I remember the conversation vividly, not the circumstances of the day or what prompted me to make the call. The year was 2007.
I was working for a large Canadian Corporation where I had two co-ordinators positions. One was dealing with the corporation’s charitable organization in our region and the other was co-ordinating the non-consumable products of three warehouses.
Lots of people, loads of responsibility and quite often working charitable events that took place after work or on weekends.
After returning to work, from a month’s leave due to depression, I called the Employee Assistance Program to obtain some information on changing careers or to get some career counselling.
I spoke to a very nice lady who listened quietly as I explained what I did on a day to day basis and what my jobs entailed.
She then asked the question that change my life forever. “Are you extroverted or introverted?”
I honestly didn’t know. I told her I wasn’t sure what those two words meant exactly. Her brief response explained to me that an introvert re-energizes internally and extroverts externally.
There was silence on the phone as I tried to comprehend and process this information.
Something inside of me understood on a deep level that this lady had just given me one the greatest gifts of my life. I needed to stay focused and listen to what she had to say.
The lady asked me how I liked to spend my free time (when I had some)?….What did I do to recharge my batteries after big charitable events or a busy day at work?
I had no real answer to these questions other than I just wanted to be left alone when I arrived home and on the weekends I would have two hour long naps. I enjoyed quiet time by myself and loved to read.
The lady believed that I was probably an introvert. She asked me if I would take the Myers Briggs Personality Type Test and call her back with the result. I said “Of course!”
I completed the Myers Briggs test and it turns out that I am an INFP. Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. Introverted feeling with extraverted intuition. A.K.A. The Idealist.
As I read through the information on the INFP it described me to a tee:
INFPs primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.
INFPs are introspective, private, creative and highly idealistic individuals that have a constant desire to be on a meaningful path. They are driven by their values and seek peace. Empathetic and compassionate, they want to help others and humanity as a whole. INFPs are imaginative, artistic and often have a talent for language and writing. They can also be described as easygoing, selfless, guarded, adaptable, patient and loyal.
Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to “recharge.”
I spent time researching and learning about INFPs and introverts. I let this information settle into my bones, my being.
During our next call we had a wonderful discussion about my personality type, my job and my self-care (or lack there of….) and the impact of realizing that I am an introvert had on my world.
A whole new and exciting world was opening up before me. I was seeing things in a whole different light. I wondered what was possible for me now?
It became apparent to me, that all my life I had been trying to show up in life as an extrovert because that is what was expected by our society. Doing this was detrimental to me on so many levels.
I realized that not honouring my authentic self as an INFP was contributing adversely to my health, happiness, self worth, self esteem and confidence. I was living my life by what others wanted and expected me to be.
Looking back over my life, I understand now that when I went against my true nature my life became a shit show.
When I was out of alignment with my essential self, my life felt way, way off course. I now understood why.
I knew that it was time for me to set a new course for my life. In order to do that, I had to discover and explore what it means to be an introvert and specifically an INFP.
I had to re-calibrate my life knowing I was an introvert and address what that exactly meant for me, and how it would impact my life.
I had to re-learn how to show up in life in a way that would serve my highest good and ultimately those around me.
I decided that I wanted to live life on my own terms, to thrive in an extroverted culture.
I eventually left the corporate world and have spent the last six year excavating the gifts of what it means to be an introvert and how introverts can thrive in their lives.
Understanding how energy, self-care, intuitive ability and letting go of old beliefs impacts introverts has allowed me to heal. It has also provided me with the tools, insights, information and wisdom that helps me work with introverts who want to thrive in an extraverted culture.
There is a quote by E.E. Cummings that reads “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I have it framed on the wall in my office and it has been there for more years than I can remember.
When I realized that I was an introvert, this quote took on a whole new meaning for me. I replaced “grow up” with “stand up”.
It does takes courage to stand up and be who you really are especially when you are an introvert. To know and understand your true self is empowering.
Through self-discovery, self-care and self-realization introverts can create a loving, happy and fulfilling life.
We are enough just as we are.