder I have. No, the test revealed I am an INFJ. Or, in other words — very, very, very much an introvert.
Surely this was wrong.
I took it again. Same thing.
I read the description of the INFJ — Introvert, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging — and found that every single aspect of it rang true.
My need for solitude was normal. The fact that I tend to overthink and overanalyze everything was normal.
The way crowds freak me out and I break into a flop sweat anytime I am called on in a meeting.
How I can normally tell someone is full of bovine waste material before they often open their mouth because I’ve already picked up on subtle cues that let me know they are lying. It may be the intuitive trait, but I can usually see right through their bull caca, no matter how well they think they’ve hidden it.
INFJs typically are the ones that advocate and fight for others. Those moments I do tend to find my voice to speak verbally, it is when I am standing up for someone else or a greater cause.
It made me start to think, maybe the things that I had loathed, and thought were horrible flaws, were actually what were giving me strength.
I’m not outgoing, I am not overly perky. And more than likely, I will cancel plans if I make them and find a way to not do anything that involves more than one other person. Even then, it’s iffy.
But that’s OK.
I am also the one that will observe things someone else may not, especially if it is something important.
I will stand up for the underdog, and I will listen when it really matters.
Even though for most of my life it was a struggle, I am finally finding some peace in being an introvert, and knowing there is absolutely nothing wrong with being one either.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.