4 Mar, 2015: Introversion

I’m coming to understand how introverted I am – and it’s not introverted as in an aversion to people, but rather an aversion to not being in my element.

There have been long periods of time when my element has been in bed with the one I love or otherwise at her side, so my introversion has little to do with solitude; it’s more about an innate need to preserve the sanctity of my soul rather than an express desire to be alone; although, the two certainly are often intertwined, and I suspect they [solitude and inner sanctum] are mutually inclusive for many. Some people simply need to be alone to experience a sense of peace they cannot otherwise attain in the company of others (footnote 1).

The people who enhance my sense of inner peace and add to my wellbeing in ways that do not require me to be anything other than completely faithful to my innermost nature in the moment, whether that’s quiet or talkative, energetic or mellow – those are the people whom I treasure and love the most.

Still there are others whom I enjoy spending time with but upon departing from feel drained, as if I have expended some unearthly spiritual energy in hanging out with them, and now I must go home and recharge my batteries.

This feeling is not overly apparent, at least it has not been until now, but I am becoming keenly aware that there are two camps of people in my life; there are those who maintain and even enhance my mental equilibrium and sense of self, and there are those who somehow disturb it, leaving me feeling off balance and slightly out of sorts with myself and the world.

I’m not sure what the distinguishing factor is between the two kinds of people but one [type] is certainly life giving, while the other is life depleting – and regardless of whether someone is the former or the latter, their effect on me is invariably one or the other; those who consecrate my inner sanctum always do, and those who somehow seem to desecrate it never fail to.

Mind you, I had never consciously and clearly noticed this until now – today to be exact.

I met my friend and business partner Chris for lunch this afternoon and afterwards felt as I always do after seeing him – not just good spirited, but almost more like myself than I had felt before seeing him. It’s almost as if he affirms my sense of life and my identity; it’s as if he helps me know my place in the world and anchors me to it.

Contrast that to coffee later in the evening with two friends, which, while pleasant company, left me feeling an almost instinctual desire to return home and recharge. An unfortunate thing because they invited me to join them at a barbecue tonight, and I had to decline for want of some “me time”.

Later, after coming home and starting to journal this, my friend Britney invited me for a walk. Having had sufficient time to recharge in my foremost preferred fashion – writing of course (a close second to reading, walking being my third choice) – I went and saw her.

Now Britney is an interesting example of someone who, like Chris, leaves me feeling more true to myself than I otherwise would have, had I not seen her.

I say she is an interesting example, because it’s not like Britney is the most zen, chill person in the world; her thoughts are often as discombobulated (her word, not mine) as my own mile-a-minute mind. But no matter, she somehow always centers me to a completely authentic place. I am naturally in my element with Britney.

Which leads me to an interesting point. I’ve long said that, we like others based on how much we like ourselves when we are around them, which may be true to an extent, but my best friend Marc certainly desecrates my inner sanctum – as he always does and has since the time he gave me mushrooms when we were in high school – an unfortunate story he loves to tell to this day (footnote 2).

My point about Marc is that it’s not as if I’m choosing to like people based on how much they feed into my ego (hell, if anything Marc keeps me humble). The fact is, I enjoy having both types of friends. I have friends who put me in my element and affirm my identity, and I have friends who take me out of my element and make me feel as if I need to run off alone and do something that reminds myself of who I am (writing, reading, walking). One is not inherently superior to the other; however, the one kind I can only handle in limited doses before I have to climb up into my tree house alone to recharge, and the other kind I want to invite up into my treehouse to recharge with me (footnote 3).


Footnote 1: This probably accounts for a large portion of Netflix’s user base; although, the discussion of technology and it’s role as a catalyst for increasing one’s need for solitude is a rabbit hole I will venture down another day. Also, if the bulk of your alone time is spent watching Netflix, you likely aren’t my type.

Footnote 2: Sorry this footnote is not a retelling of Marc’s favorite mushroom story, but I want to apologize in advance to my future wife for the toast Marc makes at our wedding, or anything else that comes out of his mouth for that matter. That’s just Quitos and I love him despite his Maqruitos-ways. If I marry you you’ll hopefully love him too – but I won’t hold it against you if you don’t – ha!

Footnote 3: I recognize that for some of my friends, I may make them want to pull up their own treehouse ladders in my face as they rush to recharge on their own. Just as for others, I may center them. The question then is, is Marc an exception to the rule (I have known him for 14 years after all)? And if he is, is one kind in fact superior to the other? And does this life affirming energy always flow both ways? Based on my recent dating experiences, I would say no. One person can center another person and affirm their entire existence, only to send the other person running for their treehouse. So, the question then becomes, are we introverts with some and extraverts with others? And do we prefer one over the other? Surely our MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) functions affect one another. My lovely pink shirt wearing former girlfriend Bunny S. can attest to this, as I am ENFP (coincidentally, the most introverted of the extraverts), and she is ISTJ – my polar opposite (oil and water as she used to say). Perhaps I will ask my friends to take the Myers Briggs for me and I can gather a few additional relevant data points, but the fact is I’m just exploring my relationship to the world here, using my journal to reflect on life, to grow. As I close my eyes to sleep now, I’ll think back on all the relationships I’ve had – for better or worse – and I’ll see if I can figure anything else about why some people recharge us, and others deplete us (footnote 4).

Footnote 4: Yes, I just gave a footnote a footnote because I’m gangster like that. The one question that I ask people to determine if their dominant modality is introverted or extraverted is if whether going to a party gives them energy or if it depletes their energy and makes them feel like they need to go home and be alone afterwards. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, whose work was the foundation for the Myers Briggs, characterized an introvert as someone whose primary focus was on their inner, subjective world, and an extravert as someone whose primary focus was the outer, external world. But of course, these are all footnotes, because introversion and extraversion are only part of the bigger picture, but perhaps the people who affirm your identity possess an intuitive understanding of your inner, subjective world and thus enable you to more comfortably navigate and relate to the outer world, while those who do not intuitively understand your inner world do not draw it out, and as a result leave you feeling like you need to go connect to it on your own – since you could not with them, as you could someone who did (footnote 5).

Footnote 5: David Foster Wallace would have been proud of these footnotes on footnotes. The funny, yet apropos thing, is that my perspective is really only truly relevant to other ENFPs and even then, this is really only relevant to me, but that being said, there is a big relationship between intuition and personality types. Basically there are sixteen Myers Briggs types based on four quadrants: introversion / extraversion, intuition / sensing, thinking / feeling, and judging / perceiving. But each quadrant has introverted and extraverted functions as well. According to the Wikipedia for Jungian Cognitive Funtions, which sheds much light on what I have written:

In addition, each function is seen as either introverted or extraverted (known as attitudes). The attitudes are interpreted in terms of what the person finds more rewarding when using one of the four functions to focus attention outwardly on people and things (extraversion) or to focus attention more inwardly towards internal feelings, thoughts and ideas (introversion).

Jung’s models do not restrict people to any one of four functions, in only one attitude. Rather it observes only that functioning in the opposite attitude requires greater expenditure of “energy” (or rather, emotional resources, enthusiasm, and so on). Operating the function in the person’s preferred attitude conserves and replenishes energy. In this, Jung’s ideas are a detailed close-up view of the fuzzy conventional idea of “comfort zones.”

Rather than write more I’m going to stop here and return later to this entry to reflect on it. That’s the beauty of journaling, you get to reflect on life and yourself in a very introspective and enlightening manner. I recommend it to everyone.

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