Where Have all the Extroverts Gone?
Two and a half years ago, we were in the beginning stages of Covid lockdown and there were a lot of Introvert / Extrovert memes going around.
Hey, Introverts! Check on your Extrovert friends... they are not ok!
And I felt this deeply. I was not ok. I was not happy with the decrease in my social circle...or the resulting lack of coffee dates.
But I, like everyone else, hunkered down and accepted this little blip in my road. A small length of time in a much larger picture.
And then, I was given a cancer diagnosis, and then another cancer diagnosis and suddenly, hunkering down seemed to be all I was able to do. Sitting quietly, reflecting, processing grief and every other emotion thrown at me.
SO MUCH REFLECTION!
I kicked ass at Emotional Processing 101. And then 201 and 301 and 401... and I could probably write a big ole dissertation on what it means to be a very loud extrovert thrown into an introvert world and not just survive it, but thrive.
However, I find myself in new territory at this time. The world opening up, my health stable, my kids not really stable but better than before. And I've got this wealth of new emotional information from sitting quiet for 2 years.
I am charged up, Y'all! This ADHD driven Extrovert is ready to be unleashed, released from solitude and tossed into the world.
I am feeling like one of those Superdogs at the PNE, waiting to be launched into the obstacle course, feeding off the frenzy of the crowd, butt shaking, body twitching... and then, BAM, the whistle blows and they are off, tearing up that course, energized and focused and happy.
My current dissertation title is;
From Chaos and Mayhem to Solitude and Back. The journey of an ADHD brain, processing Reflection, Grief and the Benefits of Sitting Still.
It's good, I think.
But it's not finished. Because here's where I'm struggling. I don't like sitting still. I don't love quiet. I certainly don't enjoy grief (but I very much accept it's role in my life). What I do love is loud and energetic. I love lots of people over and great pot luck dinners. I love the feeling of the moment just before you know things are going to go completely sideways and your adrenaline rushes in and the snap decisions are made to avert total chaos.
That's where I live. That's were my brain feels most alive. In that moment right before the life or death moment. Just before the panic sets in for real.
And I am craving this so bad right now.
Two years ago, I wrote a blog post on Cancer and ADHD. And I was curious at that time to see how the two would fit together. I was worried that my body would be tired and weak and not feel like moving and that my brain would get more and more frustrated.
And to some extent, I did experience this. But mostly, my body has been great and the relatively few days that I've had to lie in and be quiet, were a welcome escape from parenting and responsibility.
And, I was really able to embrace the quiet, reflective life. I loved it. I made my peace with it and have come out the other side a very different person. It was needed. It was a gift placed on my body and soul and I am forever grateful for these years.
And now, I am so done.
Oh, I still have a daily quiet time. I still read books and process grief and write daily. I have a new appreciation for alone time and solo walks in the woods. These new habits and spiritual disciplines will never leave me.
But, along with these quiet moments, I really want some action. Excitement. Jump off a cliff with a parachute kind of lifestyle.
And mostly, I want my people back. The loud, up for anything, talk till dawn, dance in the rain kind of folks.
But I'm wondering where they are. Extroverts, are you out there? What did 2 years of quiet and solitude look like for you? How have you changed? How have you grown?
As part of my work in processing grief, I read the book Bittersweet by Susan Cain. She's also written Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.
I loved both of these books and I've listened to several podcasts with Susan and I believe she's got some good to say.
But I'm curious.. in this world that is embracing the quietness of the introvert as a model for someone who is good at self-reflection, staying calm, saying no, having amazing boundaries.... where is the space for those of us who can do these same things, just choose to do them with other people?
I have put in a lot of time and energy and effort to learn about myself, my understanding of boundaries, choosing between saying yes or no, staying calm in the midst of crises... all of it.
And these learnings have only made me fall deeper in love with those around me. I don't feel a need to cross the street when I see someone coming, if I don't want to talk, I simply smile instead and walk on. I don't avoid committee meetings because I just can't handle more people, I simply sit quietly at the back offering suggestions only when asked and not running my mouth in an effort to be the resident wise guy.
While I love loud, I also love a silent walk along side a good friend. While I love group dinners, I also love sitting quietly with my husband, reading a book and having a glass of wine.
I need people. I crave adventure. I love to talk. I love to sing.
So, Extroverts, are we a dying bunch, given over to a few years of encouraged isolation and solitude, learning that alone time is just as nice as friend time? Have our voices been quieted, in exchange for deeper listening? Have we settled ourselves into a slower paced life, stopping a little more frequently to smell the roses? Have we made deeper connections with one or two people, replacing the need for group chaos?
I know I've changed. And I know that my life circumstances have forced that upon me, maybe more so than others. But regardless, I'm happy with the changes.
However... and there will always be a however... if anyone out there needs some pretty loud, not quite near death, excitement run by an ADHD brain that thrives on adrenaline... I am definitely your girl. Adventuring Extroverts! Unite!