I once worked for a company that performed Myers & Briggs personality assessments on their managers. Heard of it? It’s the test that labels you an ENTP or a ISFJ or a ESFP or any other combination of those letters. It was meant to be a team building exercise, helping us relate to one another, helping us understand how to best get others to work for us, and helping us better manipulate our own quirks and behaviors.
I love stuff like that. If it weren’t for my allergy to gargantuan doses of self-loathing, and my disinterest in college lectures, I may have fancied myself a stellar psychologist. I enjoy the mechanics behind what makes us tick. I am interested in how we all respond to the celebratory and the heart breaking. I am interested in what drives a planner and what motivates a dreamer. If I remember correctly, my Myers & Briggs results labeled me an ISFJ (Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, Judging). (If you give a rip, you can see what the heck that means here.) What I found most surprising was the “I”.
Before we took our assessments, we were asked to label our colleagues with what we thought they were. Not a soul in the room, including me, labeled me with Introversion. Of course not! Have you read my blog??? I ain’t got many secrets, and if you stand next to me long enough, you’re bound to hear stories about my wiener dogs and my friends’ kids, and I’ll most likely imitate someone by speaking with a southern drawl, ghetto flava, or British flair. And, I’ll probably invade your personal space, as I love to hold hands. With anyone really.
So, an introvert I am not. Myers & Briggs disagree and upon explanation, I am able to see their logic.
Introversion, as described by those dudes, (I assume they are dudes, but why I’m not sure?) includes some of the following:
•Think/reflect first, then Act
•Regularly require an amount of “private time” to recharge batteries
•Motivated internally, mind is sometimes so active it is “closed” to outside world
•Prefer one-to-one communication and relationships
*adapted from PersonalityPathways.com
Check. Check. Annd Check.
I am a fraud. I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s plus-sized clothing.
Who the eff knew???
The satisfaction that comes from my alone time is the precise reason I don’t find myself to be terribly brave. I have talked about taking a beginners yoga class for years, yet haven’t stepped foot in a studio for fear I’d stick out like a sore, inflexible thumb. One of my greatest sources of shame is that I never finished college. I dropped out to work a management gig with every intention of returning in a year only to wind up 31, degreeless, and without an ounce of confidence in my ability to learn anything anymore. I went to a book reading starring Jen Lancaster and Jennifer Weiner at Bryant Park this week (God, I love NYC!), and during the Q&A, I swallowed the three hundred questions I had for them because I couldn’t muster the courage to simply raise my hand and speak in front of a group of writer’s that may discover, heaven forbid, that I’m “just a civilian”. Most people fear speaking in public. I love that part. It’s the being unqualified that makes me sweat. And on that note, I want to be a professional writer so bad it makes my hair hurt, but I struggle with such monstrous insecurities that I can’t bring myself to send a single article to a single publication.
This. Is. Foolish.
Ask me to host a meeting, speak in front of an audience, sing karaoke, or lead a cheer and I’m first in line for the opportunity. I can do anything I’ve done once before or anything that I consider myself a pseudo-expert about, but first time things- out of my element things – scare the dog snot out of me. Dog. Snawt. My active mind and hunger for solace keeps me “safe” and justifies my chicken shit nature.
So, I suppose it’s time I get off my introverted ass and make some changes. Nobody is going to hand me these experiences.
You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy the ticket, numbnuts.
Being scared to put in the work to ultimately be who I want to be is absurd, right?
I’m sure you’ve heard a commercial (or 900) for the new Disney Pixar film, “Brave”. It plays in a loop in the On Demand menu of my Time Warner cable box, and I now find myself touting, “If you hahd the chance to chenge your feyt, wouldya?” multiple times each day. Drives George nuts when I morph into a Scotslady.
I don’t have a clue what the movie is about, actually, but that sentence sticks with me.
I’ve made a thousand excuses in my life.
When I’m thin, I’ll do yoga.
When I can afford to take some time off from work, I’ll go back to school.
When I have actually published something, I’ll raise my hand and join in the conversation with other writers.
When I finish college and feel like I’m “smart enough”, I’ll write a novel.
But when I really examine my own bullshit, I realize my excuses are pretty flimsy. I have a strong support system. I’ll never be as thin as I want to be, and sure as hell won’t ever be so long as I put activity on hold for “when” I’m thin. I have more time at my disposal than I used to when I worked my hell job. I have no children to distract me. I am intelligent- Bachelor’s degree or not. And, I live in New York City. It’s pretty flippin’ hard to rest on excuses when one lives in the land of opportunity.
So, here’s the deal. I’ve decided to stop hiding from the uncomfortable. I may never finish college. I may never be thin. I may never write a book, and I may never feel qualified to keep the company of literary wizards. BUT, if I don’t ever exercise my bravery bone, it’ll probably stay pretty flaccid. Nobody wants that.
I signed up for a two writing courses and an improv class. Baby steps, but I am still kicking my introvert in the stomach.
This terrifies and excites the balls off me!
I begged George to do the improv class with me. He looked at me like I was speaking in Hippopotamus, so I’m gonna go it alone. Probably best for my bravery bone anyway. Clearly he’s not a fan of “chenging his feyt”.
His bravery bone shall stay flaccid.
What about you? What scares you? What feels out of your reach? What’s stopping you from being who you want to be?
Let’s beat it. Wanna? “Chenge your feyt!” on three?
Hands in the middle, ya’ll.
“Chenge your feyt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”