© 2014 jen

Becoming a Precocious Introvert & Discovering My Inner Performer

Up until about a year or so ago – when I was diagnosed with celiac disease – I was an extreme extrovert.

I grew up in a married student housing project and there were always kids around. I usually had at least 3 best friends and tons of other friends that I was pretty close with. As a younger person I was in a perpetual state of talking, laughing or engaging with people in some way. 

As an adult, I’ve always had people at my house: people visiting, people needing a place to stay for a few days, people wanting my advice, people coming over for drinks.

In truth, I’ve hardly been alone my whole entire life, and I always liked it that way.

Today, my life is almost the opposite. I LOVE to be alone and often feel like I need more time alone.

This is how extreme my desire to be alone is: I realized last week that when I reached out to my friend Jocelyn it was the first time THIS YEAR that I’ve reached out to anyone and said, “Hey let’s hang out. I miss you!” 

I have initiated one social engagement this year that was about purely hanging out. Every other time I’ve seen someone this year it’s been around planning something or the other person has reached out to me. For someone who used to hang out with people every single day, this is a big shift.

My husband will always be my favorite person to spend time with, but even after going away with him last weekend (which was great!), I couldn’t wait to spend some time by myself. The same is true after spending the weekend with my friends in Palm Springs. I love to chat and visit, but I really NEED time to myself in a way that I never used to.

As I become more introverted, it’s not time with others that I crave. What I crave is more time performing for people or sharing with people on a broader scale than ever before, like public speaking.

3_25_Fleas_GigThis is a photo from my first gig with my band, “The Fleas.”

I think the biggest reason for my shift in socializing is that I feel so much more content and satisfied within myself. I don’t feel like I need anything other than what I already have. I already feel good.

For much of my life I sought solace in the company of others. These days I need much less. I need less laughter. Don’t get me wrong. I love to laugh, but I don’t need the distraction of laughter to feel better. I used to feel I needed to laugh for my sanity and I don’t feel this way anymore.

Since I’ve made the dietary changes that I needed to make, and now that my body is so much healthier, most of the time I just feel good. I don’t feel like I need anything else. I can honestly say I never felt this way as a young person. I never felt content. I never felt satisfied. I always felt like I needed something to be OK and I just don’t feel that way anymore.

These days, me is a pretty great place to be.

Jen_DonMe in my performing happy place.

Before, if I had a day to myself, I’d invite someone over, have some cocktails, talk and laugh with them, maybe even cry and we might go out to eat or something like that.

Now, when I have time to myself, I go on a run in nature and wow myself with amazing landscapes. I come home and cook great food for myself and my family. I play my ukulele and sing at the top of my lungs. I sing sad songs that make me burst into tears in mid verse. I sing happy songs that make me so happy I’m shouting and feeling the music with my whole body.

I make to-do lists, but not your typical to do lists. I make lists of how I want to feel in the world and then I do activities that make me feel how I want to. I make lists of vacations and nature outings and I begin planning these excursions. I spend a lot of time writing about how I feel and the changes I’ve experienced. I take photos and make videos of people and events that matter to me.

I really feel like I’m still learning who I truly am, or maybe better said, who I’m becoming – without sickness. I find that too much time with others can become a distraction from me and I need to stay focused on me. I’m regularly surprised by myself and the changes I’ve experienced. You’d think I’d know myself better, but when you’ve had a mask of sickness surrounding you your whole life you can only know yourself through the filter of sickness.

Nowadays, I am NEVER bored, because the place inside of me is a place I never want to leave. I don’t need a break from me. Me is my favorite new place that I’ve recently discovered.

IMG_3106The second set of our first gig.

As for the public performing piece…I will admit something to you. I rarely go see any performance of any kind, particularly bands, and there is a major reason for this. Whenever I used to see bands performing I always felt such a deep sadness, no matter how great and rockin’ the band was, because I knew I was supposed to do that myself. Every band I saw, heard and tapped my toe to was a reminder of what I was not accomplishing.

The way I avoided confronting this part of myself was by avoiding as many performances as I could. I called this the performer’s curse – wanting to perform, and being afraid of it too.

20140325_200525Singing my heart out with the rest of “The Fleas.”

As I pull back socially and go deeper within myself, I feel like I’m re-emerging in some ways as a different person. More and more my desire to perform is greater than my fear of performing, and with each performance I become even less fearful. 

I also feel more and more compelled to share what I’m learning and feeling and the ways I’m growing.

I’m a bit of a health nut these days and I spend so much time learning more about healing. All too often I’m surprised by how superficial much of the information out in the world about health and healing is. That is not my experience of healing – the changes I’ve experienced are deep and transformative. My mind, my body and my life have changed.

Not everyone has the dietary restrictions that I have, but everyone, and I mean everyone, could stand to take a little better care of themselves. This has been my primary focus for the last year and a half of my healing journey. I would go as far as to say I’m becoming an expert at self-healing. I really need to keep sharing what I’m learning for myself and to help others.

So here I am today, confused about whether I’m actually an introvert or an extrovert. I’m not shy. I can hold my own socially and would probably appear to be an extrovert, but I can’t wait to be alone again. I’ve got so much list making, crochet, knitting, sewing, ukulele playing and cooking to do, and I’ve got performances to plan. Just like the precocious introvert that I’m becoming.

How about you? Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? How do you feel about giving public performances? Do you love them, hate them, or do you have the performer’s curse?

In case you’re curious, here is a tiny moment of the performance from my band’s first gig. I’m playing the kazoo. We’re performing a song called “Tonight You Belong To Me,” which was a popular song in the 50s and 60s. It was also featured in the movie, The Jerk. It’s also a song that my sister and I used to harmonize to when we were growing up.

             

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 29, 2014 at 11:45 pm | #

    I am super outgoing and not shy but i know im an introvert at heart because after im social i feel totally drained. i feel best and most full when i have lots of time and energy to funnel in to me!

    • Posted April 6, 2014 at 4:15 pm | #

      I think we’re the same type of person, Lacy. Outgoing, not shy, but needing lots of alone time.