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Yes and Both

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
Yes and Both

So you know how we like to say that some people are extroverts and some people are introverts?

I think most of us are actually a bit of both… I think we have extroverted moments and introverted moments—some of us just have more of one than the other.

I would call myself a genuinely introverted person with very large BURSTS of extrovertedness.      The problem is, after those bursts I am left like a pile of goo—a big blob of grumpy.    I get extrovert hangovers, and they leave me not wanting to think, talk, smile, create… heck, the idea of showering seems like an insurmountable mountain of a hurdle.      The world becomes a cruel and demanding  place, asking for my participation in it.  How dare I be asked to get out of my pajamas, drive my car, answer the telephone, ponder the lunch.    Truly, the injustice.

(I’m having an extrovert hangover now, in case that hadn’t already become apparent.  I sighed audibly this morning at the prospect of carrying my coffee mug from the counter to the sink)

Does that ever happen to you?   Do you go from a “Hi!  How can I help you?” state-of-mind to a “Go away!  I just want to be alone!” state-of-mind, possibly even in short succession?   (if not, me neither)

But seriously: in those moments, because I feel like I am “supposed” to be an extrovert I feel very guilty when I retreat into my introverted self, like I am somehow being wrong.   I tell myself to snap out of it and get out there again.    Which is awesome because then not only am I craving solitude but I'm also beating myself up in my head for that craving.    So, you know, that ends up being sooo restful.

Here is the problem, as I see it. When we declare ourselves a certain way, or when we say things like “that’s not me” or “I could never do that,” we are just allowing ourselves to find safety in a category.  But in reality, chances are, yes it is you, if you want it to be, and yes you could do that, if you were willing to try.

So if we truly embrace the idea that we are all a bit of both, then we can better allow ourselves to fully chase the extroverted moments and also fully embrace the introverted ones.     It’s a perfect balance of advance/retreat, expose/cover, display/conceal.    I mean, thinking about it  that way, we all should be actively PRACTICING our extroverted side and our introverted side, so we do them both equally well.  It just might well be the path to enlightenment.  Or, if not enlightenment, at least the path to what Walt Whitman once said: "Do I contradict myself?  Very well, then I contradict myself.  I am large.  I contain multitudes."

How can you embrace both your inner extrovert and your inner introvert?

 (I’m going to go take a nap while you think about it)


Interested in having Erika’s blog come directly to your e-mail each Tuesday? Have comments to share?  E-mail her at erika@tlpnyc.com.

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.