Extrovert Epiphany

Posted: June 14, 2010 in ADHD, Life

Isn’t it amazing how mistaken a person can be?

I never thought I could be so wrong about something.  I’m not sure why any of it matters, really – except that it does.  Probably because I’ve believed an untruth for such a long time.  Learning the truth has been the equivalent of me learning that the sun is really the moon and the moon really is just a big plate in the sky.

It all stems from a comment one of my favourite bloggers wrote on the last blog.

contoveros (a.k.a. Michael J.) wrote: 

“You an introvert? 
Nah.  Not the way you write!
You got extrovert written all over you.
Nice guy, but no introvert.”

I disagreed with him.  Told him why he was wrong.  Told him why I’m an introvert.

Learned the truth over the weekend.  The resulting mind-rush has left me a little messed up.

Let’s start with what “they” (whoever they are) say about introvert and extrovert personalities.  

A psychiatrist who was speaking at an ADHD conference on the weekend said something like this:

“An introvert speaks from the head; from the mind.  He rarely shows emotion and in fact can be mistaken for dull.  He’s more interested in the facts, not the feelings behind them.  Introverts” he went on to say “do have feelings.  Don’t get me wrong.  But they’re buried deep inside.”

“An extrovert, on the other hand, wears his heart on his sleeve.  He’s invested in the heart of things and when he feels, he feels deeply.”

I can hardly keep it together when watching a particularly well-acted movie where the heroine dies, leaving her young son behind.   (So fucking annoying, that.)  I’m keenly aware of people, and can often “read” them within a few seconds.  This awareness has everything to do with their emotions, their body language, the flickering look they get in their eyes, everything. 

But what about this need to process everything before reacting?  Why this abhorrence to displays of drama? (And oh dear Lord yes – I *hate* being around overly dramatic people)

The psychiatrist opined:  “sometimes people, when they’re young, start off either as an extrovert but conditions dictate that they have to grow up fast”  (check)

“Sometimes, they have to submerge their extraversion into a semblance of introversion, just to survive” (uh oh.  check again)

“And it’s only when they get older that they feel free to let loose and be the extrovert that was always there.” (uh huh.  Life of the party.  Hmm. )

But wait.  What about the fact that I can’t stand being around people for too long?

(Someone cue the ADHD marching band)

“ADHD people have minds that go all over the place.  They don’t want to stay in one place for too long.”  (Shit.  Check.   This explains why it’s hard to be around “normal” people who talk about “normal” things.  It also explains why there are so many problems staying focused when in a classroom or lecture or speech.  Or teleconference call, even when I’m the moderator.  I thought it was me being drained – as I told Michael – but it’s not.  It’s that I’m way too easily bored).

Finally, I discussed the whole ADHD conference with a gorgeous friend of mine at work today.  

**Why do I say she’s gorgeous?
==> Because she is.
**Yeah, but what’s significant about her appearance?
==>Well it’s more than her appearance, really.  She has a bright, curious gorgeous mind too.
**Right.  So what?
==>Well, I like her OK?  Get over it.
**FINALLY!  We get to the heart of it.
==>Pfft.  Whatever.

ANYWAY.   She said something startling.  And she said it so matter-of-factly – like everyone knew this and where the hell have I been that I missed it – that it left me a little shocked.  “You?  You’re not an introvert.  C’mon.  YOU?  No way.  You’re an extrovert like me.”

And there it was.

So Michael.  I’m wrong and you’re right.  For the rest of you reading this – take a look at the last blog.

This changes everything.

Also….

Time to party.

P.S. I got an iPad.

*snicker*

Comments
  1. suzrocks says:

    I’m not so sure you could be labeled. I don’t think you fit into any certain mold. You’re very analytical, but you’re also very open minded. Anyhoot… how’s the ipad? I’m dying to get one, but everyone keeps advising me against it.

    Like

    • You and JustKate seem to agree. Honestly, I felt weird even writing this blog. It just seemed important to me – and I can’t really explain why. Weird, huh?

      I LOVE THE IPAD!! It’s simply awesome. I’ve purchased about nine books through the Kindle app on it, and have read one already (since Saturday). The display is spectacular, and it’s so *great* to have access to internet everywhere. Have that with the iPhone of course but it’s not the same. The tiny iPhone screen just doesn’t make surfing the net anything any sane person would want to do.

      Showed it off to everyone today at work. I’d say more but …. I feel a blog coming on.

      Like

  2. JustKate says:

    I’m not sure how to respond to this, so I guess I’ll just write and see what comes.

