How to be an introvert pretending to be extrovert

I am away this week. I left my house first thing this morning, drove two and a half hours to then get collected by someone else to drive another two and a half hours to our destination.

I have two identical cases in the back – the one filled with clothes I will wear while I am at my conference,  and the other case – left in my car containing clothes I hope to be brave enough to wear on my way home.

Hidden like a guilty secret, in the hopes that they are not discovered, but which case contains the costumes?

I am a quiet person – I have been professionally blending in with my surroundings for as long as I can remember.

Every time we moved I would blend in so that I would not be picked on, every place I have worked I blend in so that I can be a team player. Every conversation I have I try to understand others views so that I can find middle ground. I am a consummate chameleon.

A large part of this journey for me is one of self discovery – I am trying to strip back every aspect of my life and understand who I am at my core.

My personal life exploded, the person I thought I was blown apart over years of marriage to someone who did not share my affection.

My friends – physically miles away, all with their own lives, families, and problems – we never meet and hang out like we used to do and yet they matter to me, their respect and friendships are treasured – but how can I be sociable without ever seeing my friends and stoking those friendships?

My work is frustrating – I am supposed to be going places, taking the people I work with on a journey where the sole aim is to move forwards, and yet am met with total apathy, I do not have the capacity to sit and make idle chit chat with someone who does not really want me there.

In my work I am a leader, I encourage others, I support them, I offer space for people to be themselves, and my aim is to see them grow as individuals. I manage my own time and I consider myself extremely fortunate to do what I do, but in order to do that I need to be outgoing and able to approach and enter someone else’s space.

Conferences are a mixed bag – there are always people that I know and get on well with and love to spend time catching up, the flip side to that is that there are always people there that I do not know and am obligated to talk to, to introduce myself to and am expected to open up to. As an introvert I find that exhausting – I seek relationships with people, I find fulfilment in being able to connect with the world and yet all I really want to do is what I have done tonight – run back to my room, put my headphones on and listen to some relaxing music.  I use the travelling as an excuse, normally I force myself to chat well after the session has ended but as tonight’s session was on mindfulness and self resilience I felt able to leave as soon as was physically polite to do so.

One thing that I struggled with is the idea that it is okay to be who we are.

I agree with the sentiment and would echo it to anyone, and yet tonight I sit pondering once again who I am, am I supposed to be that nice quiet guy sitting in the corner,  if I could be in this room with these people presenting female, would I? Could I still be me?

It is chatting to the women that makes me most comfortable and talking to most of the men is a struggle to find something to talk about – why is it such a difficult thing to do?

In this place my work is more important than my gender, my experiences we are told, count, for no matter who we are we have worth and we have skills and perspectives that others don’t.

I sit quietly, looking at the room, disconnected, present yet not really here.

Does any of this apply to me? I know I am resilient, my life has shown me that I can wade through just about anything – but doing that in a way which allows me to learn from it, to thrive from the experience, to grow, to appreciate it while I am going through it.

I’m not sure I can.

Being who I am, knowing who I am, accepting who I am – those are the hard parts.

XX

5 thoughts on “How to be an introvert pretending to be extrovert

  1. Hi Dee, my experience is very similar to yours. I’m retired now (62 years old) but worked in a high tech industry for my career in marketing and business development. I also often had to work directly with internal people as well as external, making it appear that I was comfortable with all that when in fact I was often just the opposite. I also used “chameleon” to describe myself to my therapist.

    “One thing that I struggled with is the idea that it is okay to be who we are.”

    I sure struggled with that too. It got to be too much and I finally returned to therapy about 5 years ago and, finally, told him all that had been going on for me gender-wise since my earliest memories. Over that first year (2014) I did a lot of research to determine an understanding of what it means to be trans, where it originates, etc. And then lots more work to determine that indeed I am trans. And then a fair amount work trying to figure out where I needed to reside under the trans umbrella.

    For the past 2 years I’ve been very slowly and soberly exploring my needs and, as it turns out. I’m having GCS and breast augmentation surgeries tomorrow. My transition is almost all complete; I guess it will be by the end of this year.

    It’s been very scary at times. and embarrassing too. But there really is freedom in authenticity. We are valid, simply examples of normal human diversity. Easy to say and perhaps hard to accept but it’s quite true.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Emma, while you have gone much further down this road than I it is nice to see a response that acknowledges this truth: “It’s been very scary at times. and embarrassing too. ” I do hope everything goes smoothly and as painlessly as possible for you!

      Like

  2. Hi Dee, I’ve had to play the part of extrovert so many times during my life. I used humor as a cover most of my life. It is one of the survival techniques we learn once we realize we are different. Fitting in is seemingly not as hard for others. It always has been for me. I can relate to your experience of sitting there and feeling completely disconnected from those around you. I hope you’re doing ok. Take care my friend.

    Susan R🌷

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Susan, “I used humor as a cover most of my life. It is one of the survival techniques we learn once we realise we are different.” Does it count if we are not aware that’s why we use humour? Being told we could be ourselves was meant to reassure us, in my circumstances though it just had the opposite effect. I am okay though thank you.
      🙂

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