Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Extrovert or Introvert?

Anyone reading this who has ever known me would say that I was/am a textbook extrovert. I am married to a textbook introvert. Once I understood the difference, many things fell into place and I forgave him for many attitudes that I did not understand.

Keeping this simple—you can Google this—the extrovert is energized by people and the introvert is worn out by them. The introvert MUST have time to recharge. This does NOT mean the introvert is shy, but he or she must have time to refuel. If they are parents of small children, their partner must understand this and help (relieve) them.

I have always been a people person. Everything I did professionally involved people. I worked in customer service in three banks, and was a church secretary in three churches—talk about customer service! Working in an art museum was much like a church, I just didn't have the weekly bulletin. A social worker, well that speaks for itself.

I had two children who were in a thousand things and I went to them. I met other parents, formed friendships and had them into our home. I have worked on five class reunions and that involved many, many interactions. I have always been active in church.

People, people, people.

On the other hand, I recognized when my husband needed recharging. While he was “the BOMB” as a host at his daughter’s wedding, and later at his son’s wedding, I figured he wouldn't talk to me for three days. Just recharging, that’s all. Nothing personal. Actually, after our son’s wedding, he was fine.

He is a very gracious man; but I will say this—he keeps me grounded. I would choose to be in everything.

That is, until I retired.

I have changed. While I still love people, I do not have to be with them ALL THE TIME. I love and need my alone time, or my time with just me and my husband. I love my exercise class pals, my church choir mates and my Bible study gals. Once in a while, I have two things going on in one day, but rarely. I just wear out and need to refuel.

Soon, my class reunion committee will regroup. They are a bunch of fine people and we may have newcomers—seems like we always do. That’s a good thing, because none of us knows what’s going to happen in the next five years.

I really do like all these folks—so how did I turn into an introvert?

Doing all of this after my work day has worn me out. Forty years of being everything to everyone has just worn.me.out.

My world on this day.
Now, I enjoy my time alone at home as much as lunch with my friends. I write this on a quiet winter afternoon. There is new snow out my window and a sense of peace. I don’t even have any music on right now and I love music. Quiet is good. I find that I actually LIKE my husband—if you had asked me about that before retirement, I wasn't so sure about it. We respect each other’s needs for activity and quiet. Sometimes—well MOST times—we don’t do things together, but we respect each other’s need to do whatever it is.

Maybe I just need that “recharging” because I am older. When I think of all the things I did at certain times, it wears me out just to think about it! Period. Maybe I am just half-and-half, depending on the day.

Make no mistake about it, when I have to do the people thing, I gird my loins and just do it. I prefer smaller groups and I HATE speaking in public—but I still get what needs to be done done.

So I don’t know whether this is a conversion, or just a gradual change. Or just getting old. (I am not cranky, just the opposite). But, I am OK with it.


  1. I think many of us are in the same place, Denise. I used to love entertaining big crowds of people -- being able to pull off dinner for 20 on my own. Now I find that I prefer a group of 6 or 8 max. Mostly it's because I want time to visit with everyone and not just be the 'cook/server'. I also used to love to do group activities with many people, but now the thought of going to dinner or lunch with 12+ people just sounds like work!

    1. As long as I don't have to cook or clean up, I'm good at any restaurant. Haha!

  2. This reflects my own thinking. I'd much rather be with a few people now than a big group -- although, Denise, I agree -- I'm better in a big group if I'm not doing the cooking or clean up :) I have always moved between the need to be with people and then some time alone to regroup. The biggest difference for me at this stage is that I don't feel guilty when I pull back and have down time. Earlier in life I was always stressing about what I should be doing when I pulled back. Now I move back and forth between people time and alone time and just cherish both and don't feel guilty anymore -- that's really nice!

    1. I hear you. I loved having my babies because it gave me an excuse to say positively NO! (And I was a stay at home Mom, but ppl still ask things of you, as you know)