When I was in high school and, especially, college, I was an extrovert. I was more extroverted than introverted. I was described as outgoing, bubbly, vivacious, and “will talk to anyone”. This was often a great source of entertainment for my friends, as I was regularly dared to go talk to people. I didn’t care about whether or not someone liked me or what they thought of me. Looking back on it, it was very freeing. I was an art major, and I would walk around all day covered in paint and clay and didn’t even think twice as I passed girls dressed to the nine, with their hair perfected coiffed, and makeup that looked like it took half the morning to apply.
You’d think that this would have “counted me out” from dates, but it seemed quite the opposite. I didn’t have any shortage of offers. It’s anyone’s guess as to why, but perhaps it’s because my “I don’t care what you think” air projected confidence in who I was. I don’t know. That, and if I liked a guy, I often asked him out myself.
This all changed, though. Something about getting married made it all change. I’m not sure if it was the person or the act of marriage itself and my preconceived ideas of marriage.
I think there were several contributing factors in the early stages. First of all, the person I married had a very “in your face” personality that seemed to overshadow my own. I felt dwarfed by him. Suddenly it seemed my jokes were no longer funny, my opinions were no longer valued, and I was just some silly girl on his arm that was there to make him look better. Secondly, I was taught in church that wives are to be submissive to their husbands, which is certainly biblical, but I think I also translated it to mean that once I got married I was to be meek and sort of blend into my husband.
Soon, I stopped interjecting my thoughts and stories, and this later extended to my own circle of friends. I stopped seeking my own friends and just tagged along with his connections. I was losing myself. I became very self-conscious about how I looked and what I said or didn’t say.
Fast forward to the divorce and it just magnified.
For the past 8 years, I have been trying to find my self again. A lot of changes have taken place since before I got married 11 years ago, so it’s unrealistic to think I can ever be her again, but I do miss her. I think I have become more introverted, and I’m mostly okay with that, but I still feel like something is missing.
Now, as more of an introvert, the former extrovert in me wants to make friends and be the life of the party again, but the introvert says it’s exhausting and a lot of trouble and that I should just stick with my little (literally) tribe. I think the problem is that I desire deep and lasting friendships, and those don’t seem to exist or, at least, seem hard to come by. I also have that self-conscious seed of doubt in me that acts like a poison. Experience has made me feel like I have nothing to offer to anyone, so why would someone even want to be my friend? So I keep to myself, while desiring for something else.
While I long for friendships and connection, the funny thing is that when I do get invitations for things, sometimes I desperately want to turn them down because it’s taking me out of my comfort zone and the thought of having to converse with someone and come up with things to keep the conversation moving just seems tiring. It can be very confusing, to say the least. I feel like my personality is at war with itself.
But, you see, when I keep to myself I don’t have to worry about someone thinking my joke is lame or that my hair is out of place. When I’m alone I can think and I can create, without all the overwhelming external forces that says it’s not good enough, not original, not worthy. Sometimes the noise and commotion at even the store is just too much. This is one reason I avoid leaving my home on Black Friday. Nope. No, thank you.
Combine this with an inkling of depression or anxiety and my head soon fills with a lot of chatter. Really, I just need friends who will draw me out again. Friends who will drag me along, if they have to, until the extrovert can break free a little — not too much, though.
I would love to find a compromise between the two.