Bridging the I / E divide

I’m afraid of Introverts. Or at least I have been. The idea that they want to go off and be alone to “recharge” makes me self-conscious. When I’m stressed or anxious the idea of being alone makes my vision go narrow and my breath get shallow.

Like this summer — I had a crappy break up and the very first thing I did was schedule 3 or 4 appointments every day for 3 weeks. Breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner – each with a different friend or group. That is hardcore survival for an Extrovert.

My best friend is an Introvert and when things get rough for her, she needs cave time – even her Facebook feed goes dim. What’s happening in there, I wonder? And why doesn’t she want to go to dinner? Did I say something wrong the last time we talked? Or did I talk too much about myself? Or maybe I offended her in some way?

If I can find a way to blame myself, I do – every time.

But this past weekend I think I found a bridge across the I/E divide.

I went to Vegas with my mom and sisters and had a fabulous time seeing shows, gambling, shopping, playing Pinball (it’s a family thing) and eating at some of the best restaurants in the world. I love my family. I love being with my family. But every couple hours or so I kept thinking, “hmmm, if I could have about an hour of alone time our next activity would be so much more fun.”

My family often jokes that I sleep a lot when I’m with them. I call it Selective Narcolepsy. But falling asleep in Vegas isn’t really an option – so instead I just kept on having fun, but feeling spent and out of juice.

That’s when it hit me: Introverts must feel this way all the time. I really got that it wasn’t about me at all when my best friend needs alone time.

I loved being with my mom and sisters, I just didn’t have the mental or emotional capacity to be as present and engaged as I wanted to be – I wasn’t giving my best because my best needed quiet time.

I bet there aren’t many people who can say they found their inner Introvert in Las Vegas – but I found mine there and I’m not sorry I did because now, I’m a little less afraid of Introverts. I can see now that taking alone time is actually a gift Introverts give to the people they love so they can be more themselves when they are with us.

My best friend and I have known each other for 22 years. I seriously can’t believe I just figured this out – and in Vegas of all places. But now that I’ve bridged the I/E divide I understand her a little better and see her a little more clearly.

Where do you fall on the Introvert to Extrovert scale? Have you bridged the I/E divide? I want to hear from you!

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