    It’s tempting to try to categorize ourselves and others, to say that we or they are this or that type of person, when the truth is that people are complex and not easily labeled or defined. Definitions tempt us because we want to order our world. It’s a bit like religion. We want to say that thus and such is TRUE and indisputable, and this fits here, and that fits there.

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again for the sake of conversation: I’m not sure you’re really ADD, my friend. You’re YOU. You’re bright and restless and easily bored. I’m 100% convinced that being bright isn’t a disorder. It might be UNUSUAL *wry smile* but a disorder? No. I could go off on this topic alone but I’m going to leave it in favor of another.

    You’re definitely up and down. I can often *feel* you from across the miles, simply by reading a sentence or two. You do wear your heart on your sleeve, it’s true. Does that make you an extrovert? Not in my book. What I see in you is honesty and sincerity. The heart of you always bleeds through. I was startled by it when we first met. I doubted you. You remember…

    I suppose there’s a core you but I couldn’t begin to uncover him. I’m not even sure it’s possible to peel back the layers of life experience to find the pure essence of anyone. I’ve taken the Meyers- Briggs, Jungian tests and a myriad of others. At one point, in my early 20’s I tested and scored equal parts sanguine and melancholy and was told that it simply wasn’t possible. I re-tested and got the same result. Hm… I think it IS possible. *grins*

    I’m an extrovert with hermit tendencies. I’m so easily bored that I stay away from people for fear of offending them. I tend to do outrageous things when I’m bored, merely to entertain myself. I can also be very dark, intense, and inside myself when I’m not running barefoot in the grass playing with my dogs or riding horses…

    People are complex, you no less than anyone else. ;)

    Finally, I recently underwent an evaluation at my primary care doctor’s request, which included an IQ test. I’d already had an IQ test in college, so I wasn’t surprised by the result. When I received the results of the whole study/evaluation, the doctor took a deep breath and said he didn’t feel comfortable diagnosing me as anything other than terribly bright and therefore unusual. I laughed out loud and said, “Please just give me a pill.”

    The conversation that followed was fascinating. ANYWAY, I suspect that given the same set of tests you might receive a somewhat similar result, Doug. It would be easy to slap a label of ADD on you. It’s been the diagnosis du jour for over a decade.

    Today you’re an extrovert… the idea interests you and feels like an epiphany. Tomorrow, next month, next year, you’ll latch onto something else. You’re a restless Wolf.

    Like

    • Thank you Katy. I truly appreciate what you’re saying here, even as I respectively disagree (somewhat). Or maybe it’s not that I disagree but….have you ever have someone sit down in front of you and list out about a dozen situations…qualities….where you just came away stunned because they all described you perfectly? That’s what these ADD conferences have done for me. There have been studies done on this condition, which conclude there are number of genes involved, which means it’s hereditary. I won’t go into it more than that, but……there are reasons why this diagnosis is so important to me. It has to do with things that have been impossible to accomplish – including the writing of my book. Simply because the distractions get to be too much.

      Don’t get me wrong – I don’t see ADD as a totally negative thing. Not at all! There are a lot of pluses with this thing, involving energy and creativity.

      If there’s a way of evening things out, just enough to get through to some objectives, from A to Z – I’m all over it. :)

      Like

      • After a night of sleep, my mind keeps coming back to this comment of yours. You know I’ve never been a fan of labelling, because as you said “people are complex”. And so I have to backtrack here a little bit and say that ADHD and the introvert/extrovert question is not the be-all and end-all of anyone, including me. I’d hate for someone to introduce me and say “please meet wolf, the ADD-Extroverter.” :)

        It’s just one of many facets but for me it’s a key component and something I need to deal with – just as being an artistic type, and the corresponding need to satisfy that part as well, through music, writing, etc.

        As for the “diagnosis du jour” thing – the notion that kids are being labelled with this, as a means of dismissing their bad behaviour has been all over the news and commentary sections of newspapers for quite some time. The adult-ADD thing though – that’s new. At least to me it is. People love pigeon-holing others “oh you’re just a liberal”, etc. The difference here is that when people can’t figure out why they can’t keep jobs, or why they drop out of school out of frustration when they are *clearly* intelligent, when they can’t keep focus – if there’s an underlying condition causing all of this, verified by medical professionals – why is that a bad thing?

        “Diagnosis du jour” implies a thought that perhaps the condition doesn’t exist at all; that it’s just a fad, a trend. That’s the equivalent of saying “oh you don’t have a migraine and need Fiorinal; it’s just a bad headache. Get over it.” Gnome sayin’?

