Introvert or Extrovert?

Have you thought about whether you are an introvert or an extrovert? If you have taken the Myers-Briggs test the first letter tells you what you are. Mine says E for extrovert, and few of you who know me would argue with that, but lately I am not convinced this is correct. I'm listening to Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking and I'm feeling like I identify with as many introverted characteristics as I do extroverted ones. Maybe more. Tonight I will be attending her lecture at Fountain Street Church and I am curious if she will shed any light on this for me.

It has always confused me when my children (or even some of my adult friends) claim that they are bored. I cannot remember the last time I was bored. It might go back to when my first baby, who is now 21, had me up in the middle of the night. Cold and dark, with my "hands" occupied feeding baby, I found myself bored and maybe a little frustrated that I was awake and not accomplishing anything. Used to being a "doer" and a "mover" through life, I resented the quiet, dark, unproductive time.

Looking back on it now, how I wish I would have embraced it. As the noise of life grows ever louder around me, I crave that silence. And yet by all accounts, I am an extrovert. Energized by conversations and collaboration, I came home from a vision board workshop I led a few weeks ago so exhilarated my son was actually concerned I had indulged in too much caffeine.

I hadn't. I was high on connection. I felt on fire.

So why then is an extrovert like me also deliberately searching out quiet blocks of solitude?

While I am energized with action and ideas after a deep conversation with a person or a group of people, I also find that I get easily distracted if there is too much energy around me. I almost cannot stop thinking, therefore nothing gets done. But put me in an office all by myself and I get distracted as well. I get sluggish and search for unproductive ways to get energized; I check a little facebook or read a blogpost or two.  The last place I worked I was given a private office for the first time ever and I rarely felt productive in it. I missed the interaction and the collaboration of others. I could concentrate, but I wasn't very energized.

Confused about me? I am, too. So moving forward, my plan is to keep observing things like when I get my best ideas and when I am most productive. It may be that I truly need a mix of both "people time" for energy, and solitude for focus, in order to accomplish.

Perhaps that is why I am having such a hard time determining my next step. Maybe my ideal job is one I need to create for myself. A mix of collaboration and connection time combined with quieter blocks of solitude. Can you be half introvert and half extrovert?

Hmmm food for thought on an inspired Wednesday.