Can a self declared introvert actually be a secret extrovert?
Have you ever told yourself and others a story that might not be true? No, not a lie, a story that you were convinced was true.
For the last 30 odd years I’ve been telling myself I’m an Introvert. Not only have I been telling myself I was an introvert I’ve been telling the world too. It was obvious to me and I was happy being an introvert. And then came March 2020.
It must be said the world didn’t believe I was an introvert. The world saw this larger than life, loud character that was obviously an extrovert. After all my jobs have involved me being the centre of attention. I’d spent 30 years standing up in front of groups of 10’s of people, sometimes 100s of people. Over the years I’ve stood in front of possibly 10s of thousands of people trying to help them grow and develop, often entertaining them. “Come on” said the world “it’s obvious you are an extrovert”
They didn’t see me “off stage”. My very small social circle. My dislike of social events preferring a book, Ok I went to football every other weekend with 30 thousand plus other people but sometimes on my own not with other people. I liked nothing less to be at home, just me and my partner, reading a book. I even run on my own as far away from other people as I can get.
It was clear to me that the story I told myself and the word was true………..
I was an introvert!
And then came March 2020. To be precise March 23 rd 2020.
The circumstances are well known so I don’t need to go into the detail. All of us found ourselves at home. Working at home. Staying at home. Only going out for essential shopping. Only going out for long runs, alone. Only seeing other people by the technology we all became very good at very quickly (apart from our housemates or for me my partner).
My story was good. I’d be fine not physically being with the people I work with, I’m an introvert. I’d be fine not physically spending all day every day out in the world. I’m an introvert.
By day six it turned out my story had been lying to me!
I missed people badly. I missed their energy. I missed physically being with them. I missed the motivation they gave me. I was giving out so much energy on the daily virtual team get together in the hope to get the same energy back, my partner was actually scared for me.
I shared this with my closest colleague, friend and business partner and she said “well that’s obvious, you’re an extrovert… you’ve always been an extrovert”.
So my question for myself is about the story I have been telling myself for the last 30 years. Why did I tell myself that I’m an introvert? What purpose did it serve? Why did I cling on to it for all these years?
Somewhere in my dim and distant past the story was possibly partially true. Not so much an introvert as an extravert who lacked confidence. My way of gaining confidence was to pretend, to act as confident. It suited me to tell myself that I was an introvert pretending to be an extravert rather than an unconfident extravert. The story stuck, like stories and over the years became less and less relevant and less and less helpful.
However our stories hang around even if we no longer need them. We all tell ourselves these types of stories. Some of them are helpful, they grow us, support us, and nurture us. Some of our stories shrink us, they hinder us.
It took what will be an extraordinary moment in the world’s history for me to realise that this particular story wouldn’t help me anymore. For me to truly manage myself and my response to circumstances I need to recognise the true story of myself and embrace it.
For me to be able to grow and be my best it shouldn’t need a major event to recognise the stories that grow me. The data was all there for me. The evidence of others observations. The information from my own behaviour.
We need to constantly seek out the data and use it to question our stories. We need to look at ourselves from all angles and all eyes not just the well told stories in our minds.
When was the last time you questioned your stories? What stories are you telling yourself that are no longer true or you no longer need?
Or maybe I’m an ambivert, but that’s another story.
Chris Watt – Free Your Inner Alice
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