        Like

        • I agree with Katy on the ADD thing…to label yourself as ADD…I mean maybe I have a problem with it because my ex supposedly had it. They forced him to take medication as a kid and he hated it. He hated that just because he didn’t want to focus on certain things they forced his mind to focus with drugs. He did not have ADD when he played video games. Or did acting. Or did writing. He had ADD when he did not have an interest in something.

          I have read stories about kids eating a lot of fast food that were diagnosed ADD and labeled “aggressive.” When they changed their diets, the ADD and aggressiveness left after a period of horrid withdrawal symptoms.

          I was trained by a coach, who has “cured” kids diagnosed with ADD. He managed to get them to focus as much on their homework as on their video games.

          I fear that if I talked to a doctor I would be labeled ADD because I constantly get lost in thought. I don’t know how many times I have “burnt” water – that is to say left a pot on the stove and forgotten about it. I have on numerous occasions missed my bus stop as I was lost in thought. I have lost a great deal of items on the bus. My family calls me “the professor.” My dad argues that one day I will forget my own head. I guess because when something catches my mind I forget about something else. This is why I am called “dizzy blonde” – I see a cute guy and I fall over. I think about one thing and I do another. And I never study until last minute – before that I can’t focus. For the sake of my great memory though, I could still write A:s. So I was never labeled having a problem.

          I go about cleaning a place doing one thing. Seeing another. Doing that. Seeing another. Doing that. My mind constantly jumps and I jump with it. I feel I can’t walk in a straight line, I more or less have to multi-task. I love different things so I had a hard time feeling whole just doing one thing (entrepreneur/medicine woman/artist). My Principal in school talked about how our consciousness adapts to surroundings – as a kid I jumped from rock to rock – that was my summers. I was also brought up by 9 different people. I had a lot of different habits and ideals in my head. I jump. That’s my pattern.

          Can I focus if I choose to? Can I walk a straight line if I choose to? Yes, probably. And maybe ADD people can’t do that, but I have heard story after story about people that had ADD and they were absolutely fabulous at focusing on what they care about and absolutely not good at focusing on doing work they hated.

          I have read stories about people medically classified as having migraines. They were taught relaxation techniques and practiced and practiced and practiced, until one day, when they felt the migraine coming on they could relax so much it didn’t happen. The mind is a powerful tool.

          Kate’s statement that whatever we are, we are more than that, holds true to me. Also, what we focus on expands. =)

          I know how you feel about the iPad – you should have seen me with my Nikon. Of course I lost it though…insured, thankfully. Once I broke it too – rolled it up in a jacket so as to protect it. Forgot about it. Lifted the jacket and dropped the camera. But then I was never as attached to the things around me as my thoughts.

          I have gotten better with the years. Mainly because I was a walking fire hazard. My best friend is another walking hazard. So living together, we do our best to shape up. Still happens that she finds burning pots and I find the key in the door, or the door wide open…

          Anyway, I am not doctor, nor have I been diagnosed ADD. I can only tell the tales I have heard and the practices (mental) that I believe in. Plus I was forced to eat so much medication as a kid for my asthma, but the doctors never told me about the simple holistic changes that I could have made, the herbal remedies I could have tried. Instead they gave me drugs that reportedly “fry your brain”. If a drug kills one thing, it usually destroys another too. Herbs don’t usually do that. So I’m a bit touchy feely about western medicine. It’s great for emergencies…but to prescribe people with drugs to solve problems that could be solved if they just ate properly etc… argh.

          iPad…hmmm I want a new Macbook…and s NIKON…and an iPhone…and maybe an iPad… :)

          Like

          • Thanks for your comment DB (hate calling you “DB” mostly because that’s putting a label on you, even though you put it there yourself. *grin*)

            I was just talking with a friend today about all of this. I suppose I’d be the first guy who would strenously object to being labelled as one thing – and I try not to do it to others as well. In this case, though, I would suggest that is a labelling of a facet of me (out of many facets), not all of me.

            And of course I would never presume to “diagnose” anyone (other than myself) as having ADD. Having said that though, and in reference to what you wrote here, let me say this:

            People with ADD are able to focus at times. Like you, I got great grades in school but *never* by studying during the term. I always crammed the night before. What I did though was something that is common to all people who have ADD – I hyperfocused. I do that a lot, actually. Like when I can’t stand how dirty my place is, I got into hyperfocus mode and nothing distracts me at all until it’s all done. I also hyperfocus when playing video games – to the extent that I lose track of time and forget about other commitments I may have made (like having dinner or getting to bed on time). I don’t think a lot of people who don’t have ADD understand this seeming dichotomy – this ADD inability to focus at times while at other times, one has mad focus skills.

