This past week, I took out a book on the enneagram from the library. Last night after dinner, I went to bed very early, then woke up just as everyone else was just turning in for the night, so I had some quiet awake time on my hands. I decided to explore the enneagram and find out what "my" number is. It was a few hours of reading and re-reading descriptors and figuring out which ones applied to me. It was a few hours of comparing reactions to situations and examining what characteristics came out in those situations. I had a lot of trouble deciding between two numbers. Eventually I figured out that the reason for the difficulty is because I have changed. I used to be so shy, 100% introverted. So quiet and guarded and closed. I'm not like that anymore, but those characteristics do linger in my mind and my body. They aren't forcibly suppressed; they just happily hang out in the background, lounging and snacking, while my newer more extroverted self develops.
I see it everyday now - being with people energizes me. I love conversations. I love to meet new people. Over the last seven months, I have been studying and updating my professional skills. My main goal was to receive an Office Administration Certificate, and as I went along, I added on two more certificates - Bookkeeping Principles and Applications, and also Business Communication. Between the Office Admin and Business Communication certificates, I ended up taking a LOT of courses on communication - writing, speaking, negotiating, dealing with conflict and difficult people, body language, listening. There was a common thread that ran through each of them and I picked it up very quickly, and set out to improve myself by mastering this one small thing. Thousands of tuition dollars later, I will give you my takeaway for free - ask good questions.
I have never been a great conversationalist, but I can see myself improving as I seek to ask good questions. I can feel it. It isn't scary for me to be around people anymore. It is not uncomfortable to be with strangers. Today I went to a large party and had a blast. I stepped out of my old comfort zone and dressed up in a costume and wasn't embarrassed about it. I joined a team with my husband and two other couples that we'd never met before, and we raced around a small city gathering clues and performing tasks. After our 'amazing race', we went back to a house party and I had conversations with five people I know well, two acquaintances, and at least six people that I didn't know before today. It was great!
The more I realize how much I love to communicate in person, the more I put myself in the position to make it happen. I compliment people that intimidated me in the past. I start conversations with other moms after school as our children play (sometimes for hours!) on the playground. A "hello" to neighbours I don't know well can end up being a conversation with them and their friends about weekend plans and movie recommendations.
I find myself seeking out opportunities for visits, coffee dates, lunch dates, walks, shopping dates, pedicures (!) with friends who express interest in those sorts of things. I seriously feel like a butterfly coming out of a quiet dark cocoon, ready to explore the world around me. I'm excited for summertime and I hope that I'll be able to hang out with friends at parks and on the beach while the kids run and play. And I am looking forward to September when I'll re-enter the workforce and get to grow my world even more. People make my life awesome, and I'm so glad for every one that I am blessed to meet and to know.