I am not someone who has ever thought of himself as an extrovert. When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test several years ago I was clear an introvert. And, I continue to see myself as someone who is comfortable with the idea of being alone. Alone to think. Alone to run. Alone to cook. Alone to just do things.
I bet my fellow runners in Back on My Feet or with the Charm CIty Run training groups would be surprised to hear that I have always considered myself to be a strong introvert.
It is important to remember that being introverted in a "Myers-Briggs" sense means that a person draws strength from being alone. Likes to "return" to being alone. It is not that the introverted person does not like groups.
But as I continue my process of "running, reflection, and writing," I am quickly realizing that maybe if I took the Myers-Briggs test now, I'd come out much more mixed or perhaps even an extrovert. I am beginning to find, in my 40's, that I draw strength from group settings. Indeed, it is true that I still am most comfortable talking with just a single other runner. And, I doubt I will ever be a strong extrovert/life of the party type. But, I do find myself shifting.
The contrast between my introverted history and my more extroverted future was very evident in two recent runs. On Saturday morning, I was enjoying hanging with the Charm City Run group before we got started. I could have gone with two friend from last fall, but went with the large group--sort of. I say sort of, because I actually went the same direction as the large group but then took off at my own pace so that I'd make a later morning commitment. When I was caught, I enjoyed talking with another runner--and really felt like I drew strength from the presence of and conversation with another runner.
Then, this morning, I made a commitment to go with the Back on My Feet--Christopher's Place team. Nothing new at this point, but I had to be there by 5:30, ran 4 miles, was home by just past 6:30, out the door by 6:35, and had my 15 year old to the dentist in time for his 7 AM appointment. There are many reasons I like running with Back on My Feet, and one is clearly the group aspect of the activity. I enjoy meeting other people. I enjoy talking to and listening to others on our runs. And, while I may only be in conversation with one or two at a time rathe than being part of a grope of 5-7 and in a bigger conversation, on any one day I can talk to a whole bunch of different people. This morning, I had brief conversations with at least a half-dozen different people between the time I arrived, the time of gathering, and the time of running. I'll go back and forth between different runners in the group to have conversations. And, I'll talk about anything ranging from music (particularly as it relates to worship), to cooking, to the Orioles, to how busy everyone is, and just about anything else under the sun. The time of gathering is another good example of where a person an drawn strength from a group. We circle up, have announcements, and join in the Serenity Prayer.
I don't want to go out of my way to take a formal Myers-Briggs any time soon again, but it is interesting to ponder how running has affected my personality. I think it is a positive change. Not that there was anything wrong with being an I rather than an E for the past forty-one years. Just interesting to see how shifting toward E in the future will lead to new opportunities, different choices, and new open doors that I might not even have explored in the past.