            Meds have come a long way since ten or twenty years ago, and can prove instrumental in assisting folk with being able to focus, just so that they can keep their jobs, their relationships and the like. Obviously there are variations in the ADD community – not everyone is going to lose their jobs because of this, yet many do.

            Did you know there are a number of genes associated with the condition? Which is why we’re learning that it’s an inherited thing – not a condition brought about through environment. Like you, I jump from thing to thing to thing, often not finishing any of them. And the only thing I dislike about taking any meds for it, is that I *like* the thoughts that careern through my brain. They’re all so very interesting and much of the mundane humdrum world around me is deadly dull.

            Think I might write more on this in another blog. It’s a fascinating subject for me.

            Oh, and if you have to choose between a Macbook and a NIKON and an iPhone and an iPad – I’d go for the iPad. The iPhone is just the iPad lite (except that you can make phone calls with it). And if you go for a Macbook, make it a Macbook Pro – 17″. :)

            Like

  3. Not sure how to break this to you Wolfie – but anyone who has read here already knew this…

    (well – we did)

    *grin*

    M.L.

    Like

  4. thelilmisses says:

    interesting post. im curious to read more about this…(im in reflection mode these days)

    Like

  5. wordofabe says:

    Ha ha. My thoughts are along the lines of those already expressed. From your blogs, which are usually an expression of your life, I would never have known you thought yourself an introvert.

    I also agree with those who find issue with the whole idea of labeling. I think that a main premise of the scientific process is to segment things, categorize them, and label them. This works great with flowers, bugs, stars, and chemicals. It doesn’t work so great with human behaviors. My wife and I are experiencing this first hand with our little guy in the school system who now has an official “label”. Last year, the same process found that he did not fit in the category. This year, he did.

    As a youngster, it was determined that I was a Creative type. I could draw, paint, sing, write, but along with these positives, I believe that a perception was built around me that I would only excel at “artsy” stuff. I tried it, going to a commercial art school to become an illustrator, only to realize that this was a starving world and that I couldn’t feed my young family on the non-wages of a starving artist. So I went to college and majored in a scientific field. I’ll never forget something my dad said to me as I was beginning my career, “I didn’t ever think you would go into a science field.”

    I’ve always been irritated with the categorization of “right brain” or “left brain” people–artistic OR logical, creative OR scientific. Think about some of the great persons from history: Da Vinci is a great example–someone who pursued the arts, sciences, philosophy, spirituality–he had no one to limit him to an “either or” category. He did it all. The same could be said of many others, including Benjamin Franklin.

    Hey, good blog! You made me think about stuff.

    Like

    • Yes. As I just now mentioned to Katy – these things are just components of who we are. They aren’t front and center – they don’t define us, except as facets. You are clearly *clearly* an artistic type. But that doesn’t make you any less of an academic, right?

      Would you have done yourself any favours had you sought to avoid the “artistic” label by not pursuing it at all? My guess is that you wouldn’t. You needed to explore that avenue. I don’t know if it drove you at any time, though I suspect it did. Just as your love of music does.

      It’s the same here with extroversion and ADD for me. They aren’t the sum total of who I am, not at all. But they are valid components that I need to get a handle on, if only to allow me to work through them to complete my work projects. I’m frankly overwhelmed when presented with a project. Always have been, even back in school days. Scares the shit out of me, and until now, I didn’t know why. For my works’ sake, I’d like to start NOT avoiding projects, but I admit – i’m going to need help with that.

      I’d also like to sit down for two hours on a regular basis and work on my book, instead of being distracted to kingdom come.

      The positive side of ADD is that there are a lot of bright ideas that fly around in my head all the time. They’re cool, and interesting and I like that they’re there. Sometimes though – the multitude of them are too distracting for words.

      Like

      • wordofabe says:

        Ooh, I hear you on the ideas. Mine all play through to a gigantic entrepeneureal finish…they are all so good! Focus. Focus.

        You are right, I had to pursue the artistic venue. I learned quickly that I did not necessarily need to make my living through my artistic expressions–though I need to get them out there. I haven’t touched a paint brush in 20 years, but music creation and involvement has never left me and never will.

        Like

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