I love the idea of parties . . . for me, an idealistic picture of inhibitions and daily stresses purged as a mass of beautiful humanity writhes together in collective bliss.
But I don’t do too well at actual parties, at least not indefinitely.
Years back, headed to a particular holiday function at work, I’m sure my demeanor could only have been described as giddy (if not outright chirpy), even droll.
I just remember so looking forward to amazing food and a few hours free from the usual fix of files, phones, and screens.
Crammed in that car with co-workers I’d known for decades, we joked and giggled about all sorts of silly things as our driver, whom we’ll call Jolie, regaled us with story after zany story from her life.
It was perfect.
We arrived at the venue to be met by a sea of semi-familiar faces, some of which smiled wide while others were careful to avoid eye-contact.
Bosses on every level schmoozed.
We found our way to a free table at the back where I was glad to continue our happy banter from the car.
But Jolie soon leapt from her place in our group, and proceeded to flitter from cluster to cluster of the well-dressed almost-strangers all around, making at least some from each new bunch chuckle a little before moving on.
Tables were released to the buffet, which was indeed spectacular.
Eating gave way to coffee and more fun chatter with old friends.
Then the “games” began.
First was an ice-breaker where table groups were mixed and matched, and our new forced teams were given a set of altogether meaningless instructions to follow: Put a keychain in someone’s glasses case or wallet, tie it with a shoelace from the oldest team member’s shoes, and select a runner to transport everything to a big box up front while blindfolded.
The last team to finish was disqualified from moving on to the next of many such games.
All the while, Jolie could be heard tables away still loudly recounting her comical tales.
95 minutes elapsed before ultimate winners were declared and rewarded with $10 gift cards.
Then came a slew of slow appreciation speeches that spanned at least another 90 minutes.
Boss after boss stepped forward in turn to esteem their departments before the crowd.
Of course we could hardly hear anything through the tinny PA and speakers; but we caught the basic gist, and clapped until our hands hurt as an endless wash of celebrated individuals filed up for a handshake with the CEO.
With every passing minute, I found myself feeling a little more on edge and droopy.
To combat my general malaise, I downed 2-3 more cups of coffee, and inhaled platter after platter of desserts.
I began to feel plagued by such thoughts as: What’s going to happen now? Why are we even doing this? It all seems so inefficient. What’s the point?
When at last the festivities ended, the hordes stood to mostly line the walls and hallways, making it impossible to pass through without acknowledging to ourselves each mutual decision not to acknowledge one another.
As our little tribe finally collapsed back into Jolie’s car and sped off, I felt irritated, sleepy, anxious . . . and most of all DRAINED!
But you should have seen and heard Jolie as she pinballed us back to the office to finish out our workday. If on the way to the event she’d been boisterous and entertaining, she was now utterly loopy and insatiable, all but screaming with heightened delight and glee as I and others stared in silence out the windows.
The thing is: I bet Jolie would have described that same outing very differently, saying something closer to, “Well, it was a little dull at first, but then we got there and everyone was just so amazing I couldn’t keep it in!”
Extrovert or Introvert?
Many would incorrectly call Jolie an extrovert and me an introvert.
In truth, there are no extroverts or introverts.
No one is one or the other, for the terms refer not to the sum of one’s person or being, but to the direction their most prominent personality traits are pointed.
We’ve looked at how extroverted (outward-directed) traits are focused on and energized by the outside world in seeing possibility, measuring tactics, optimizing sensation, or connecting with others.
Introverted traits, on the other hand, are directed and driven toward a private, inward world of subjective sensation, unconscious awareness, or independent appraisals of facts or values.
To an observer, extraverted traits appear assertive and expressive, drawing attention to themselves.
Introverted traits come across as subtle, lowkey, and disengaged.
The reason no one is either an extrovert or introvert is because no one has or shows just a single personality trait.
It’s extremely limiting to reduce a person even to only what they are most.
Yet as we’ve seen, the part of you that searches for exactly who you should be is looking for the simplest possible blueprint to follow forever without ever turning back.
That’s because you want to make the best use of your life and time.
So there is perhaps nothing so frustrating as feverishly bouncing between options for viable lives as the waning appeal of one potential future gets swallowed up into idealistic notions of the next, and so on…
Home and Calling
How much of yourself can you really know?
Could you predict exactly how and when each of your traits, qualities, and values should come into play in balance amongst the rest?
Your search for a liveable “self” obviously requires at least some simplification and guesswork.
But to avoid the perils of reducing yourself to just whichever compelling quality you might be focused on right now, understand that there will always be 2 parts to what you are—2 broad and underlying categories for all your various attributes to map to.
Let’s call the first part your dominant “home,” the basis of what you really are.
The personality traits that make up your home comprise your core foundation and comfort zone. They’re always there for you to return to and build from whenever you (re)appreciate their value; but a major component of self-acceptance and growth is learning never to take your home traits for granted.
