My coming out ... I'm an extrovert who needs quiet

No one has ever accused me of being laid back. Ever.

I've always been high energy and even when I feel like I have low energy apparently I still seem to have more energy than most. It isn't the coffee talking either because I haven't had caffeine in 20 years. Now by energy I don't mean like the physical I could run a marathon energy because anyone who knows me is now too busy laughing to keep reading. My energy comes from me getting excited (about even small things like a new pen), from being with people, and from things that I feel passionate about (like my Instant Pot and women's rights).

Being an extrovert has its professional advantages. Being outgoing and friendly makes new situations easier for me to navigate. When I started my new position a few weeks ago, I relied on my energy to help me get on-boarded and assimilated. It makes me really happy to connect with new people. This is good thing most of the time because my job depends on people being comfortable enough with me to tell me their real truths. Even when I'm tired I find being with people gives me my second wind.

One of the things about being an extrovert is that you tend to be very self-aware. Painfully self aware. There are times I am actually willing myself to shut up when I know I'm on a talking spree. In these moments, I can feel the over-sharing starting to happen and when it does it truly feels like it is out of my hands. You should know that it is really, really hard to stop that kind of runaway train. Luckily over time I have controlled my risk by having my 30 road tested stories that keep me out of trouble.

But sometimes I hit a wall.

I'm the flavor of extrovert who can only recharge my batteries with alone time. (Because of this some people would label me an ambivert but that feels like being labeled an amphibian). I physically need silence. My soul need solitude. Not so easy to come by with my lifestyle.  This is one of the reasons I started to meditate a few years ago. I practice Transcendental Meditation and I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes each time. Most of the time I'm meditating on my train commute to and from NYC. I turn on a white noise app to drown out the activity around me and close my eyes. I might be the only person in the world who craves my time on NJ Transit. Meditating is my "do not disturb" sign at home. My family knows if I've got my eyes shut and my headphones on that they should come back later. 

When people ask me if meditation "works" I always give the same answer. Before I started, I felt like I was always idling at a 10 on the energy scale. My frenetic energy was palpable to other people and I definitely felt high strung on the inside. Now I would say that I still simmer at a 10 externally but I hover at about a 3 or 4 internally which is massive progress.

I've never taken any of those professional personality tests but I believe there is merit in co-workers talking to each other about what makes them tick. I want people to understand that if I disappear for a little while it is because I need to get centered. If I know someone is an introvert I won't spring a presentation in front of an audience on them! These kinds of understandings help me build strong and diverse teams and mentor and manage different people differently.

Jen DrexlerComment