I have made a whole heap of discoveries about who I am in the past year. I’m talking really huge, monumental realisations that have absolutely smashed to smithereens all previous theories about who I am, and who I thought I was. A dawning of such magnitude doesn’t come cheap; it causes the world as you know it to shake at your feet in a terrifying earthquake, forcing all earlier conceptions to tumble to the ground, leaving rubble where solid thoughts once existed.
It sounds terrifying, and in many ways it is; it is certainly life changing, make no mistake. But the overriding sensation is one of relief: I am not odd: I’m just in the minority. I am not an intolerant bitch: I struggle with Misophonia. I am not an attention-seeking drama queen: I am merely a highly sensitive person.
However, one aspect of my personality is still a mystery. Am I an introvert, or not? Many HSPs are introverts, and it’s true that when I have taken online personality tests, I invariably come up with introvert. But while I enjoy my own company, I also love a good party. I am loud and opinionated, which are a far cry from classic introvert characteristics. Although I often shrink from attention, there are times when I am most comfortable being slap, bang right in the middle of it.
The bottom line is, I don’t want to be an introvert. There, I’ve said it. I am more than willing to admit that I have introvert traits, but there are just as many extrovert ones, too. When I consider the possibility of being an introvert, I want to fight tooth and nail against it, every fibre of my being screaming “that’s not ME”.
Why would this be? I honestly don’t know. Or perhaps I do, and I am just being coy. It’s stigma. The stigma that is associated with introverted, shy people. God, I hate that word. Shy, shy, shy, SHY. As a child, I was always described as shy. I am not shy at all, and never have been. I am wary, and cautious and sensitive, that’s it. Nobody really looked close enough to see the real me, to bother enough to realise that I wasn’t shy. Hey, ho. Common mistake: quiet equals shy.
Perhaps the problem is that I see shyness and introversion all entwined and entangled, with my mind unable to separate the two? Or, maybe, it has more to do with how our society treats introverts: the butt of poor jokes, ridiculed and misunderstood, seen as second class citizens that nobody remembers or cares about. I am a highly sensitive person, and as such, I CRAVE acceptance. This is closer to the truth; this, I believe, is the real reason why I can’t think of myself as being an introvert.
Although I have many unequivocal extrovert tendencies, I think I may be a closet introvert: an introvert in some serious denial. I’ve seen me walk into a crowded room and rather than show I was intimidated, I have become the loudest person there. I’ve had public speaking jobs, where I felt a fraud, sick to my stomach before every meeting I held. I’ve worked in customer services positions where a jovial, sociable and out-going personality was a pre-requisite, and gone home exhausted due to the effort it took. I felt like a fake, an interloper, and just waited for someone to discover it. That’s denial. That’s pretending. That’s not who I am.
And it makes me sad. Why should I deny such a huge part of who I am? If, indeed, I am an introvert? Why should society dictate what is acceptable, or not? I might ask why should I even care; but the HSP among us will know why. We just do.
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