At some point in my life, more than a few people suggested that I was an introvert. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but it was around the time that everyone started getting caught up in psychology, Rorschach tests, and the color of their parachutes. None of the people who diagnosed me was licensed to practice psychology, or even yoga, but that’s what they said and I believed them.
To be fair, I wasn’t exactly the life of the party. I’d been sick as a kid, missing out on those socialization skills you pick up in adolescence, and I was more interested in schoolwork than extra-curriculars. When people told me I was hard-wired that way, it seemed to fit. Even better, it gave me a reason to conclude I couldn’t change and didn’t need to try.
So I lived my life as an introvert, with solitary hobbies like bike riding, photography, and coin collecting. Later, when I was around 45, I took a Meyers-Briggs test and the results were pretty shocking. According to the test, I wasn’t actually an introvert. In fact, the test concluded that I was comfortable across a broad range from Intro- to Extro- on the -Vert Continuum.
As a result, my filter began to change and I saw the world, including myself, just a bit differently. Slowly, over many years, I became more outgoing, more sociable, more comfortable with strangers. I’m okay with traveling or dining alone and I still enjoy biking and photography, but I would rather be paired up with somebody, or somebodies, to share the experience.
The teenage me would be surprised to see how much I enjoy being with people, engaging with them, entertaining them, and learning from them. Or, maybe, the teenage me would remember the sadness of being alone far too much.
Because, in fact, I was sad to be alone as a teen and I was mistaken in my belief that sadness was the inevitable companion of introverts. Instead, it was the inevitable result of a faulty diagnosis. I simply accepted what other people said about me and followed their prescription to guide much of my life.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s pretty common for people to shove you into a box and put a label on it, even though they aren’t going to move into that box with you or help you to work your way out of it. And if they make the wrong diagnosis, they’ll give you an ailment you didn’t have already, without offering a cure.
I can’t go back, of course, and my regret is softened by the knowledge that painful experiences teach us how to cope later in life. The people who put me in the wrong box when I was younger did me no favor, but they did give me an insight I can pass on to another generation. I’m not exactly gleeful for the lesson, but perhaps someone can benefit from my education.
Now that I’m not afraid of people any more, I’m happy to invite you to join the party by clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.