childhood

My Own Truman Show: Being an introverted extrovert

I get out of the elevator and animatedly wave to the building staff at the front desk wishing them a great day ahead and, if time permits, sharing a New York anecdote as I am the New York girl in the building. I then get into the Uber car and I inquire as to how the driver is doing and I proceed to engage in a long engaged conversation that lasts the full 20 minute car ride. Often, I laugh pretty hard at the shared Uber stories (a post for another time).

I arrive at my job location, wave goodbye to the Uber driver and hop on in to work. I wish everyone, one by one, a great morning. At times, I stop for more in depth conversations about totally random tidbits. Eventually I make it to my office, drop my handbag and head out to the back of the office to say “hi” to everyone else. At some point, I make it back to my office where I proceed to answer my emails in extremely polite and “sandwiched” critiques and feedback. I then have meeting upon meeting where I dig into protocols, systems, HR issues and assorted big boss problems.  At 4:40pm the other Friday, a team member cane to me hyperventilating because she felt she had no one to turn to. I listened, placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled. That meeting I just described is typical of what I encounter each day at work. I smile, I joke and I sympathetically nod. I step out of my office and go to peoples cubicles to chat. Then at some point I go home, wave hello and stop to talk to people in the lobby.

 

In a way, that daylong series of interactions remind me of the Truman Show movie where Truman (played by Jim Carey) walks out each morning and says to his (fake) neighbors “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya: Good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”  At times I feel like I have created my own unreal reality show that I get to participate in each day.

 

Once I get to my apartment, I get dressed and go to work out.  I avoid everyone in that routine. I barely say hello to anyone in the gym. I prefer to just keep to myself. I blast my music and run, run, run.  I do not like talking to people while I work out. I believe many others would note that they feel the same.  In that aspect I am fairly normal. Here is the thing.  My not wanting to talk to anyone at the gym is how I actually feel most of the day. I am an introvert. I am an introverted extrovert. Or put another way, I am an outgoing introvert. Doesn’t sound right? Honestly, not everyone falls into a neat box of pure extrovert and pure introvert.

 

I grew up performing yet I was shy.   I hate large group gatherings. I far prefer small group home affairs to 20 people restaurant outings. How can you even hear anyone in such a situation and what happens when you are seated to a non-conversationalist. Maybe I am not an introvert but am instead a curmudgeon. That could be.  I do know I am a bit shy. My outgoing persona at work and as a leader, is just that: a persona. I see these interactions as a role I am acting out. My mother trained me to be a performer.  My role is that of outgoing, vibrant, energized, dynamic leader.  And for an introvert that is a lot of hard work. By the end of the day, I want to just collapse onto my bed. Being an outgoing introvert is taxing on the mind and body. No wonder my shoulders are so tense. And I hate massages so my shoulders stay completed lopsided from the tension. This weekend, I treated myself to a day at home where I binged watched all sorts of bad television. I am ready for the week.

What is an outgoing introvert to do? I tell you what. I need a trip to tahiti where I can do nothing, see no one and just sip a cool Mai Tai, Pina Colada or ginger margarita.  Time to drop the mic and go to sleep.

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15 replies »

  1. I’ll be the introvert next to you on the beach, book in hand, earphones on. I used to be an extrovert despite my childhood in which those extroverted tendencies were fodder for bullying (I got noticed, so I was picked on). By high school, I had learned to be invisible. College brought alcohol which spawned the drunken extrovert I was to be for the next 10 or so years. Menopause drove me deeper into my introvert to the point where I now struggle with social anxiety on a mild scale. I say mild because as my social circle ages, it’s gotten to be less about big events and more about the small intimate affairs that don’t trigger my fear. I applaud you for being able to manage the duality.

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  2. I can relate to this. Perhaps not as extremely, because I didn’t do it as well, but I did it when I was boss. I think it is the necessity of being the boss, if you want the people who work for you to feel like they can approach you and that you will help them.

    But I’m a big introvert most of the time. I can just chameleon myself very well. I can be exhausting though. I don’t miss it.

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  3. Some people don’t understand this. Especially a client at work – every Monday I’d be asked what happened over the weekend and I’ll just say that I stayed home. She doesn’t get it. Every time.

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  4. Yup, you hit the nail on the head. I am also an introvert and had never really thought of my regular extroverted displays during the day as a persona. Makes sense since I like performing (but hate the nerves). Maybe you should open up a beach bar where we can all recover, without speaking to each other 🙂

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  5. Ground hog day has nothing on you Mimi. I can picture you high-fiving all and sundry en route to the office. Cheerily and cheesily winking and nodding ( Carey style) “Have a great day”.

    Take a look at “The Vert in the Middle is Me” an earlier blog I penned.

    The best you get from an Australian extrovert is “Gidday Mate – How’s it hanging”B

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  6. As an extroverted introvert, who sometimes feels like I need to put on a show or a happy face in order to ingratiate myself in some places/with some people, can I be the yin to your yang and join all the members only at the above-suggested bar?

    Interestingly, on this Valentine’s Day, I received the message below from my extremely (at least socially) introverted husband.

    “Happy Valentines Day to my Dearest Love.

    Thank God … I came to my senses and realized that I could not live without you twenty-six + years ago. That shower will forever be the best remembrance of my life.
    You mean the world to me along with the two beautiful daughters you nurtured raised and matured into images of you.
    No man could ever ask of more and be any happier!

    I Love You”

    Am I lucky or what? I’d even forgotten that the shower encounter had happened on Feb. 14.

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