Out of the Closet

I know what you’re thinking: I’m Tom Cruise.

Actually, I get that a lot (we’re the same height and somewhere in my unmentionables drawer I have the same tighty-whities he had in Risky Business… long story but thankfully it was before digital photography so I’m safe).

No. What this is about is my struggling to come to terms with something I’ve denied for decades:

I’m an Extrovert.

There. I’ve said it. Finally. Feels good.

How did this happen? Was I born this way? Did I have a positive experience during “circle time” when I was a kid? Actually, that’s not even possible. I was born before the vomitous “circle time” was even conceived, thank goodness. Was my brief (there we go, undergarment references, again) sojourn with Brownies a gate-way socialization activity? Possibly, but my mother signed me out the moment she realized money and time (hers) would be involved (aka buying a uniform and driving me to the meetings).

All these decades, I’ve passed as an INTJ/P (depending on which job I was applying for, I adjusted my answers accordingly). I’ve felt INTJ/P. I wanted to be INTJ/P. Generally speaking, the broadcaster for which I worked wanted INTJ/Ps for the money jobs.

But somewhere out there in the ether, I either changed or have been forced to confront my (pardon my language) “extroverted” tendencies I had hitherto passed off as results of my ECT (Early Childhood Training). My parents entertained extensively (think Mad Men but with more booze and less–ew–sex because Ma & Pa were Catholic Brits …. I know, right??) and I spent chunks of my youth working-a-room being precocious and chatty, without coming across as smarmy…. dressed in gingham, wearing patent leather Mary Janes, saying noxious things only an 8 year-old in the early 70s can get away with: “Hello Mr. Smith, how’s your short game?

Truth be told: I do love working-a-room. I’ve often had jobs where all I do is knit connections and work-a-room. But I passed these joys off as fetish: a little bit of harmless strange (no, not strangeness from particle physics, I mean cheating on my introversion) that never hurt anyone. Let’s face it, my Introversion and I really never had The Talk (not to be confused with the show of the same name, which I’ve never seen… but I did see five minutes of The View once while I was in the gym, but I’m ok now). I think we (my Introversion and I) both assumed we were committed (or should be, pun intended) to each other.

Look Dave, I can’t put my finger on it but I sense something strange about him.

–Dr Frank Poole, 2001: A Space Odyssey

Looking back, it was always “little” things. Like the desire to try SnapChat. Yearnings for my own YouTube channel (I really should do something with this). These things don’t mean I’m an extrovert qua extrovert (I just wanted to write “qua“). We live in a new world order and extroversion must naturally (using term loosely) morph into Extrovert Nouveau.

By the way, extrovert should not be confused with extravert (look it up, I’m googled-out). That’s another blog for another day.

No, wait, I’m a N/Extrovert™

But Extrovert Nouveau (or Nouvelle, as I’m a cis-gendered chickie-poo) that’s a cumbersome term. So after a brief discussion with my Personal Results Whisperer (life coaches are for the banal), Kelly, I’m going with N/Extrovert™. The reason is three-fold:

  1. I retain the “n” from “introvert” and show that I continue to “present” with features of the introvert
  2. I have embedded the word “next” to show a continuum of “-version
  3. I made a typo, writing “an extrovert” and voila, a new genre of ontology was born. I threw in the slash for yuks.

Yes, in the Twenty-Teens, things can happen just like that.

Intro/Extro-version as binaries are limiting and do not celebrate the spectrum of cross-contiguous difference and random homogeneity. I’m only an extrovert, that is to say, in the case of my online-ontology. “Real” people give me the fantods. I use the term “real” loosely of course (so you non-nextroverts can have a common point-of-reference). At home, I’m an introvert for the most part, unless caffeine or a dare is involved.

Online, though, that’s another thing. I am closer to my IG peeps than I am to my own family. At least my online peeps “like” my photos of my tulips, dammit. I have two sibs on IG who never even acknowledged my new cunning hashtag: #geegarden2017. What’s going on with that? You can’t choose your family but… well, you get the idea.

The hashtag, my friends, is thicker than water.

The more I dwelt with the online world, the more I wanted some good ol’ Althusserian “hailing” because I realized it wasn’t enough for me to be an individual but what I really wanted, needed, was to be a concretized subject (I’m extrapolating wildly enough and gesturing… which means I really need to get back to that YouTube channel).

In other words, I found I did indeed crave the thumbs-up, stars, and hearts of my peers–perceived or actual. In fact, I wanted to pander to them, entertain them, receive their accolades (the sword-kind, not the praise and approval because that diminishes me as a human).

To wit: no longer was I content with solitudinous self-actualization. I needed the multitudinous nod of the “outside” world.

But hey, not too real.

My Personal Results Whisperer offers that I may suffer from Extroversion Introversion Spectrum  Disjunctivitis (EISD). She may have a point there. EIS-D is what we’ve been calling it. But was it always there, or did the turbulent but shallow waters of online social mores bring this out? 

Spiritual growth or physical carbuncle? Only my Personal Results Whisperer knows for sure. 

In the meantime, I better go fashion a cunning meme for this post so I can garner some external validation. And if you know someone who’s struggling with N/Extroversion™, give them a thumb’s up, a smiley face, a few stars. Let them know you’re kinda there for them. But hey, not too close. Better yet, share this post but just remember to mark it #TLDR.

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