You may not be who you think you are.
Today, more than ever before, you need to understand who you are and what you need to stay mentally well.
So, come alongside, and I’ll tell you a story of how I’ve lived in all three of these beautiful lands – Extrovert-shire, Introvert-shire, and Ambivert-shire – and how I’ve come to embrace who I am today…
Dazed and Confused
I pushed through the backdoor, tugged off my boots, and left them lying in the middle of the entrance rug. Walking into the living room, I collapsed into the softness of our couch and closed my eyes. I took a deep breath.
I felt drained. But, why?
Only a few minutes before, I had been sipping rich coffee and laughing with my friend in her kitchen. We’d had a wonderful visit during which time I had felt cheerful and energetic.
Yet, as soon as I came home, all I wanted to do was lie down and decompress. This made no sense to me; I was an extrovert…
An Extroverted Childhood
As a child, I was often one of the loudest, most outgoing people in a room. I lived for family gatherings, school, and birthday parties.
When I was a teenager and young adult, the desire to be around my peers increased. Friends loved to have me around because I was dramatic and energetic. My expressive personality made them laugh, and I thrived on the attention. I seemed to bring energy to parties, and I also felt energized by those who were there. I loved being with people.
Always Better to Be with Someone Than to Be Alone
As an adult, I married and entered motherhood. My energy continued.
Sure, I had times when I was so exhausted that I thought I might die if I had to get up just one more time for my crying child; but most of the time, I was an enthusiastic mom.
I enjoyed the busyness of toddlers running around my feet. They were free to pull pots and pans and bowls out of every cupboard. I simply stepped over them and continued cooking or washing my dishes; I didn’t mind. We were together, and we were happy.
At times, if I found myself starved for adult interaction, I’d pack up my toddlers to visit my sister, my mom, or my friends. This is how I nurtured my sanity and cared for my soul.
It was always better to be with someone than to be alone.
That is, until it wasn’t.
Depression Sets In
My extroverted disposition all but disappeared several years ago due to a heartbreaking series of events that occurred within a short period of time. The stress from these traumas had a cumulative effect on my body and soul until it reached a level where I couldn’t cope.
I became deeply depressed; this is when self-care took on a whole new look for me.
An Introverted Makeover
Almost overnight, it seemed, I became an introvert.
I spent hours upon hours reading, journaling, thinking, resting, and praying. I felt I couldn’t get enough time alone – not to wallow in, but to heal.
This was foreign territory to me:
- Suddenly, a crowded room no longer felt energizing, but overwhelming.
- The constant chattering of children became less comforting and more testing.
- Family gatherings didn’t rejuvenate me; they tired me.
Over time, however, and as I continued to heal emotionally, my social anxiety diminished. I became more comfortable in groups, and I desired to engage with other people.
It seemed I was slowly returning to my previous self.
Years passed. My depression withdrew. I became expressive, outgoing, energetic, and joyful again; yet, surprisingly, the introverted tendencies also remained.
That day on my couch after I had been visiting with my friend, I felt so confused. I began to question why there seemed to be two versions of me: sociable me and withdrawn me. I wanted to understand what was happening with my roller-coaster emotions.
If I wasn’t fully an extrovert, and I wasn’t fully an introvert, then what was I?Tweet
What’s an Ambivert?
Since then, I’ve discovered that I’m an ambivert – both an extrovert and an introvert:
- I’m comfortable in groups and usually have a wonderful time; but I get tired if I’m around people too much.
- I don’t feel shy about being the center of attention; but I’d just as well want someone else to be.
- Those who meet me in certain settings think I’m highly social; while others think I’m quiet.
- I can thoroughly enjoy a long visit or outing with others; but I can just as easily enjoy being alone all day.
Understanding who I’ve become has allowed me to create a new self-care plan that can be summed up in one word: self-awareness.
My needs fluctuate so drastically, that I must constantly ask myself, “What am I feeling right now? What do I need?”
An Adjusted Look at Self-Care
I used to feel guilty if, when our family arrived home after a social event, I felt tired and irritable. Hadn’t I just been laughing, joking, and happy when we were out? Why did I feel grouchy after we got home? But now, I simply remind myself that I truly did have a good time and that it’s okay for me to need a half-hour break by myself to recharge afterward.
On the other hand, if I’ve spent many days alone and find myself feeling down, I soon realize that I haven’t been filling enough of my social needs. I’ve forgotten that I need people. So, I’ll arrange a coffee date with a friend or visit a family member; this will refresh and energize me.
If I’ve had a full schedule all week and then find myself snapping at the kids during Saturday house-cleaning, I’ll try to remind myself that a tidy house is not more important than my children’s tender hearts or my need to be alone. I’ll go to my room and journal, pray, read, or take a short nap.
The Future Me
Sometimes, I wonder: will I remain an ambivert, or will life events change me yet again? Only time will tell. Meanwhile,
I embrace who I am today.Tweet
Are You an Extrovert, Introvert, or Ambivert?
After reading about my experiences, how are you feeling about your own self-care practices? Do you recognize yourself in any part of my story? Are there changes you need to make to take better care of who you are and what you need?
I hope that by reading my story, you are encouraged to accept and embrace who you are today.
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