I’ve got a secret and I can’t explain

First, apologies for the OMD reference. One of my guilty little pleasures on Sunday is to fire up the laptop and take a few minutes to read PostSecret. Over the years, Frank’s staggering art project has made me think, feel every emotion, and wonder what my secret from the world would be, were I to send one in.

The truth is that I have no true “no one in the world knows this about me” secrets.  A handful of people out there know at least one or two things about me that most others don’t, but no one person knows all.

That said, there are a few truths that are normally surprising when I reveal them.

1. I’m an extrovert (kind of). 

You know the Myers-Briggs personality test? I’ve taken various forms of it, several times, and without fail the final three letters that, according to the results make up my personality type, are NFP. Always. The first letter varies, however. Sometimes it’s I and sometimes it’s E. It would seem that I am perfectly balanced between introversion and extroversion.

Most people who get to know me eventually make a correct assumption: I am painfully – painfully – shy. Once they learn more about who I actually am, they’re confused. Some of my hobbies, past and present, include theater and karaoke, and, as a friend pointed out a few weeks ago, I do public speaking for fun.

Shyness and extroversion aren’t mutually exclusive, as it turns out; in fact, the description of a person who “A person who performs well socially, but experiences painful thoughts and feelings” made my breath catch when I first read it. Having this type of personality is most definitely not easy (in jr high I was labeled “stuck up” and one of my closest friends told me a few years ago that she thought back in high school I wouldn’t befriend her). Neither is having more “introverted” days, particularly when you’re called upon to communicate with others or take on a leadership role. I wonder if anyone truly fits into a particular box when it comes to personality type. I recently learned a a great new word: ambivert. That seems to be an apt description of my personality – sometimes outgoing, sometimes more retiring.

2. I’m competitive.

A particular quirk – and annoyance – about being both a woman and a mom is that people seem to assume you have no ambition. They also seem to believe you’re a pushover, easy to overpower, easy to beat, etc. Most people haven’t met me.

I remember playing Wii Sports at a friend/coworker’s house and she and I were the only two women there (we do work in a male-dominated field, so this was only natural). Everyone was taking turns at sword fighting and I was put up against one of the managers – a guy around my age who is a sports fanatic and who just assumed he would wipe the floor with me.

To be fair, I am not a petite little thing. I’m 5’8″ when barefoot and have a little bit of upper body strength. But because I live in stilettos and am not naturally athletic, most guys naturally figure I’d be more concerned with breaking a nail than with winning. Again, most guys would be incorrect.

E and I began swinging our wiimotes furiously and at first he seemed to have victory in the bag. But I was just slightly faster and beat his ass, knocking his Mii straight off a cliff into the ocean below.

E took it like a man, groaning loudly before chuckling and turning to the other guys with a “No WAY!! That must’ve been beginners’ luck… or, uh, something.” Then, to me, “Rematch!” I beat him twice more before he eventually won a match.

I behave similarly during other competitions as well… including, but not limited to: Balderdash, Anomia, Apples to Apples, Trivial Pursuit, Rock Band, Just Dance, Tic-Tac-Toe, and The 20 Minute Challenge. And any and all “let’s see who can design the best page/graphic/whatever” work comes up with. And I have a collection of first place ribbons from Toastmasters.

3. I worry a LOT.

I’m usually pretty good in a crisis. In my life, I’ve had to make a couple of 911 calls, have been through trials ranging from earthquakes to system outages and normally don’t lose my head. This has occasionally been to my detriment, as I’ve had more than one person argue with me that I’m “too calm” and said persons have been known to take offense when I wasn’t reacting in the same fashion.

This is just how I am though. Never in my life have I had blood pressure higher than 120/70 (and that was while sitting at the doctor’s office under a time crunch to get back to work), and only a handful of times have I shown any of the other physical signs of distress: rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation, lightheadedness.

This is not to say I am “easygoing”. I lay awake at night a lot. I do tons of research on things that are on my mind. I send needy texts and emails to my girlfriends or call my mom. I’ve locked myself in rooms to cry or otherwise come unglued and then gotten straight back to business once I’m pulled together.

Some folks have to get their anger out so they can; I have to get my worry out so I can do the same. Because a lot of this happens in private (my relatives and friends generally don’t just call me to ask if I’m OK), I get it out of my system and no one’s the wiser.

So there you have it: a peek into what makes me tick. What are some of your non-secret secrets?