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Introvert or Extrovert?

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 introvertwhat 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.

The thing is, it seems that fitting predominantly into one or the other category is less about whether you’re shy or outgoing (though 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.

Any time I’ve had to do personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I always get mixed results on the introvert vs. extrovert questions. The questions, to me, always seem skewed to the “shy = introvert and outgoing = extrovert” paradigm, and my answers rarely fit into a neat little ticky box.

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 quite shy and quiet in large groups now), 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 suppose I don’t really need a definition… 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 just something I find curious. Plus, I like to question assumptions. 🙂

Would you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert? Why?

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.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Elaine February 14, 2012

    As you already know, I’m an introvert. I’m not a fan of large crowds. Not because I’m shy but because I feel like my switch is “On”. My batteries get drained quickly when the switch is on. I spend a lot of time alone and I find it very relaxing. I still go out but it’s nice to be alone after it.

  • a.eye February 14, 2012

    I was told by a person over the summer what being an introvert is and it really made me understand myself better. It really isn’t about being shy (which I can be sometimes). I am a teacher, so can present to small or large crowds. But I really feed off of alone time to recharge many times.
    a.eye recently posted… Text reminder of sharing the loveMy Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 15, 2012

      I think a lot of people assume that introvert = shy, when it doesn’t (necessarily)!

      What you said about understanding yourself better is why I really like this sort of thing. 🙂
      Dawn recently posted… Introvert or Extrovert?My Profile

  • Becky February 15, 2012

    Definitely an introvert. Like your other commenters, I can function quite well in crowds and can give talks, lead groups, teach, etc. But I do feel like I have to be “on” with others, and dealing with all the energy plus keeping my energy level high wipes me out.

    I need prolonged periods of alone time to recharge and feel balanced.
    Becky recently posted… Legacy Writing 365:45My Profile

    • Dawn
      Twitter:
      February 15, 2012

      I wish I was more comfortable in large groups, but unless I know the people well, the shyness kicks in and I get really, really quiet. But I WANT to be involved! It’s very frustrating. I’m beginning to think non-shy introvert is the way to be!
      Dawn recently posted… Introvert or Extrovert?My Profile

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