Introverts: Steady The Pendulum

As I’ve become older, out of my twenties for a couple of years, I’ve found myself settling into a pattern of reveling in solitude.

When I was younger, I had to be plugged in. There was a driving force behind finding someone, anyone, to meet up with for a movie or drinks. It didn’t matter who it was with or what we were doing, as long as I had a story to share the next day. Inside I felt like I was “loser” if I didn’t go out. Somehow I had failed if I didn’t have plans. I’m not sure if it was out fear of being alone- being forgotten. If I didn’t go out, I’d slip from everyone’s circle in a weird “out of sight, out of mind” scenario or I was just desperate for approval.

It wasn’t a cognitive thought or preconceived plan, but more of a reaction or way of life. I didn’t understand or realize it was a subconscious need until I stopped. I’m not sure why exactly I stopped, probably out of exhaustion and taking a closer look at my spending, but when I did I found that routine was just a distraction. Going out constantly filled time and space and dulled deeper issues. It fulfilled a need I wasn’t getting elsewhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of great times and fantastic memories. I don’t regret that period in my life and I wouldn’t change it. Putting myself out there, in lots of different situations, was an immense learning and growing experience. I lived a lot of life in a short amount of time. However, that obsessive compulsive bunching of experiences reached a conclusion. I feel I finally got it out of my system, I sowed those wild oats. I no longer feel like I’m missing something and I know those who truly care about me will still be there if I don’t always meet up with them for a drink.

In my early and mid twenties my Myers-Briggs personality type was an ENTJ. Looking back, that seems fitting. I was extroverted because I had to be. I wanted to be. I controlled a lot of events and managed a lot of external moving parts and people due to my career. My personality was a reflection of my environment and adapted to who I needed to be to ensure success. It didn’t necessarily come naturally, but my drive and desire to be apart of that world pushed me in that direction.

Later in my twenties, changing careers, and reflecting on the things that worked and things that didn’t, I found a bit more peace and piece of mind. I wasn’t required to be a Field Marshal and those personality traits slowly faded. I found my natural equilibrium, possibly only for this phase of my life, to be a bit more withdrawn and concerned with quality over quantity. I still enjoyed my friends and having drinks, but those moments seemed to resonate more when they had meaning. It felt more significant and special to purposefully spend time with someone because you truly wanted to see them, rather than simply fill time.

I recently revisited the Myers-Briggs test and it now says that I’m an INTP. I know that I greatly admire a lot of qualities the personality projects, but I feel it’s a drastic yoyo from the ENTJ. While my early twenties represented a total extreme, I’m afraid my early thirties are its polar opposite. I fear becoming lost in my introverted tendencies, finding too much contentment in a creative project or a quiet evening with a good meal and inspiring movie. I can lock myself in a room and work for hours and hours without a single conversation and at the end of the day feel satisfied. I feels good to spend my time working towards something, accomplishing goals, but have I substituted one distraction for another? Once a social butterfly and now a worker bee?

The reason I feel concern is because I am now starting to feel guilty on the rare occasions when I do go out. For some reason I now see time as a very precious commodity and I’m squandering it by allowing anything to get in the way of me and a project. This piece of writing for instance- I could be out right now having beers but I’d rather work on this. Admittedly, this piece isn’t all that special and the world would have continued to revolve if I never wrote it. However, it’s apart of a larger picture- one were I need to force myself to take the time to write, whatever it might be, simply to keep in the practice of writing. It keeps the wits sharp and fingers loose which transcends into the novel I’m working on. In order to keep HyL the least bit interesting, it occasionally needs new content. Writing this is an exercise in that, and at the moment a task I value more than drinks.

Where that becomes a problem is if you’re one of my friends. I’m sure my disinterest transcends, and that is not fair. When I do go out, it’s fun and fine but lately there’s been less returned texts. I find it hard to create excuses and lying about why I can’t make it out is petty. Honesty hurts. It feels unjustifiable when I say it out loud and hurts the ears on the other end. It also shouldn’t be so one sided- it’s not right that I only show up when I “want” to. Not that people are looking forward to me gracing them with my presence, but it’s selfish.

Life is about balance- too much or too little of anything is unhealthy. Finding that balance lately has been a struggle. I relate it to writer’s block- the reason you can’t move forward is because you’ve found loopholes in your plot. You can’t summon new words because you can’t make sense of the ones from the past. I’ve only had a few weeks of zen-like reflection to piece together the relentless absurdity of the last year, not a fair amount of time to chart a new course and feel comfortable with what lies ahead. I hope, hope once clarity permeates I can steady the pendulum.

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