Monday, January 19, 2009

Introverts Unite!

Oh, man, I seem to have had the kind of weekend I need a weekend to recover from, since I'm still dragging and groggy. It wasn't that crazy, just a party and a wedding, but I think I maxed out my introversion when combined with the January agoraphobia, which means I used up all my emotional energy reserves. At this time of year, just leaving the house requires an act of will that is draining. I have fun while I'm out once I get past the leaving-home phase, but then that means I'm more tired than I usually would be afterward. And the extreme introversion means that social occasions are tiring, even if they're fun.

One of the most life-changing moments I've had in understanding myself was the first time I took an official Myers-Briggs personality assessment. It was at a professional conference, and they gave all the attendees the official test. I was really surprised when it showed that I was pretty extreme on the introvert scale. I'd been thinking in the more common usage of the term and because I'm really talkative and generally pretty bubbly and outgoing, I thought that meant I was an extrovert. That meant I didn't know what was wrong with me when I looked forward to quiet evenings at home and wasn't the life of the party.

But in this sense, the introversion/extroversion scale just comes down to where you get your energy. Some draw their energy from being around other people. They go out and interact with people to rev themselves up. Those are extroverts. Then there are people who need to be alone to recharge their batteries and who use up their energy in interacting with people. Those are introverts. Being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean you're shy, quiet or not particularly social. It just means you need a certain amount of alone time in order to be social. Introverts are more likely to have a few close friends than a huge social circle, and when someone reaches that close, trusted state, being with that person can be almost as good as being alone and isn't as draining as being in a crowd.

This isn't tested on the Myers-Briggs, but I think I'm also pretty high on the empathy scale, in that I tend to pick up on and even mirror other people's emotions. I have this odd quirk with live theater, where if the actors are really into their performances, I'll cry, no matter what the actual emotional content of the show is. It's almost like I'm picking up on their emotions, and the tears are my outlet. I'm more drained from situations where the people around me are stressed, which is why I'm less and less fond of the RWA national conference. So many people there have this idea that this event is absolutely crucial to their future careers, and it's exhausting, even if I have no expectations for my own career. There are more people at a WorldCon, but I don't find that nearly as tiring because most of the people are there just to have fun.

I think weddings come in very high on the stress scale, so they're tiring for me. With this one, I also helped set up and clean up, and then had to do some emergency assisting with finishing the cake. Then I provided the "something borrowed" when the chain on the bride's necklace broke right before the ceremony, and I happened to be wearing a plain gold chain in the right length. That's my one piece of "real" jewelry, and it's a lucky piece in that I won it in a promotional drawing at a jewelry store. So now even if I'm not married, my jewelry has been.

And now to maybe take a walk and then pump more caffeine into my system to see if I can make my brain function.

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