Jessie Raymond: Am I an introvert?
I’m a people person. Really. So when a friend suggested last week that I might, in fact, be an introvert, I sought out an expert opinion.
Kind of. Actually, I took an internet personality quiz. I hoped it would explain how I love being around people, yet I mostly choose to avoid them.
On the one hand, I’m the kind of chatty over-sharer you never want to sit next to on a plane (“I had to sprint all the way from Concourse C. Of all the days to forget my deodorant!”).
On the other hand, I’m a hermit who prefers never to leave the house unless it is actively on fire.
The quiz asked a series of questions, such as, “In a crowd, do you (a) greet new people like you’re a cruise director, (b) go hide in a bathroom stall or (c) immediately move to a small town in the Nunavut Territory where no one can find you?” And “Friends drop by unexpectedly. Do you (a) welcome them enthusiastically and insist that they join you for dinner, (b) chat politely but sigh and check your watch every few minutes or (c) drop a magician’s smoke bomb and flee out the back door before anyone sees you?”
As I was taking the quiz, I realized how hard it was to answer fairly. The responses depended on how often and how long I’d recently been around other people.
I love to talk. I like to hang out with friends and family, and I enjoy meeting new people. But at the end of a week filled with too much socializing, I have to lock myself in a dark closet for a few hours to recuperate.
And it’s getting worse. As the years pass, I find that the more peopling I do, the more aloning I need.
Getting older is only part of it, though. I share an office with a woman who’s about my age, and she likes to be around people all the time; she says it “energizes” her.
On Monday nights (who goes out on Monday nights?), she plays trivia at a local bar. She has church board meetings on Tuesdays, followed, I believe, by swing dancing on Wednesdays and fight club on Thursdays. If she can’t come up with a reason to go out, she throws a dinner party, and the people come to her.
It’s weird, because she’s so likable in other ways.
A few Mondays ago, I made the mistake of asking how her weekend had been. “Great!” she said. She had gone out kayaking with her husband Friday night, hosted a dinner party Saturday night and then gotten up super early Sunday to drive to New York City to visit family and catch a Mets game before driving home late that night.
As she ticked off each activity, I crawled under my desk and curled up in a ball. I decided I’d take a personal day Tuesday just to recover from hearing about her adventures.
Then she asked about my weekend.
“It started off OK,” I said. “I didn’t have plans Friday or Saturday. But on Sunday, I had to go out to get groceries. Ugh.”
“How awful,” she said, and I agreed, though we had different reasons for saying so.
I wasn’t always like this. When the kids were little, we were on the go all the time. But now that the house is relatively quiet, Mark and I have a luxury that for years I hardly dared dream about: alone time.
The takeaway: I really, really like it.
Anyway, I answered all the quiz questions as best I could. And for the record, no, I don’t fret that I’ve said the wrong thing to someone I’ve just met (although I should). And yes, the only thing I enjoy more than attending an evening event is finding out that the event has been cancelled. So what?
Well, according to the results of the quiz, it all adds up to me being “51 percent sociable.” Is that normal?
I declined to pay $6.99 for a complete analysis, so I don’t know.
But I do know the percentage has gone down over the years, and it’s still dropping. (When it gets into the single digits, I’ll move to a remote cave in the mountains.)
It also means that if you want to pop in and see me unannounced, you should do it soon. Right now, I’m slightly more likely than not to ask you to stay for dinner.
In another year or so, however, you could be greeted at the door by a cloud of smoke and the sound of rapidly retreating footsteps.
I know: It’s weird. But I swear I’m likable in other ways.