My daddy was an absolute extrovert. The more people he could interact with in a day, the better. He had a great sense of humor, and loved a good joke better than anybody I've ever known. When as an adult I would give him some kind of prank gift, like the battery-operated cat in a tow-sack, it was a given that by the end of the week, half the people in town would have seen it - whether they wanted to or not. He would re-tell a joke and laugh just as hard and sincerely the 15th time he told it as the first time he heard it.
Like many extroverts, without really meaning to be insensitive, Daddy assumed that everyone else had the same level of social energy, or that they should. Daddy expected me to be an extrovert, so I learned to act like an extrovert. And I did it well. Except for people who have met me in the past few years, I'm pretty sure no one would ever have thought of me as an introvert, myself included.
As I have become aware of the real definition of introversion and seen myself through that lens, I have been unable to avoid some pretty mind-bending, and in many ways healing, facts about my life. Extroversion/Introversion is all about the source of your energy. As an introvert, I recharge in my time alone or with very close friends. Unstructured social situations totally drain my batteries. I can do them; thanks largely to my desire to meet my daddy's expectations, I acquired the skills. But it leaves me exhausted.
Throughout my life, I have appeared to be an extrovert, and I am just now making connections as to what that has cost over the years. I have struggled periodically throughout my adult life with depression, sometimes needing medication to stay functional. I wonder how much of that I could have avoided if I had known, and those around me had respected, my need for intervals of alone and quiet to meet the needs of my introverted heart. If I had realized that retreating on a regular basis to fill my tank was a good thing in living out God's calling on my life, not something to feel guilty about.
I am not about a life of what-ifs, but I do think once we see error in our lives, we should move forward in a different manner. I am still pondering much about the ideas Adam McHugh presents his wonderful book, Introverts in the Church, and I feel sure God still has much to teach me, but I am beginning to see ways of creating a healthier balance between living a life of service and honoring the introverted self that God created me to be.