Friday, December 18, 2009

The Quest to Become a Social-ista

No, not as in an ideology or political orientation. Lord knows that my time in Mozambique moved me firmly to the capitalist side of the equation. No quiero ser socialista, I want to be a Social-ista - as in a Fashion-ista - but instead of being a devotee of the latest designer collections and accessories, my quest is to interact with friends, friends-to-be and all of the other people who come across my path inbetween.

You see, I am an "ambivert". I first heard this term on the personality and style questionnaire developed by Wardrobe 911 as part of their style consult (a very fun experience, by the way). It means a person who is primarily introverted by nature, but who can be extroverted in inspired little bursts or simply when the situation calls for it. What a welcome relief, after all these years debating whether I am the 'E' or the 'I' in the Myers-Briggs test, to find there is a third category, an intermediate term that validates what I've known about myself all along. (I am either an ENFP or INFP depending on the day.) There are few things I love more than to be alone with a cat in my lap and some solitary hobby with which to occupy myself, but on occasion I can be the unabashed life of the party.

Being an ambivert is great, but if I'm not careful I can slip nearly 100% into the introvert category and spend all day at home, every day, day after day. It's super easy for me to just hang out with Rico and the cats (and my Mom now that we are in Cali), ignore my phone calls and emails, and isolate myself from the rest of the world to the point that when the opportunity to go out and be social presents itself, I find it completely daunting and honestly unappealing. I love my own company, but there is a point where I nest into a cycle of isolation that, in the long run, I know isn't ideal.

I do not want to become a person who is house-bound by choice at age 30. I don't want to get into the rountine of living a limited life here in California just because it feels comfortable and is easy. The period right after a move is so critical because it establishes many of the habits and patterns you will have for that chapter in your life. I really want to approach this Casa Cali life with awareness and an open mind. I want to push my boundaries and learn new things. I wan to explore this great area with Rico and find people, places and things that we really enjoy. Part of what makes this difficult is that we have such a fabulous home and love each other's company so much that we don't feel particularly dissatisfied just hanging out at Casa Cali.

I know that having friends and a life outside my mind and my home is important, healthy (and fun!), but I'm at the point where I have to remind myself of that fact in order to branch out a bit. I want to meet friends in the city, go out for drinks, go dancing, go see live music, go to museums, go to the park, participate in art shows, see the redwoods and the beaches. All of these things and more are within reach. It's just a matter of doing them...

Thus the somewhat early resolution for 2010 to become a social-ista. I want to seek out the few friends I have here in the Bay Area and cultivate those friendships, even if it seems like an extraordinary hurdle to leave the house, get on BART and interact with other people. Just yesterday I met two friends in the Mission for ice cream and coffee. We walked around, chatted about life and business, got caught up on the 3 years or so it's been since we last saw each other. It was incredibly nice to be with them, and to venture out on my own for an afternoon. Although part of me wanted to call and cancel the morning prior to our outing (I'd already schemed a list of plausible excuses to reschedule), I'm really glad I didn't. I had a great time, and hope we can do it again soon.

So here's to being a Social-ista in 2010, to getting back to my ambivert roots and throwing off the cloak of (temporary) total introversion. School will help, I'm sure, but I also don't want it to be a substitute for getting out there on my own, or with Rico, for no reason at all but to explore and be social.


nola said...

Ambivert - I like it! Also totally me.

Good post. I'm really struggling now with any social activities at all ... between studying for another bar exam and struggling financially, I don't feel very social at all and I learned that if you blow people off enough times they eventually stop trying. Awesome. And I know that I just need to pick up the phone or just show up, but that's too much effort.

It's almost a problem sometimes, to like my own company. Oh well. This too shall pass.

Good luck in your quest!

Ali la Loca said...

~Nola - I loved discovering that word, too. I totally understand the challenge of picking up the phone and just showing up to meet difficult some days, but definitely worth the effort. I'll remind you if you remind me!

Claudia said...

My darling fellow ENFP (sometimes 'I') I feel you girl... I feel guilty being a homebody and am constantly made aware of this by others - but like you, I love it... I also feel guilty leaving my cats at home all day alone and finding the balance is never easy.

You were a huge inspiration to us to do exactly that and we keep re-evaluating our progress and like you, we'll get there :) 2010 is yet to be defined and I believe it will be a monumental year however you choose to spend it - curled up com gatos, Rico, vinho and Law and Order; or living in revelry (ergh hmm... burning man!!)

So heres to the quest for acceptable levels of social/hermit status of 2010 xoxo love ya x

Ali la Loca said...

~Claudia - OMG, I had no idea you are also an ENFP!!!! Of course you are. Of course I am. It makes so much sense. :)

I heard from a friend that Burning Man tickets go on sale Jan 31st. I can't wait to have that adventure with you guys and to host you here in Casa Cali for a few days.

I'm glad we inspired you to get out and about in Maputo. Believe me, it was not always easy for me. Just go back and read my entries around July/Aug 2006 and you will have an idea of my hermit-ness at its worst. But I got out there, and I know you guys are doing the same.

Miss you so much. Please email me your phone number as I can't seem to find it!! beijos.

Brandie said...

Great post. I'm such a complete homebody, especially in winter, that I do have to remind myself to get out and just hang out. The first few months in DC were brutal but I eventually found a good balance. I've never been one to have a TON of friends (I think relationship require time and energy to sustain and since i only have a limited resource of both, i prefer to spend it on a few quality people than on everyone and their mother), but I've slowly expanded my little pool. Yet, I still manage to fit in enough homebody time where the needs of that side of my personality is also met.

All that side....i still need to get out a little more...thanks for the reminder and that it can indeed be a whole lot of fun.

Ali la Loca said...

~Brandie - I'm also definitely of the quality not quantity philosophy when it comes to friendships and interacting with people in general. I find it exhausting to do small-talk, and am glad to hang out with people with whom I don't feel the need to be "on". Good luck continuing to get out there in DC - we're both lucky to live in cities where there are plentiful opportunities for being social!