For most of my life, whenever I would describe myself, I’d say loud and proud that I’m an ‘extrovert’. I loved going to parties, I loved meeting as many people as I could, I wanted to have ALL the friends and would happily give up my time to help anyone in need. I also didn’t let myself “feel” a lot of things, meaning I wouldn’t get emotionally attached to anything.
A couple of months ago I had a photoshoot recently with the amazing Fi Mims. I was feeling awkward, uncomfortable, like I looked like a baby giraffe and didn’t know what to do. Fi told me just to be myself and asked how other people describe me. My immediate response was “Oh I’m an extrovert!”.
This comment seemed to take Fi back, and she said “Really?”
That made me think. My automatic response was to say extrovert, because that’s what I had been for so many years. But in that moment, I didn’t feel like an extrovert and saying it almost felt like a lie. I wasn’t sure what I was. I have changed so much as a person the last few years. How do I describe myself now?
I also had a girls’ trip to Bali with 14 girls coming up, which to be honest, I was a little anxious about. It was only while I was there that I actually stopped and assessed how I had changed from who I use to be to who I am today. The things that I use to shy away from versus the things I now find most important and need in my life.
The old Jaci loved to go out, whether it be to party or for dinner, but always wanted to be doing something. She wanted to meet as many people as she could and have as many friends as possible, and she believed she had an abundance of close friends, all from different circles. She was confident when she met new people and confident in herself. She didn’t have to have deep conversations, just wanted the conversation to be never ending.
BUT – if she was going to reveal the secrets of her past, her past pains, she would need to think about it for a while, and really prepare herself for what she was going to say and the emotions that would come up during that conversation. There were only a handful of people she trusted with this information and she never really talked about it. She didn’t like to be vulnerable. She was strong and didn’t want people to see she had cracks and scars just like everyone else.
She believed she was happy, but to put it bluntly, I didn’t want to be 'seen'. I was afraid to be seen.
When I went through another really difficult time in my life during 2016 and 2017, I learnt that a lot of the people I thought were close friends, weren’t. Unfortunately, the statement of “In hard times you learn who your real friends are”, that my partner use to always say to me, became a reality. This alone took a long time to process. I was in denial about it for a while and made excuses as to why people hadn’t spoken to me, but in the end, they just weren’t close friends.
I now have less close friends, but the friends I do have mean the world to me. I love them, I respect them, I don’t care about their flaws (because that’s what makes them, them), it doesn’t matter if we don’t speak for a couple of months and I would do absolutely anything for them. The best part is, that I wholeheartedly believe they feel the same way about me.
How else have I changed?
I’m a lot softer and I feel more, I feel a lot.
I really value deep, meaningful conversations and I want to learn more about my friends. I want to get to know them on a deeper level and most importantly, I want them to know me on a deeper level.
My relationships are stronger. I attract amazing, inspiring people into my life.
I need ‘me time’ and down time. I’ve never looked after myself as well as I do now, and I could never go back to my old ways of constantly burning the candle at both ends. Don’t get me wrong, I still like to go out and do things, dinners, getaways and whatnot, but I don’t want to be out all the time. I want weekends at home with my man.
I’m more honest than I’ve ever been. I’m no longer scared that my thoughts don’t matter and someone might not agree with what I say.
I actually no longer care what people think of me... Let me clarify this one – the wonderful Julie Parker once said “What other people think of you is none of your business!”. Fuck this hit home! My whole life I was so scared of losing friends or saying something that might cause conflict that I was rarely completely myself. I thought far too much about what other people think of me. Whereas now, I understand and respect that not everyone is going to like me, and people will always say things about me behind my back, and that’s ok. Because they aren’t my people and nothing I can do will change how they think, so why waste my time on these people? I can’t tell you how refreshing having this new mindset is.
I don’t wear the mask of a super strong, never had a problem in her life, happy all the time and life’s a breeze mask.
I’ve discovered that I have a spiritual side (WTF!). And I LOVE it.
I’m not afraid to be seen.
I am, for the first time in 17 years, completely happy, fulfilled and in love with my life.
So… have I become an introvert? No, I don’t think so. But if someone asked me how I would describe myself, I’d probably say (just to throw a spanner in the works), I’m an ambivert. I’m a mixture of both and it depends on the situation.
Maybe I’ve always been this way and not realised, because the extrovert was the mask that stopped me really connecting with who I am.
I do know for sure that I am a deeper thinker and feeler than ever before. I value my life and the people in my life more than ever before, and I feel that everything I have been through is for a reason. I'm grateful for everything I've been through because it’s all lead me to be the person I am, living the life I live, today.
I’d love to know if you’re an introvert, an extrovert or an ambivert. Has this changed over time or have you always been the same? Or, do you have certain traits and beliefs that may have changed? I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you’d like some guidance on how to stop holding yourself back, move past obstacles and start living the life you want - filled with happiness - I'd love to hear from you.