The month I started dating the man who would become my
husband I took the Myers-Briggs test and scored almost 100 percent in extroversion. No one who knew me was surprised, since I was
the one who spent her downtime with friends and chatted up people in the
grocery store line. For my entire life,
I’ve been pegged as an extrovert. Spending
too many hours alone made me cranky, lonely and restless. When it came to the social world, I wanted as
much as I could possibly get. As for my
inner world, it simply didn’t captivate me the way the world around me did.
However, six years ago, I became a mother and this
fundamental bedrock part of my personality started to transform. Not abruptly—it wasn’t like one day I was
yucking it up with all my pals, and the next day I went all J. D. Salinger and
shut out the world. But gradually, I
started to retreat from the person who wanted the world rushing in all the
time, to someone who needed lots of alone time to recharge.
I realized the transformation was complete after my second
was born. Whenever I had an hour to
myself, I wanted to take walks along—without my phone (gasp!)—or lay on my bed
with a book. Whereas time with other people used to energize me, now it seemed to
sap my vitality and compel me to the nearest couch for a nap to recover from
being around people.
Who had I become?
Maybe my extroversion fell out when I delivered my placenta.
It’s a dramatic question, but an honest inquiry. I didn’t recognize this solitude seeker I’d
become. Like so much of motherhood, no
one told me my entire personality would shift. I had to learn to adapt on the fly and let the old pieces of myself—my extroversion,
my perky breasts, my full nights of sleep—fall away in the wake of a new era.
Of all the ways that motherhood has profoundly changed me,
this is the biggest. Shifting from
lifelong extroversion to an introversion strikes at my fundamental sense of who
I am. When I think back to my former way
of interacting with the world, I feel a wistful longing for that woman who
seems to have disappeared.
Someone new is here and I’m still getting to know her.
I may never know why my personality underwent this radical
change. Maybe I was meant to be an
introvert all along. Maybe my
extroversion fell out when I delivered my placenta. Maybe when I pass through these physically and
emotionally demanding early years of motherhood, my extrovert will
reappear. When my children are more
independent, perhaps I’ll have space to crave the social world in ways I wish
to shut it out now.
In the meantime, I simply wish for some peace and quiet so I
can ponder these thoughts alone and get to know this new part of myself.