I recently lost my voice. Again. And no, I’m not sick and I don’t have COVID, people.
But a few times a year since the time I was a teenager, I lose my voice when I’ve overdone it and I’m exhausted. There is no real medical reason for me to lose my voice, but I have medically diagnosed myself (always a good idea) with stress-induced laryngitis that often seems to follow periods where I’m talking a lot or not getting enough sleep. I think it’s my body’s way of giving me a break from having to talk.
Because you see, I am an introvert stuck in an extrovert’s body.
Most people would not guess that I’m an introvert. I coach high-energy, high-volume fitness classes on a daily basis. I am the first person to volunteer to help with a project. I make a point to introduce myself to new or shy people at events. I was a cheerleader, for pity’s sake. I am active on social media and have no problem with public speaking.
But I am, in fact, an introvert who loves to do extroverted things.
It was psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s who coined the terms ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’. He defined these personality types by how they get and spend their energy. Introverts turn to their minds to recharge and extroverts seek out other people for their energy needs.
By this definition, I am a classic introvert.
I find parties and crowds a bit overwhelming. I would usually much prefer to curl up on the sofa with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a good book to a raging party. When I get home after a night out, I can feel a bit drained or, conversely, hyper-stimulated so that it’s hard to go to sleep.
I am quite naturally shy and live in my head. I place a high value on quality friendships and I will send hours in enjoyable 1:1 conversation. I am also completely comfortable with companionable silence. I dread small talk and am really rubbish at it, in my opinion. I have a deep-seated need to scratch beneath the surface on topics, so if you ask me how things are going, I’m quite likely to talk about a good book that I read or to ask you questions about your childhood and your opinions on politics.
I am someone who needs a deeper purpose to exist for my life and I arrange my life to give me space to dive deep into my hobbies and interests. I can be quite myopic in focus when I fall in love with a hobby or interest and I am ruthlessly hard on myself. I have worked since the time I was 16. The jobs that I have enjoyed the most have had absolutely nothing to do with money or prestige, but instead had everything to do with serving some greater good. My favorite part of coaching is empowering people to believe in themselves and I have literally worked for nothing because I love it so much.
Nobody is ever shocked that I was a cheerleader, but most people would never guess that I’m an introvert, but because so many of the things that I love to do and place value on necessitating an outgoing personality, I make a conscious effort to push past my natural awkwardness.
As an introvert living in an extrovert’s body, here are a few things I’d like you to know on behalf of my fellow introverts:
- When we’re quiet, it doesn’t mean that we’re angry, sad, or uninterested. Being quiet is our way of recharging and restoring our energy levels.
- We don’t want to be alone all the time. That would make us sad. We love spending time with people we care about and we need that village around us. We’re 100% invested when we’re with you, so we need some time afterward to decompress.
- Because we’re so good at listening and existing in silence, we make for excellent friends and we have a zero bull**** tolerance meter. We will absolutely shut down if you yell at us, so please don’t do it because it’s also not very nice and can’t we all just get along?
- We don’t always have the answer at the moment you ask us a question. We need to process our thoughts, but it doesn’t mean that we’re ignoring you or not considering your feelings.
- Please don’t call us and we probably won’t call you unless you’re our grandma and can’t figure out how to make that darn iPhone work. We’re much more comfortable with the written word, so please text us or email or carrier pigeon, whatever floats your boat, but if you call us, we will probably send you to voicemail. And we will never listen to that voicemail. #Truth
Perhaps you can relate? Or maybe not?
We’re all unique little butterflies in our own right, so no two extroverts, and no two introverts, are entirely the same, so if you’re an introvert who doesn’t identify with the above or an extrovert who sees themselves in the introvert’s description, I silently and respectfully validate your experience and I want to hear your comments! But as long as you write, not call, me with them.
“Sometimes I just want to walk in silence, but I am neither sad nor lonely.” ~Debra Temple