Over the weekend, my parents came up to visit for Father’s Day…they managed to oversleep and miss church, but being the good saint that I am, I went to worship service anyway. I was actually already there when I discovered they weren’t going to make it! When I got back home, my parents had already arrived and were resting their eyes while waiting for me. As soon as I walked in, my Mom woke up and immediately began talking, almost non-stop, to me. While I love my mother to the moon and back, she was talking a bit too much for me in that moment, and I found myself retreating. Why…because I’m an introvert! Over time, I’ve discovered that after being socially engaged with lots of people, I need a few moments of quiet time to regroup and recharge mentally. I need time to quietly settle my thoughts and think through my game plan before I’m ready to go again. I’m a classic introvert…an extreme “nearly off the charts” introvert. It’s not that I’m antisocial, I love people, I just prefer to not be around large groups of socially engaged people all at once, it’s overwhelming and exhausting for me. I’d take being with a small group of friends enjoying dinner and a movie over going to the club or a large party any day of the week.
Unfortunately, far too often, people don’t fully understand what it means to be introverted or extroverted. Being an introvert is frequently confused with being shy, but that’s not the case at all. Our state of being, as it relates to being an introvert or extrovert, is a reflection of the place from which we draw our energy.
Extroversion is “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self”. Extroverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious. Extroverts are energized and thrive off of being around other people. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings, such as parties, community activities, public demonstrations, and business or political groups. An extroverted person is likely to enjoy time spent with people and find less reward in time spent alone. They tend to be energized when around other people, and they are more prone to boredom when they are by themselves.
This quality of being outgoing can be taken advantage of in situations such as at a workplace or social gathering. Teachers, politicians, salespersons and different types of management fields are all examples of work types that favour an individual who is considered to be an extrovert. They have the ability to act naturally with people in a way that will make them much more successful than an introvert because these are the types of the requirements of the job.
Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”. Some popular writers have characterized introverts as people whose energy tends to expand through reflection and dwindle during interaction.
The common modern perception is that introverts tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. The archetypal artist, writer, sculptor, engineer, composer and inventor are all highly introverted. An introvert is likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though he or she may enjoy interactions with close friends. Trust is usually an issue of significance. They prefer to concentrate on a single activity at a time and like to observe situations before they participate. They tend to analyze before speaking. Introverts are also easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement, and tend to have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating external environment.
I’m certain that I’ve been introverted all of my life…an INTP to be specific, but we never discussed things of this nature growing up. As children, my brother and me went to family functions and we spoke to everybody, and we answered seemingly endless questions, and we sat up properly in our chairs, etc. because that’s what we were expected to do…and I’m pretty sure I was often the cranky one. I just didn’t like to be around lots of people. This remains true even to this day…once I’ve reached my limit, I need to sneak away for some alone time. I’m pretty sure this is why I can only stand to be on vacation with large groups of people for 3-4 days max…I need that alone time that is often lacking in that setting. It’s kind of hard to go off to dinner alone when you’re away with a group of people, but that is something that I’ve learned I absolutely need to be my best me in such an environment.
For me, the exciting part about introversion and extroversion is that neither state of being is wrong, both are essential and both contain good elements. We need introverted people and we need extroverted people…the challenge is finding a way to mutually respect both states of being. I think in the past years my eyes have been opened in new ways and I can better appreciate both kinds of people.
Until next time…