On their own, your home traits don’t really force you to stretch or grow that much because they’re what comes most naturally to you.
The other part of what you are is your aspirational “calling.”
Your calling traits represent your purpose and motivation in life. They could be likened to a distant paradise enticing you to step away from the easy and secure.
If your home is what you are, then your calling is where you feel led to take what you are so you can make the most of your skills and experience in the limited time you have.
Your calling is never meant to replace or contradict your home (even if you tend to get more excited about your calling); instead, your calling is there to hone and provide new and better avenues for expansion and application.
If you ever find yourself stuck unable to choose between attractive potential identities, remember: You are both your home and calling . . . always.
Any inkling of “one or the other” is a lie.
To illustrate the relationship between home and calling, let’s look at a few examples of fictional superheroes.
Take Bruce Wayne, whose dominant core and comfort zone seems centered around the personality trait we’ve called conscientious inward (introverted) sensing.
Inward sensing entails a natural understanding of how to consistently and conservatively stabilize the present in order to achieve a secure, reliable future.
But what if after the murder of his parents, Bruce had stayed alone forever in Wayne Manor carefully maintaining his inheritance instead of stepping out to pursue the training and connections needed to eventually become Batman and fight crime nightly?
Bruce’s aspirational calling revolves around the trait we’ve labelled outward (extroverted) thinking, which drives him to stretch and study so he can fortify his natural awareness and resources in order to achieve measurable results in the outside world.
Without an outlet for his inner core, Bruce might have led a comfortable though ultimately aimless life.
Another example is Kal-El, an alien being who receives otherworldly insight via his arctic Fortress of Solitude.
Supernatural visions and revelation map archetypically in stories to the trait we’ve identified as inward (introverted) intuition, which serves as the base of Kal-El’s dominant home and core.
Kal-El’s calling, however . . . ingrained and ignited by his stepparents while being raised on their farm as Clark Kent . . . is to help others in need. This driving motivation points to the trait we’ve referred to as outward (extroverted) feeling.
So, what if fear of being misunderstood due to his alien origins and unrivalled power had kept Kal-El from ever stepping out in uncertainty to intervene directly in anyone’s life?
He might have still used his fortress wisdom to defeat superhuman enemies and save the world; but to forsake his calling would have meant never fulfilling a higher destiny to unite fragmented civilizations by forging and exemplifying an all new hope.
On the other end of the spectrum is Tony Stark, a charismatic, brash, and brilliant business magnate and scientist. These attributes ground Tony’s dominant core to the trait, outward (extroverted) thinking.
Imagine if Tony had never been forced through isolation and threat of death to look within and intuitively piece together a whole new world of possibility via unprecedented technology to save himself and turn him into a superhero.
Tony’s calling, primarily inward (introverted) intuition, serves as a guiding light to direct his naturally extroverted approach.
Maybe like Bruce and Kal-El, your home and comfort zone is your independent, internal awareness and understanding of meaning, truth, or beauty.
The shortcoming of introverted personality traits is they can serve little external purpose if you never stretch to receive outside input and find effective outward avenues for implementation and expression.
Conversely, the core of what you are might be extroverted (like Tony), say in interacting with others or harnessing what resources you have at your disposal.
If so, taking the time to stop and appraise your life and the world internally might feel utterly daunting and unnatural; but I’d be willing to bet on some level you already have an unshakable sense that to forever avoid looking within is a surefire path to one day realizing you’ve strayed somehow from your own deepest values and insights—that you’ve applied yourself and your energies toward outcomes you don’t even really much care about or believe in.
Remaining true to your core home while taking steps to follow your calling motivation blends the known with the unknown in a delicate balance that results in you living more and more as your best and most authentic self.
But that journey plays out a little differently depending on the direction your home and calling traits are pointed.
Introverted Home/Extroverted Calling: Accept Yourself
If the core of what you are is directed within, then your most difficult lesson in life (to learn over and over on new levels) is self-acceptance.
In fact, living with dominant introverted traits means you’ve probably felt pressured since childhood to change and “be more of an extrovert.”
That’s because you were brought up in a world with systems set in place to help prepare you for success in industries and other established hierarchies where extroverted traits are known to thrive.
Introverted traits, on the other hand, highlight independent perspectives tinged by individuality and context.
As science blogger and editor, Anna LeMind, writes,
Society is constantly trying to impose certain thinking patterns on us, as well as to promote certain lifestyles and behaviors. Pop culture and mass media do everything to prevent people from critical thinking and expressing their uniqueness in any way. Those who don’t conform are often considered odd and even dangerous.
Both school and advertising have trained you from a young age to excel at following instructions and abiding by norms.
The promise is that you can then later be chosen for top positions in organizations where you’re given authority to make sure others do what they’re told.
