Introvert Revelations – Part 2: I Want It, But I Can’t

Oh the internal struggle that perplexed me  until I discovered my personality. As a phlegmatic/sanguine blend I now understand the tug of war that has been my constant companion since I was a little girl. Its roots started with my introverted primary personality (phlegmatic), but were complicated with my extrovert blend (sanguine.)

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As a little girl and teen I always had SOME idea tumbling around in my head: you know, the typical girl stuff like boys, dating, dogs, and a few sports. However, I was never insistent about any of it.

  • For my 10th birthday I wanted a basketball hoop because I wanted to play just like my look alike cousin when I got to high school.. Well, I got the hoop, but it never was put up. I don’t know why, it just lay useless in our bike garage. Being phlegmatic, I was OK with that. Had I been sanguine, I would have pestered my parents until it was erected. Had I been choleric, I would have demanded they get it up (or I would have done it myself). If I had been melancholy, I would have sunk into a depression and guilted the folks into putting it up. But, alas, I was phlegmatic and despite wanting it, I let it go.
  • When I was 12 I wanted to play softball. My dad got me on a team, but I didn’t know anyone. Once again, my sanguine wanted to have fun on the diamond, but my phlegmatic was pained because I was a stranger on a team that all the girls were friends. I played “camouflage” by third base, but succumbed to the painful feelings of a self-imposed outcast.
  • When I entered high-school as a 14 year old, my fun-loving sanguine wanted to be accepted, popular, and date cute boys, but I, the phlegmatic introvert, just couldn’t bring myself to do the things that ushered in that acceptance and popularity. My sanguine sister showed me cheerleader moves, but  I was too embarrassed to do cheer-leading moves in front of the entire student body. Oh the battle that raged…my sanguine wanting IT so badly, but my phlegmatic was not able to comply.

I Want It, But I Don’t

Needless to say my high school years were uneventful. Nothing noteworthy. No homecoming or prom queen crowns. No boys salivating over my wonderful personality since that was reserved for the sanguine girls (with NO introvert blood) who were cute, bubbly, and naturally commanded (and received) attention. I wanted all those things, but I wasn’t comfortable flirting with boys or seeking the spotlight. I would not have suffered through the painful tug-of-war of  “want vs. can’t”  had I understood myself. My extrovert (sanguine) secondary personality yearned for fun and attention, but my introvert primary (phlegmatic) was content blending in and walking on the quiet side of teen life.

However, when I was in college I did something that shocked those who knew me well: I ran for homecoming queen at my college. One evening I was in my dorm room minding my own business when my boyfriend called. He was a resident assistant in the boys dorm, and they were looking for a girl to represent them in the homecoming queen contest. His fellow RAs asked him if I would consider a run. He didn’t think I’d do it, but he called me anyway. When one of the guys offered to be my campaign manager and hold my hand the WHOLE way. I said, “Yes.” Finally, my extrovert “WANT” finally received a “YES” from my introvert heart.

I won’t bore you with the details but I won!! But, I will say that when they announced my name, my introvert and extrovert started warring again. I did NOT want to take that walk across the stage and out onto a catwalk that stretched for MILES into the crowd. I was horrified! My phlegmatic feet were glued to the floor and, believe it or not, it wasn’t my sanguine streak that got me going . . . my escort dragged me into the spotlight and out among the  clapping hordes of people. It was such an uncomfortable moment, but finally my sanguine had her moment.

All these years later I still find myself more comfortable on the sidelines, but every once in a while that extroverted streak wants more. It’s no longer a struggle now that understanding personalities has provided the revelation that I am introvert with a splash of extrovert.  I no longer battle myself, but am happy to let circumstances determine what role I will assume. Whew, what a load off after so many years of feeling so unsettled. Can any of you relate? You want it, but you just can’t do it?

NOTE: for those of you who are a blend of both introverted personalities (phlegmatic and melancholy) you are probably spared the internal dueling that I experienced. Now if you are a blend of the melancholy/choleric (which is introvert/extrovert) I’m not sure you feel the struggle as much as those of the phlegmatic/sanguine blend. I’ve never BEEN that blend but I think the task oriented nature of both personalities blends well. Plus, even though the choleric personality is extroverted it isn’t as people and fun oriented as the sanguine extrovert. I could be wrong, but if you have some insights into that blend, I’d love to hear from you.

©2013 Shona Neff


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This entry was posted on Friday, May 31st, 2013 at 10:39 pm and is filed under Personalities - Did You Know?, Personalities: Two-Part series, Personality Stories - Phlegmatic, The Personalities - Let's Learn!, Word for the Day. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Introvert Revelations – Part 2: I Want It, But I Can’t”

  1. lm119 Says:

    Good post, I can relate! My secondary isn’t sanguine but tug of war still there.

  2. shona Says:

    Since we all tend to have a secondary personality, there is probably a little tug of war in all of us :)

    Thanks for stopping by :)


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