I had an epiphany the other day, and it went like this. Some friends of mine were discussing cruises, and one of them said she didn’t think she would like going on one because there would be group dinners and group activities.

I thought: What? That would be so much fun! You’d meet all kinds of new people!

And then I froze up and had this existential WHO AM I? moment.

I realized I’d become… maybe, just a tiny bit… of an extrovert.

On the Myers Briggs personality test, which I first took over 15 years ago, I’d always tested out as an INFJ. It’s a rare type, but in my experience, it’s fairly common among writers. The last time I took it was 5 or 6 years ago, for work. We were discussing how to make things more comfortable for introverts and extroverts, and my fellow introverted co-workers were joking around about putting in a ball pit for the extroverts.

I was so sure of my identity! Sometimes, I wondered how to be more social, but only because I thought I should. I figured that introversion and extroversion were more or less immutable characteristics, and I’d always been introverted.

Besides, I tested way to the introvert side on the Myers-Briggs. The only questions that made me look more introverted were the ones about sharing and self-disclosure, because I’d always been an open book. I was just the kind of open book that wanted to be off on its own corner of the library, or something.

 

 

My Introverted Past

One of my early memories involves being five or six and attending a child’s birthday party. Everyone was playing games, but I sat on the floor staring down. I vaguely wished it was possible for me to do otherwise, but it wasn’t.

At gatherings with relatives for birthdays, I always wanted to go home much, much sooner than we did. I would wait for what seemed like hours for the bliss of going back to my room.

It didn’t win me a lot of friends. In the 5th grade, I invited a bunch of girls to a birthday slumber party, and only two came. And then when I got the Lord of the Rings trilogy from my parents, I completely ignored my two guests and read all night. Wow, Bryn, wonder why you didn’t have friends? Haha.

As an adult, I needed vast amounts of time alone. I married someone who was the same way.

It’s only been in the last couple of years ago that I’ve noticed a shift.

 

The Early Warning Signs

I started suggesting a few more socializing opportunities to people… and getting disappointed on the occasions they didn’t want to do it, because my real life friends are both very busy and complete introverts. (In the past, at least part of me would feel relieved when plans fell through. Now, this literally never happens.)

I started being that person who talks to strangers on the elevator. Before, I was the person who thought, “Why must strangers talk to me on the elevator?”

My new job is quite flexible, and there are some good reasons for working at home on some days. When I’m swamped, I don’t have to take the extra time to get ready and drive in to the office. And when I have conference calls, I don’t have to hunt down a conference room (I would disturb the writers around me if I did conference calls in my cubicle.) Nonetheless, if I worked at home two days in a row, I would feel sort of depressed because I didn’t get to see anybody. Except my dogs, who do count, of course.

Introverts love working at home. I should have realized much sooner that something was up.

 

How I Think It Happened

First of all, I blame social media. I find it very comfortable to interact online, on Facebook (including Facebook groups), on Twitter, and on this blog. In the digital space, I’m even a little bit of a social butterfly. I guess it was a matter of time before that behavior started bleeding over into “real life.”

I also think the new job has made me more extroverted. I’ve met a lot of new people and I’ve been on the phone more. In the past, I didn’t talk on the phone at length to anyone except my parents… like most introverts, I loved texting and hated the phone.

 

I’m Still Adjusting to Life As An Extrovert.

For instance, I’m still getting used to the fact that if I don’t get together with friends (or potential friends!) on the weekend, I’m going to wake up Monday morning feeling grumpy. This past weekend, I mostly worked, but I had my first Board of Directors meeting at The Writers Place in Kansas City, so I didn’t feel completely isolated.

I’m realizing that I don’t mind being busy at my job or working hard… as long as I have time to be social. Even a little break helps!

I’m thinking ahead to my summer and considering how to be more social and how to find opportunities to connect with other people.

At work, I’m going to start setting up more lunches and coffee breaks with people.

It’s all very new, but I think I’ll like being more outgoing.

 

Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert? Have you ever made a change from one to the other? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Thanks so much for reading, and have a social or non-social week… whatever you prefer!