"What do you think I am? An introvert or an extrovert?" I asked a group of 20 to 30 participants and alums of the Leadership Wood Buffalo program last night.

"There is no doubt you are a dyed in the wool raging extrovert," said one person, or a facsimile thereof; I'm not sure of the exact words that were said.

"Actually no," I said.  "I'm the exact opposite."

I guess it all depends on your definition of the terms.  I just took an online test that pegged me as an ambivert, or a person who lies in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum.  But, in my own mind, I am really an introvert who is really good at appearing otherwise.

After being "on" in a large group setting, I often feel completely exhausted and need time to myself to recharge. In fact, if I don't get my early mornings of solitude at the computer or my evenings in the studio, my overall strength and effectiveness diminishes.  My colleagues at the United Way know that I dash home for a quick lunch and snooze almost every day.  That 5 or 10 minutes of slowing down my heart rate actually fuels me for the rest of the day.

My abilities and comfort in being able to network, work a room, emcee, and facilitate go way back to my years in the radio broadcasting business.  My job required me to come out of my shell and get in front of people.  In the process, I discovered that I was rather good at it.  I really came into my own during my Q14-Stettler years (1992-95).  While it was a personally challenging period - I went through a divorce - it was also when my fears began to dissipate and my confidence build.

Some people may jump to the conclusion that I am an extrovert because of my acting.  I can dissolve into a character and get in front of 600 people and do whatever is required to move the story forward.  However, ask any of my acting colleagues and they will tell you what I am like backstage or in rehearsal.  I am that person sitting (or standing) in total silence and focus, coiling up my energy and intentions for the next scene.

I'm liking this "ambivert" label as it seems to fit.  Take my live painting - which I am going to be doing tonight at the Harvest of Hope fundraiser - as an example.  I love creating in a crowd. But it is because I am able to shut out the cacophony and feed off the energy in the space.  The activity and noise become the soundtrack of the experience.

My life, looking in the rearview mirror, has been a quest for balance: the right amount of public time mixed in with the right amount of private time and appropriate rest.  I get better with the balance as I get older.


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