Photo Credit: Flickr/h.koppdelaneyThe first time I read the definition for an introverted extrovert, I felt so validated I could hardly stand myself. I felt like someone actually got it. 

When I'm in the studio on Sunday, among my potter pals, I am usually pretty happy. I'm chatty and I enjoy the company of my friends as we learn new skills, work on our projects and cheer each other on when a new milestone is reached. Fairly recently, I was talking with a friend while glazing, and remarked how much he enjoyed my "unbridled extroversion." (Potters it seems, love words as much as they love clay - I fit right in!) I laughed and tried to explain that I am anything but an extrovert. I have moments of extroversion. And they are usually followed by a bout of introversion as recovery. 

His gaze in return was dubious at best. 

I'm used to this. People in my work environment and in this one, almost always classify me as an extrovert. And without going too far into ethereal matters, I blame it on all the Leo in my birth chart. I'm in marketing and communication. I make a living by broadcasting thoughts and ideas - which requires I be able to properly communicate them. I can step into that role and do it with good result, but it is not generally who I am. I do it, because I understand the logic and science to it. Words and the expression of them has always fascinated me, so it was a natural profession for me to migrate into. But...that career and my preoccupation with message and how it is conveyed - doesn't make me an extrovert. 

Don't believe me? Drop me into the middle of a crowded bar with throngs of people, sounds and activity bustling around me. I'll hang out as long as I need to, but unless I can find a person I can lock onto enough to forget the commotion around me, I'm going to be reeling with anxiety. People will cock their heads and wonder immediately, "where is that chatty, laughing cathy I know?" 

Cathy is gone. Because she's not safely nestled in the comfortable intimate circle of people she knows and shares a connection with. At that point, Cheryl takes over. And Cheryl does NOT enjoy the energy of a crowd environment. My introverted nature is to observe...from a distance. To study people and their behavior in an attempt to understand them in some way that may help me "connect." I don't want to know the person people present. I want to know who they truly are. If I can't get to that, I'm very hesitant to invest. 

That said, tell me I need to give a presentation to 50 strangers at a conference? Piece of cake. That pulls on another part of my personality. I slip into extroversion, because it's required to do the job I'm tasked with. If I assign responsibility to socializing, it's no longer about me. It's about the "product" or the "concept" I need to convey. I'm comfortably detached from my introverted self. 

Invite me to a party after that conference with the same people? I'll go, but I'm going to be incredibly overstimulated in about thirty minutes. Social expectations are exhausting to me. I'm torn between my professional self, and my deep personal self. The part of me that loves quiet time to be lost in my own thoughts and undisturbed by a lot of commotion around me. The part of me that wants to study you, but not necessarily engage you. 

In the studio, I am among connected souls. We share a love. A craft. And most of our conversations are centered around that love. We motivate each other, we talk about our lives and our hopes and our challenges in clay and in life...but there are never more than 15 or 20 of us in that space at the same time. To me, they are my clay family. So, my feeling of "safety" and "connectedness" is what people are experiencing. Not a true extroversion. 

We wound up having a pretty cool conversation and introversion and extroversion after that. He still stands on his assessment of me. But then, given what I've shown him...why would he think any differently? :) 

To read an interesting "career-focused" explanation of the Introverted Extrovert, go here