People don’t believe I’m an introvert. I’m on the radio, I speak in public, I have a very outgoing attitude on social media, but in real life? I hide.
Being around other people is terrifying to me. Sort of. If I know you and we have rapport, I will cling to your arm and smother you with attention, regale you with stories, and not shut up.
But go to an event by myself and .. well, I wander. I wander to look busy. I wander to find that arm of someone I know and can cling to. I wander to look for an exit so I can ghost and leave.
At the Dad 2.0 Summit, where I know dozens of guys, I was in my room each night by 8pm. I made plans with some to go out for dinner, but after waiting in the lobby and them being late, I got nervous and went to my room to .. basically .. hide.
I can’t make sense of it. I don’t know why I do it. But it happens a lot.
*accepts invitation to a party* *immediately begins thinking of excuses to get out of going*
— Introvert Life (@IntrovertLiving) December 31, 2015
A few years ago the light went on for me when I was asked to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test before heading out to a media event with Ford. I found out I’m an INTJ and so much about myself suddenly made sense.
I – Introversion preferred to extraversion: INTJs tend to be quiet and reserved. They generally prefer interacting with a few close friends rather than a wide circle of acquaintances, and they expend energy in social situations (whereas extroverts gain energy).
N – Intuition preferred to sensing: INTJs tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus their attention on the big picture rather than the details and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities.
T – Thinking preferred to feeling: INTJs tend to value objective criteria above personal preference or sentiment. When making decisions they generally give more weight to logic than to social considerations.
J – Judgment preferred to perception: INTJs tend to plan their activities and make decisions early. They derive a sense of control through predictability, which to perceptive types may seem limiting.[via Wikipedia]
My introversion is interpreted as aloofness by many and it leads to having a short list of tight friends. It leads to not many invitations to social events because, well, I‘m not good at them.
When I get invited to many brand launches or media events, I get invited. Often I don’t get a +1. I can’t bring a security blanket of my spouse or another friend.
When the invite comes, I’m excited. I’m filled with anticipation, I am flattered to be on the list. But .. my inside tumbling tummy eventually rises to where I .. stay home.
Even when I do go, it can be unnerving. At a recent event where I was a judge for a food competition, I was seated next to the person with the exact opposite personality as me. She was gregarious as all hell, quirky, funny, and wouldn’t stop talking. I was quiet, reserved, focussed on taking my notes, doing my “job” for the event. When the mic came to our table, she called out my introversion to the crowd trying to make a joke that nobody got.
Which, to be honest, hurt.
And so when the next invite comes around I get excited until it’s almost time to go and then I remember how I crashed and burned so hard the last time and was called out and .. I don’t go.
I have another event I’ve been invited to later this week. Another solo venture, no plus ones allowed. I don’t know who else will be going. Today, I’m excited for the event. 2 hours before it? Well that’s an entirely other story now, isn’t it?
I’m heading off to that Dad 2.0 Summit again in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to seeing the guys, and I’ll try my damndest to not sit in my room. I got a roommate to be a wingman, and I’ll go out. Or at least I’ll try.
You’ll hear a lot about mental health this week. Those Dads in the group are talking about it, many open about their struggles with mental health. It was the nudge I needed to reach out. I walked in to my boss’ office and asked him about our benefits plan. I found out two other colleagues in the building have their own struggles, so I talked to them.
I’m not alone.
I’m done with my anxiety, lack of confidence, fear, and uncertainty in my life. So I made an appointment to talk to someone about it.
If you’re one of the gregarious types out there, don’t mock the introverts in the world. Be the wingman they need for support. Call them, text them, reach out. Because while I found the strength to call on my own, others need someone to do it for them.