“What?! You’re an introvert?” The reaction most of my close friends have given me when I told them I had changed from an extrovert to an introvert. In June 2013 I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment and received ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving). I took the assessment again about a month ago and received INFP (Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving). Seeing the “I” on my sheet instead of an “E” was no surprise to me. It can sound weird, but for the past couple of months I could feel myself transforming from an “E” to “I” for a few reasons that I will further explain.
For starters, I believe transitioning from undergrad to grad life influenced the change. When some of my friends were in their first year of graduate school they told me it can feel lonely at times, but I didn’t believe it. Part of this is because when you’re an undergrad and living on campus people are always around and accessible at any time of day (Yes, even 4am). If this was the case in undergrad, what would be any different about living on campus as a graduate student? Well for one, I have an assistantship in Residential Programs as an Assistant Resident Director. Although I am on a campus, it’s in a different capacity than when I was in undergrad.
Secondly, I believe my adaptability has also influenced this. One of my top 5 strengths from the Strengths Quest assessment is adaptability. In my opinion, I view this as an awesome trait. I feel that this helps me to figure out what role I should take in an environment and when. Before starting graduate school I went in with the mindset that I would take a step back, listen and process this new, unknown world around me. When it comes to supervising my RAs this has been beneficial because my active listening skills have greatly improved. My adaptability into this new role helped me to realize that meaningful input into a conversation is better than always saying something just to say it.
Thirdly, I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying time by myself more than ever. This goes back to being in an environment without having my friends constantly in arms reach. In the beginning it was a little difficult because I felt like I always needed to be out doing something. I forced myself to pick up new hobbies and find things that I enjoy doing. Now my hobbies include working out, cooking new recipes from Pinterest, reading books and blogging. Throughout my day I’m most excited about going back to my apartment and being alone after speaking to people all day. When Monday comes around and someone asks me what I did all weekend I am more than okay with saying, “absolutely nothing.”
Lastly, I’m more engaged in one on one conversations than group settings. In the past when I’d be in a group setting I’d always have something I’d like to share. Now when I’m in a group setting I find myself absorbing all of the information being said and lingering after to speak with people one on one. I’m much more focused with less people around. As I was writing this many people were in the office, busy shuffling around and I couldn’t wait for everyone to leave. I do enjoy talking to people, but sometimes the thought of a group can become exhausting when you’re not prepared for it.
I’d like to point out that just because someone has certain qualities according to an assessment does not mean they cannot possess other qualities. These assessments serve as tools to learn more about yourself and how you work with others, but do not completely define who you are. Having certain qualities does not mean you are better or cannot accomplish a task at hand. As individuals we should not be looked down upon because you seem to lack a quality another person has. Knowing our strengths and weaknesses while being able to articulate how we use them greatly benefits teamwork. Diversity among a team creates balance and when taking into account what everyone brings to the table can produce a positive work environment.
With all of this being said, I am proud to own my introvert identity. I am also thankful for experiencing the extrovert side because I can now relate to both. Talking about personality types and strengths has and always will be something I truly enjoy.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Amma Marfo on Introversion in Student Affairs