≡ Menu

Introvert or Extrovert – What’s YOUR perspective?

When you hear a person described as being an extrovert, what’s the first characteristic that comes to your mind? What about when you try to picture an introvert – what do you think that person would be like?

If your initial response was to think “outgoing” when you pictured the extrovert and “shy” when you thought of the introvert, I’m willing to bet you’re in the majority.

I’m not convinced that’s really the case, though.

I believe that fitting predominantly into one or the other category is less about whether you’re shy or outgoing (though it seems that those characteristics often do fall in line with expectations) and more to do with where you get your energy, or how you recharge yourself. The thinking, I understand, is that an extrovert gets their energy from being around other people, whereas being around people for too long actually drains energy from the introvert, and they need to recharge by spending time alone.


So what about me? Introvert or extrovert?

I struggle with defining myself in this area. Most of my life I assumed that because I was shy (painfully shy as a child, and still somewhat shy and quiet in large groups), I was an introvert, and the people I knew who were outgoing must be extroverts. I really never questioned it, until I got older and grew a little more self-aware and realized that perhaps my shyness was masking my true self. I really don’t enjoy spending large chunks of time alone, and I tend to feel most energized when I’ve had a lot of quality time around other people. To further complicate my thinking, I’ve also met several people who are tremendously outgoing – the life of the party, often – who can only last so long before they need to get away, be by themselves, and recharge.


I’ve noticed that the better I get to know someone, the more my level of shyness with them decreases until it’s nearly nonexistent. The same sort of thing happens to my degree of shyness in relation to how I’m feeling about myself at a particular time – I’m actually fairly outgoing when I’m feeling good about myself, and much, much quieter when I’m self-conscious or insecure. (Thankfully, the older I get, the less I seem to care about what people think… so the self-conscious and insecure times seem to be decreasing!)

Any time I’ve had to do personality tests (such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), it seems to me that the questions are skewed to the “shy = introvert and outgoing = extrovert” paradigm. My answers in this area rarely fit into a neat little ticky box, and so I always end up with mixed results on the introvert vs. extrovert questions.

So the jury is still out.

I suppose I don’t really need a definition, though “shy extrovert” seems to come the closest to explaining who I am. After all, perhaps it’s like so many other things in life, and rather than fitting neatly into one or the other category, some people fall somewhere along a spectrum. Maybe we tend more one way or another at different times in our lives, or in different circumstances. Who knows? It’s certainly something I find curious… and I’m always up for questioning assumptions!

What do you think?
Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? Why?
Please share!

(Originally posted in part in March, 2012.)

NaBloPoMo February 2014

Laurel Storey, CZT – Certified Zentangle Teacher. Writer, reader, tangler, iPhoneographer, cat herder, learner of French and Italian, crocheter, needle felter, on-and-off politics junkie, 80s music trivia freak, ongoing work in progress.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Travels with Tam February 3, 2014

    Hey Laurel. I am a Certified Practitioner of the MBTI. Jung’s theory tells us we are born with a preference, but you have to remember that in the MB/Jungian theory, being introverted has more to do with where you get your energy from than how you behave socially. I’m an introvert, but most people would probably be surprised by that. Being with people too much is tiring, I need some down time (alone time) to recharge. Also, if you write your feelings better than talking about them, you are probably an introvert. Extroverts get their energy from the outside world. But those two indicators are really the base of what being introverted is. It really depends on the psychological theory you are looking at: are you looking at measuring traits? The MBTI does not measure personality traits, it simply shows where your natural, inborn preference is.
    Travels with Tam recently posted… A New JourneyMy Profile

    • Laurel Regan
      February 4, 2014

      Interesting info – thank you very much! I am guessing that I’m about half and half… because I find being with people energizing and too much time alone tiring, yet I’d say that I write my feelings better than talking about them!
      Laurel Regan recently posted… Today’s Gratitude List – Linkup No. 15My Profile

