Let me invite you into my brain for a minute. I know my struggles aren’t totally unique, but I am also keenly aware that there are many people who excel at the things I am terrible at. Hopefully, someone reading this can give me some advice!!
To start, I’ll give you some context. I am introverted (the technical definition of an introvert is someone who “recharges” by being alone, and loses energy by being around others) but I love people. This provides an interesting but frustrating paradox in my life- I want to be around people, but I’m always scared of losing all my energy in order to socialize. I’m not exaggerating when I say I am e x h a u s t e d after social interactions. I hate typing this out because it makes me sound like an old scrooge who hates people. Which isn’t true!! But something has helped me come to terms with this a bit more. I’ve recently learned a lot about myself through a personality test called The Enneagram (take the test here). If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with personality tests, and this one is my latest obsession. Through this test, I am identified as a Type Five- “The Investigator”. That means I’m the “Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated”.
…..sounds like the life of the party, right? Ha! Getting the test results made me feel like an evil nerd with some secretive plan who locks themselves in their basement all day. For a while, I was like “…… why am I not more fun??” But in actuality, this test made me feel very, very understood. It pointed out certain truths for me that helped me understand why I am the way I am. For one, it made me feel less guilty for having such a hard time being around others. Type Fives have limited energy, and once we run out, it’s not good. When I hit my max capacity for social interaction I find myself fleeing the scene with an urgency similar to when you’re looking for the bathroom after a strong coffee. (Sorry, too much?) It helped me identify that spending time with people is a big sacrifice for me because of how much it takes out of me. Part of why it’s so draining is because I live most of my life in my head. I have crazy stuff going on in there all the time! And when I’m with others, I am required to not only figure out which thoughts to share, but also to actually share them- which is difficult. Isolation is a key quality of my “type”. I can spend an entire day by myself and never get bored!! I can sit alone for hours and be perfectly entertained by my thoughts. It makes the internet even more dangerous too, because I research endless topics and give myself even more to think about (Another characteristic of a Type Five is our obsession with collecting facts and information). When I have to get out of my head, it’s a challenge. Which brings me to my main point.
I am stuck in my head! I have an incredibly difficult time putting ideas into action, and part of this is because of my crippling perfectionism. I’m the person who will write something out on a post-it note and re-write the exact same thing on several more post-it notes until I like my handwriting enough. I literally have multiple drafts of POST-IT NOTES. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of the severity of my situation. On a few of occasions, I’ve succeeded with getting an idea into motion and actually carrying it out. But man, I am slow. For the most part, things take me a long time. I procrastinate because I’m afraid of doing things poorly. And when I do take a crack at something, I often nix it before it even has a chance. Like the video I recorded the other day and then deleted instead of posting. Or the countless blog posts sitting in my documents that I just won’t publish. I have ideas for songs, museums, tv shows, stores, apps, art, books, and LOTS more. I have SO many ideas, but they all feel stuck in my head.
I know this is a mental obstacle for me to overcome, and I recognize that there are ways for me to get out of my comfort zone and accomplish more. I’m not making excuses for myself. I’m just sharing something that I have a feeling more people relate to than I realize. And I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the happiest, most successful people are the ones who got over whatever hurdle that kept them from making their ideas into a reality. I’m still on my way, but I’ll get there! I’m 22 and I don’t pretend to have it all figured out. Most days, I’m hard on myself for all these shortcomings. I’m really good at picking them out! But I also have to say, I’m thankful for the gifts and abilities I’ve been given. I am more than my procrastination, perfectionism, and anxiety. I’m more than my limited amount of energy and tendency to hide out. According to my “type”, I am also insightful and curious. I am “able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills.” I am “independent, innovative, and inventive.” At my best, I am a “visionary pioneer, ahead of my time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.”
I am all these things, and more! Today I am celebrating the small victory it was for me to write this in one sitting and actually publish it the same day. Thanks for reading along!
(All information about The Enneagram and Type Five is cited from www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-5 )
(If you’ve never heard of The Enneagram, I AM URGING YOU to take this test!! It’s been one of the most helpful and insightful tools in learning more about myself as a person. You will not regret looking into it! There’s a whole world of information about it, too- books, podcasts, Instagram accounts, and tons more.)