I like patterns.
I’ve always been good at finding themes and patterns in the world. And as such, I’ve learned a very important rule of the universe:
HUMANS DEFY ALL PATTERNS.
Yup, as someone who has struggled with empathy her entire life and who searches for patterns in everything, I’ve found humans to be totally impossible to predict. That being said, ever since I originally took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator in college, I’ve been in love with it (okay, so “obsessed with it” might be closer, but I already get that unnecessary criticism enough from my friends…and coworkers…and therapist…anyway…).
Finally, a way to understand how the humans operate! Kind of. The Myers-Briggs has given me the tools to understand how people think with relation to myself.
I was also a Neuroscience major. Shocking, I know.
For those of you who have never heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it’s a detailed personality test based on four different matrices: Introverted vs Extroverted, Sensing vs Intuition, Thinking vs Feeling, and Judging vs Perceiving. The resulting 16 combinations of these matrices can help you to understand your tendencies better and maybe even help you know which careers would suit you best and which humans would most annoy you (for example, J’s are pretty much the worst…no offense).
If you’d like to take the Myers-Briggs for yourself, I’ve found 16perosnalities.com to have the best free version. My MBTI is ENTP and for those of you who haven’t taken the Myers-Briggs, here’s what that says about me:
E(xtroverted) — I talk way too much (and if no one is around to talk to, I talk to myself)
(i)N(tuition) — I’m a big picture thinker who can’t see small details even if they’re slapping me in the face
T(hinking) — I tend towards logic and sometimes forget that emotions are a thing
P(ervceiving) — I can be disorganized (if you have seen my desk or my room, this should come as no surprise)
But could it really be so cut and dry? Can people really be put into some restrictive boxes?
Obviously not. The Myers-Briggs is a very in-depth tool that can be helpful for things like finding careers you might like, but it’s not the end-all-be-all of personality analysis. Humans are unique and have various quirks and personality traits that no one can measure in a test. They can’t measure the passions that drive a person, or the social situations that have molded a person into who they are.
Why bring up the Myers-Briggs? Mostly because I like to find any excuse to bring it up in conversation ever.
But also, I wanted to talk about being in between the letters. I wanted to talk about that sweet spot between the E and the I specifically where “lone wolf” meets “social butterfly.” For the most part, the other letters in my MBTI describe me to a T (hehe see what I did there?), but when it comes to E vs I, I sit somewhere in the middle. I’m E-leaning, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
You can pretty much tell which one of those two you are by just thinking for a moment: how do I recharge? Do I recharge by talking to others? Or by being by myself?
Conversely, I can recognize my extroversion by thinking about how antsy I get when I don’t talk to people all day.
I eat everything in sight, I talk to myself, I forget to shower, it’s not pretty.
Basically, I do prefer to have people around me constantly (I consider myself to be the star of my own sitcom, and I need an audience. I mean, this comic genius can’t just be lost into the wind!). Even when I was little, I’d want someone to sit with me while I played video games even if they didn’t want to play too. Having someone to just sit with me, even if we’re not interacting, makes me feel more at home.
On the flip-side, having too many people around can be terrifying. I mean call-and-cancel-plans-to-stay-on-the-couch-forever-watching-Modern-Family-and-talking-only-to-myself terrifying. I get wicked social anxiety before parties. Don’t get me wrong, I love talking to new people, and there’s nothing like the high I get from hearing new perspectives and relating to more humans. But damn, the thought of being near a bunch of people at once has me nauseous. Sometimes Target is even too much to handle.
Target, guys. Target.
Short, one-on-one interactions are my game. I love striking up conversations with cashiers while they check me out at the store or complimenting someone wearing an accessory that looks super cute. I’ve been known to strike up conversations in bathrooms and make jokes with random people that very carefully approaches the TMI line.
That’s right, introverts, I’m that guy. Making conversation with unsuspecting people, and no one is safe.
Okay, so I’m considerate enough to not engage with people when I can tell that they don’t want to engage (typically).
If this sounds like you, you might be an Introverted Extrovert, or “Ambivert,” as I’ve heard it called.
Yes, that is actually a drawn picture of me. I think the artist did a great job.
Okay, so I pulled this from Flo Perry’s Insta, but this is actually how I feel.
I can’t tell you how many times I came home from college classes to stand at my roommate Julia’s door and beg like a puppy for her to do her homework in the common room with me. If she had a nickel for every time that happened, she’d have enough to soundproof her room to keep me from bothering her.
But that’s the case oftentimes for me as an Introverted Extrovert — I have my person. I have a list of people I can call to be “Alone Together” with, and I love how spending time with them doesn’t feel like hosting or work, it just feels like…being. The happiest way of being that exists.
To those of us who are too chatty to go to a restaurant by ourselves because we creep the people around us out…
To those of us who have full-blown conversations with the animals at the party…
To those of us who need to beg people to just watch tv with us because we can’t laugh at it by ourselves…
To those of us that breathe a sigh of relief when we see that the host has games so that we can interact with people in a structured way…
Whether you’re suffering from social paralysis before a party or melancholy from spending all day by yourself…
Introverted Extroverts UNITE!!!!!
…but not all of us at once, you know, just a few at a time.