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.
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?