Marketing expert and author, Larry Kim, writes,
Twentieth-century Americans were bottle-fed on the importance of needing to prove themselves. Extroverts, with their brash and gregarious manner, were the golden children. Loud, proud, and ready to get things done, it was their time to shine.
But the world is changing, not that the extrovert’s “time to shine” is over . . . and certainly not that there’s anything wrong with having extroverted home traits, or with seeking success in industries and hierarchies.
It’s just that today there are plenty of opportunities for those whose home traits are introverted to own the core of what they are in such a way that their particular values also get brought to life somewhere real in the world.
Journalist, Andrea Fisher, says,
Our time spent online fuels us with tons of accessible information—and ways to spread our ideas to the masses. In turn, the 21st century has become the time for the online extraverts.
I believe Fisher is saying those whose home traits are introverted now have avenues by which to effectively step out, expand, and apply their inward-focused awareness or reasoning—in other words, to follow their extroverted calling—without having to pretend to be something they’re not for the sake of finding approval from authority figures.
Because I care a lot about helping people, I’ve often felt as though I’m supposed to be this outgoing cheerleader type who can brighten any room with my bubbliness and grin.
But adopting the sunny wardrobe, incessant chattiness, and magnanimous smile (at all costs) in order to radiate constant joy ironically keeps me from ever doing any real good for anyone.
There have been times when I’ve collapsed out of exhaustion in shame and either pent-up resentment or self-loathing for failing to perfectly occupy that extroverted mold which I have trouble not believing is the only acceptable one for me.
Like many whose core traits are introverted, I’ve confused my calling for my home—I’ve felt my calling should be what I am instead of where I want what I am to be headed.
Whenever I fall into that trap, my calling becomes a tiring false persona instead of an inspiring guiding force.
I basically become Kal-El swearing off my alien powers and perspective in mad-dash attempts at saving the world solely through Clark Kent’s easygoing, agreeable schtick.
But hidden untapped beneath my imposed compulsion to play the nice-guy hero is a source of power and value I have to keep learning not to ignore or take for granted: my home comfort zone introverted world of vision for perceived possibility.
In order to fulfill my motivational calling to benefit others, I must afford myself the time and space needed to notice, capture, and prepare my inward daydream visions for delivery.
Otherwise I’m just acting like a helper.
Extroverted Home/Introverted Calling: Hear Yourself
Again, if the core of what you are is introverted, your first and ongoing mission in life is learning to accept yourself.
But if your home and comfort zone is directed without, then your biggest lesson is the importance of slowing down and detaching from what’s going on around you enough to really hear yourself.
Let’s return to Jolie for a moment.
Very much unlike me, Jolie naturally comes to life in her surroundings and environment. She can enter any situation and simultaneously work every detail of the immediate to her advantage.
That’s who she is.
But get anywhere close to her actual feelings or individual interpretation of values, and it’s like watching a sports team’s defensive line lock sharply and reflexively into play.
To avoid the discomfort of looking within, Jolie jumps back and forth between fun excitement (her dominant home trait, outward sensing) and hard-nosed, bottom-line thinking (another, lesser home trait for her, outward thinking).
Jolie is celebrated at work for the value those two extroverted components of her personality provide.
But what does Jolie really want?
What does she think is best or most important?
What are her next steps for growth?
Where does she want to find herself in 20 years?
To forsake the space needed for such questions to be duly pondered is to double-down in an extraverted comfort zone in order to block out the inconvenient voice of an introverted calling.
Seeing Both Parts at Once
I could tell you story after story from my own life and the lives of others, but the fundamental patterns are the same.
That makes them recognizable.
And recognizing is really what’s key, because the goal here is perspective.
Identify only with your core home, and you keep yourself from acknowledging and taking your own difficult yet necessary next steps for growth.
Identify only with your calling, and you find yourself stuck perpetually wearing a draining Halloween mask.
Every compelling quality you might feel drawn to build a workable identity around can be tied back to either your home or calling.
Again, resist the urge to reduce yourself to either one or the other. All such notions are a short-sighted lie.
You are your home guided by your calling, and both must work together so you can live more and more as your best and truest self.
Next time, we’ll take a few steps back from home and calling to see how all your different aspects, qualities, and traits represent sets of various evolving values, each of which wants to claim full use of your life to face resistance and exist more in the world.
Fisher, Andrea. “How Digital Technology Is Creating a World of Introverts.” Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology, 3 July 2013,
Kim, Larry. “7 Reasons Introverts Now Rule the World.” Inc.com, 5 Aug. 2014, www.inc.com/larry-kim/why-introverts-now-rule-the-world.html.
LeMind, Anna. “Why Being an Introvert in Modern Society Is a Gift.” Learning Mind, 5 Mar. 2017, www.learning-mind.com/why-being-an-introvert-in-modern-society-is-a-gift/.