      • Travels with Tam February 4, 2014

        Think back to when you were growing up. What was your inclination at that time? In Jung’s theory, you have one true natural inclination, but as we grow older, we naturally access our other functions due to experience, growth, etc. Would you rather play or go on a date or stay home and read? The theory behind the test is that we are all born with a natural preference, but that preference can be hidden below environment, parental expectations, etc. Have you ever looked at the Keirsey temperament types? They correspond to the 16 personality types of the Myers Briggs.
        Travels with Tam recently posted… A New JourneyMy Profile

        • Laurel Regan
          February 5, 2014

          Interesting – as a child I always stayed out playing with friends until the last possible moment, and then later in my teen years was always the one who organized group events. Even though I was shy, I’ve always preferred being with people over being by myself. I haven’t seen the Keirsey temperament types – will have to look at them!
          Laurel Regan recently posted… A Series of Unfortunate (Cat-Related) EventsMy Profile

  • Fiona Maclean February 3, 2014

    Personally I think introverts quite often over compensate and appear extrovert.
    Fiona Maclean recently posted… Just-Eat – Naked NoshMy Profile

  • pia February 3, 2014

    I love “shy extrovert”
    pia recently posted… Shortchanging MeMy Profile

  • Lynda Lippin
    February 3, 2014

    I was painfully shy as a young girl, but by high school I was teaching others and public speaking. That serves me well now!
    Lynda Lippin recently posted… Practicing PilatesMy Profile

  • Sierra
    February 3, 2014

    I while ago, I “appeared” as an extrovert because I was always around people, hated being alone, when in reality I am a very shy person and do feel drained after being around a large group of people.
    Sierra recently posted… Situational EnvironmentMy Profile

  • Prof. B.T. Mienoré
    February 3, 2014

    My hubby and co-author is an extreme introvert, and while I was also a shy kid, I came out of my shell in high school and college.
    Prof. B.T. Mienoré recently posted… T-Shirts for Zombie Killing StonersMy Profile

  • Alana(
    February 3, 2014

    I am able to act like an extrovert online, without shyness, but in non virtual life I am actually quite shy, feel comfortable in small groups (I’m drained even in a large group of people I like to be with) and must, must, must spend some “alone” time to recharge.
    Alana( recently posted… Back on the RollercoasterMy Profile

  • Beth Hewitt February 3, 2014

    Hi Laurel,

    Great post, every time I do a myers briggs test. I am always literlly 49%/51% introvert/extrovert.

    Whilst on the surface and at first glance you’d probably describe me as an introvert. I do have many extroverted traits. The thing is, I tend to only be extroverted when I am in my own space, when I have something to share or when I have some of value to provide.

    I don’t speak for any old reason. So the jury is still out on me as well.

    But I am happy being a difficult human to fathom lol

    Beth Hewitt recently posted… Wordfence ReviewMy Profile

  • Barbara February 3, 2014

    It’s so easy to pigeon hole, isn’t it? I enjoy public speaking, have been a high school teacher, tour guide, etc., but I really, really don’t enjoy large groups of people. I communicate better in writing, I think, than speaking – and I come from a family of very, very, chatty, sales type people (siblings are realtors) – except my Dad, who was an engineer, gardener and loved the open road. Much like me. Do we inherit some of our traits? Are we born with them? The questions could go around and around. Great food for thought.
    Barbara recently posted… Open a New DoorMy Profile

  • Diane
    February 4, 2014

    Hmmm . . . tough call. I like being around people. But I do need to get away after a while to recharge. I guess I’m more comfortable on my own. With my keyboard in front of me . . .
    Diane recently posted… Orange You Glad to See Her?My Profile

  • dpowersfabianD February 5, 2014

    The RIGHT people…and a FEW people are energizing…otherwise they drain me dry! And I am not shy at all…but please don’t put me in the limelight.

  • Gwen February 5, 2014

    Have you read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain? My book club read it a few months ago and it is a very interesting read. She talks about how people recharge just they way you talk about it. I certainly need quiet to recharge. Thank goodness I’m married to a man who recharges the same way.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: