Picking Up Good Vibrations

I’m feeling a little bit loved today. A few of my colleagues at work were making a very impressive joint effort to get me to say yes to attending our works Christmas party next month. One of my teammates even said he’d give me a ride there and back! That is a big deal for an introvert like me.

A lot of my introversion stems from my severe lack of self esteem. I am constantly terrified that people don’t like me. Even at work though I get along with people, I have this part of me that still believes that none of them would really want to engage with me in a social situation. So because of this fear I tend to avoid social functions at work. Ironically, this probably makes people think I’m stuck up and not really want to socialise with me.

For people to genuinely try to convince me to come (not just a half hearted “oh you should go” and leave it at that) makes me actually want to go. And gives me warm feelings of actually being accepted. This is fantastic because my mind is evil to me and constantly gives me an irrational nagging worry that I’m only tolerated and not accepted.

The burning question now is – can I actually bite the bullet and make myself go?

Mouth from the South

After doing the personality test the other day, and thinking about my son’s diagnosis it really got me thinking about my own childhood. When I was in primary school I was considered very outgoing: I was overly energetic and talkative. Every one of my primary school reports would have variations of “Karlee would be an excellent student if she could just stop talking so much in class”. Actually my nickname in grades 5 & 6 was “Mouth from the South” perhaps cruel, but I never really paid it much mind back then.

Not only did I talk a lot (and I mean a LOT) I was also very loud. My voice naturally carries, and I’d never realise I’d be talking loudly. I’d get particularly louder the more excited I got. And it was very easy for me to be over enthusiastic (as one teacher kindly put it). I was a high energy child, always onto the next thing, never staying interested in anything for too long. I’d get bored if I wasn’t properly challenged and that’s when I started talking incessantly.

I used to assume that I was naturally an extravert, and that it was due to circumstance (bullying in high school & mental illness) I became an introvert. However, even as a youngster I didn’t initiate friendships, I didn’t like inviting people over to play, didn’t like birthday parties where the focus was on me. Thinking back on it now it seems that my introversion was actually the natural tendency for me. It was only my high energy and loud voice that gave a false impression that I was extraverted.

The more I look at my childhood self, the more I see the parallels between my son and myself. And I’m not the first to do that as other family members have also noted he is so much like me in personality. Always wired, always talking, always busy. Often getting into trouble for distracting other people, not doing it maliciously but because of losing focus and getting bored far too easily.

I control myself a lot better now, but I’m still too easily distracted. I still lose interest in things way too quickly. I still unconsciously talk inappropriately too loudly at times. My eyes glaze over when someones talking and I get bored, and I’ve been known to walk away mid conversation (I know it’s so rude). I still can’t sit still – I bounce my heels rapidly up and down whenever I’m sitting. I don’t realise I’m doing it, and it can get on peoples nerves. I also shift positions in my chair during work meetings more times than socially acceptable. I still interrupt others and sometimes get impatient when people are slow. I forget things that my mind doesn’t classify as important (like when mum asks me to bring over spare clothes for the children you can bet your bottom dollar I have forgotten). I routinely forget appointments or plans I’ve made with others even though I have them in a calendar. I can literally walk over a pile of clothing for days without registering that it needs doing. I’m not lazy, I just don’t “see” the pile because it’s not important in my busy mind.

My ex used to call me Dory (from Finding Nemo) because I’d be talking away and in mid sentence … oooh shiny!!!!

Uh where was I? Oh yes, I get distracted and forget to finish what I was talking about. Sometimes I even forget I had been talking in the first place. I’m a pretty forgetful person, often misplacing (not losing, misplacing!) things. And yet, for whatever reason, I have a massive databank in my head of song lyrics from probably hundreds of different songs across different decades and genres. It’s fascinating just how many songs I know all of the words to from start to finish. But I can’t even remember what day it is half the time.

I.N.F.P. – An idiosyncratic dreamer with a strong imagination

Today, at the suggestion of one of the guys I work with – I took the 16 Personalities quiz for a bit of fun. It’s essentially one of those Myers Briggs Personality Indicators. Reading the results I wasn’t particularly surprised that I turned out to be an INFP, classified as a Diplomat (due to having the NF combo). In fact I probably could have just looked at what each personality aspect was and I would have chosen exactly each aspect as the quiz results determined.

In fact previous posts have established that I’m

  • (I) Introverted : I find socialising very exhausting, and I need plenty of alone time.
  • (N) Intuitive: I have an imagination that runs wild, and I’m typically a dreamer
  • (F) Feeling: I’m sensitive, empathic, and highly emotional

I’m not sure if I’ve written any posts about the last aspect (P) Prospecting yet, but it will definitely come up sooner or later. I would have to agree to being this aspect as: I am terribly indecisive and good at improvising. I pride myself on being flexible; always preferring to keep my options open.

And the diplomat part – well I usually tend to be a fence sitter. I tend to worry more about hurting a persons feelings so I am very reluctant to make judgement calls. And I can usually find redeeming qualities in even the most unpleasant person or situation (much to the chagrin anyone who is venting to me about said person/situation!).

It seems with my INFP personality type that I keep good company among some of my favourite authors: George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Edgar Allen Poe, Hans Christian Andersen, William Shakespeare, George R.R. Martin.

Maybe it’s little wonder that I love writing as much as I do! I only wish I were half as talented as the above mentioned folk.

Putting myself into this little box of letters, while a fun and interesting exercise, leaves me at a loss as to what to do with the information. I typically don’t put much stock into personality tests. In fact I got downright annoyed when I legit had to do a different one for work earlier this year (or was it late last year? I can’t remember.)

It makes me think of that end scene of Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze tells Jerry Orbach “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”. I feel like saying “Nobody puts Karlee into a personality type”. I kind of see it like star signs and horoscopes – keep it general enough and you can get it to apply to you, and everyone else you know.

That said an INFP personality type seems to suit me remarkably well, but it’s not really a type that’s conducive to success in relationships is it?

A question or two, if you care to answer: whats your Myers Briggs personality type? Do you think it suits you, or do you think you another type is a better fit?

Smoke and Mirrors

I am a superficial extrovert. Once I am comfortable with people, I appear to be a chatty, friendly, and fun loving person who is just a little on the crazy side. Most people would tell you that I am also a very open and honest person – what you see is what you get.

Yet, if any of them looked very closely, they would see that I barely reveal a thing about my true self. I tend to move around people like the moon orbits the earth – here on earth we never ever see what’s on the other side of the moon. People only ever see one side of me – the carefully constructed, and controlled persona that I want them to see. The other, truer self is hidden very deep and out of reach.

Why do I make myself so untouchable? Why do I so carefully guard my soul with walls so high? Why do I keep people at arms length? I choose this for myself because I am safe from harm.

I feel like if I keep myself at a safe distance from the rest of the world then I protect my vulnerability. I am not exposing my fragile self to the chance of being torn apart by “the wolves”. Being untouchable also means that if I don’t let anyone near me then I can’t disappoint anyone with what’s really inside.

I’m incredibly lonely, more than anyone would ever know. But I choose this place for myself because I am not ready to open the doors and let my soul run free. I’m not ready to let people inside the crystal palace of my mind. I’m not ready to let them learn of the private, fragile me. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. But someday I hope to be.

If that day comes, I will take away the smoke and mirrors I’ve so carefully placed to fool people into thinking they know who I am. On that day I will shine like the sun and everyone around will see who I really am. But until then I am & will remain that superficial extrovert.