Social media makes it all too easy for you to think something is something that it isn't. It can give you false ideas about people, places, and events. It's especially dangerous when it comes to only sharing the highlights and shiny parts of your life (FOMO, anyone?). For the most part, we all want to be liked. We want everyone else to think that we're enjoying our lives, succeeding at our dreams, and having a grand old time. Social media can lead us to believe all sorts of incorrect stories and identities. We start constructing how we perceive others to be by putting them in boxes that make sense to us: nerd, workaholic, partier, homebody, socialite. Since grade school, I've been a person that greatly dislikes being put into boxes. And at one point last year, someone referred to me as a socialite in a negative manner and they couldn't be further from the truth.
Do y'all know about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test? It's been a fad for several years now, and it's almost as pervasive as astrology when it comes to people trying to put you in a box. You meet someone new these days and they automatically want to know what your Myers-Briggs type is. Between being told by others what they thought I was, and taking the test once, I was pegged as an ENFP at first, and then later, an ENFJ. The only important part (for the purpose of this post) to remember out of this acronym is the E - because it stands for Extraversion. Being extraverted generally means that you pull energy from that of others, you enjoy being in group settings, and you feel comfortable being in or near the center of attention.
People might assume that I'm a socialite or an extravert because I am "out" while DJing and go to events here and there around the city. For the most part, I consider DJing to be a job (that I love), so just because I'm up until 3am some weekends doesn't mean I want to be out amongst the stumblers, ramblers, and generally tipsy type. DJing doesn't mean you are or want to be the center of attention, either. I spin for the love of music and to help others enjoy themselves while out. Nothing is more satisfying than a full crowd at a bar, bumping along to the music you're playing. In addition to DJing, many of the events I have attended in the past few years around Saint Louis have been connected to blogging, which I too consider a job.
Toss in my friendly charisma, and you have a strong case for this whole socialite/ENFJ gibberish.
Enter my therapist. Recently, we talked about how I have felt that my energy had been completely sapped by this past year. She asked if I preferred one-on-one time with people and partners rather than in big groups, and I answered yes. She asked if I feel like I need to recharge by being at home, and if I hit "a wall" while being in busy environments for too long. I also answered yes to these. And then she said, "So, you must be an introvert."
I replied, "Wait. I've always thought I'm an extravert."
She said, "Are you sure?"
Surprise! I'd been beginning to wonder this myself. Over the last several months, I would fall apart after being over-stimulated at busy bars while not DJing/working. Being in groups of people might make me feel neglected or alone because I thrive on those one-on-one interactions. Everyone seemed to constantly assume I could go, go, go until the sun would rise, when in fact you might discover me clutching the edge of the bar whispering aloud to no one, "I just want to go home." But how could I be what seemed like such the opposite of who I (and apparently many people who knew me) thought I was?
I was temporarily beyond confused. You could find me hiding in my bed for nearly two weeks on end every second that I wasn't at work. The realization that I had been trying conduct myself as an ENFJ while I was most likely not one opened floodgates of accidental understanding. Suddenly, a whole lot of the mess I was sifting through while healing made quite a bit more sense.
I talked with a friend a weeks ago about losing yourself. A sense of self-loss can be brought about by many things, and although her situation and mine are not equal - because every human experiences different journeys - they are similar in response to grief and healing. I wouldn't say that right now I don't know who I am, because I have worked throughout my life to "know" me. I know where my morals, ethics, dreams, and passions lie. Even in my darkest moments, I can remind myself what makes me "me." I'm very proud of not changing for the worse, when it would have been so easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. If you work to know your true self, doesn't that mean that you ARE your best self?
If you spend a good chunk of time trying to fit into a box that is mislabeled, eventually things may get a little muddy. I still not 100% certain about this Myers-Briggs hullabaloo, but I do now further grasp how it can help you evaluate how you relate to others. I won't fully ever subscribe to this idea that your assigned letters describe you completely. Thanks to therapy, and a little self-reflection, however, I'm much closer to understanding the parts of myself that have largely been ignored or dismissed due to a silly box with a sticker that says ENFJ.
And now? I'm looking forward to getting to know my introverted self better.
Photo: A. Gillardi Photo