I’ve been thinking a lot about my personality type lately. I’ve had the unhappy realization that even in a virtual world, I’m still an introvert. It may be easier to project myself as an extrovert, as someone who thrives on being with large groups of people, but it ain’t the truth about me. My favorite face-to-face social events tend to be one-on-one encounters, such as a long lunch with one close friend. My limit is a dinner party of four, where I am one of the four. At the young age of 55, I started to finally embrace the introvert that is me after I read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. For the first time in my life, I felt that my introversion was more “normal” than my society wanted me to believe.
But then I reentered the blogosphere and now I have a wide circle of blogging acquaintances, many of whom have become friends that I’ve grown to care about deeply. I value each one of these new friendships, and yet I still experience that paralyzing feeling I get when I feel multiple demands for my attention. Like when I open my Gmail account and see 200 new blog posts all wanting and deserving my attention. These are not people speaking directly to me all at once, but the sensation is the same. I feel overwhelmed and then I shut down.
So yesterday morning, upon discovering that for some reason WordPress is not sending me the daily digests of the blogs I follow as I requested, I turned to my Facebook page. I started with Candace Johnson at Change It Up Editing and Writing Services who had shared Lauren Sapala’s blog post on making time to write. [That is an excellent post, by the way.] From there, I saw another post Lauren had written called Know Your Type, and Then Sit Down to Write. Well, there we go. I was familiar with Jung’s personality test (also referred to the Myers-Briggs test). [Disclaimer: what is online is an abridged version of the actual test, and there is some controversy about it. Still, it’s fun to take and can be very insightful.] And, true to my introverted self, I love taking tests. You can take the test here.
I’ve taken this test in the past and as I’ve matured, my scores have changed slightly. What has not changed is the first letter of the score: “I” for Introvert. This morning’s test revealed me to be an ISFJ: Introvert, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. To be more specific, I have strong preferences of introversion over extroversion by 89%; sensing over intuition by 12%; feeling over thinking by 38%; and judging over perceiving by 44%. Over the years, I seem to have become more sensing than intuitive, but my other “preferences” have changed little. So what’s an introvert like me to do?
I’m not about to retreat into the quiet cocoon of anonymity just because I get a little overwhelmed now and then. I just need to relearn and pay attention to my limits. I would never turn back the clock on my blogging, for the friends I’ve gained have enriched my life beyond my imagination. Not only has my growth as a writer accelerated in the last few months due to the support of my blogging friends, but so has my self-confidence in general. In my real physical world, I have a handful of friends that I feel comfortable enough with to be fully myself. It’s a stark, finite number that, while I enjoy solitude, still leaves me uneasy. Is it me that is incapable of having more than two good friends? Or is it my immediate physical world that is incapable of accepting me as I am?
In my real virtual world, the number seems infinite. I am friends with people I never would have met except for the blogosphere, people who live in the U.S. and Canada but also far-flung countries like Australia, Latvia, Italy, Egypt. For an introvert like myself, this is nothing short of amazing. For an introvert, this could only happen through writing.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.