I am riffing on extroversion and introversion a bit this week . . . and maybe always will, every once in a while. I will build a new category for it, for those who are interested in the topic. And in this post, I will make the definitive phrases bold.
To rehearse the main difference between extroverts and introverts: it is in the way they “recharge” their mental batteries. Extroverts recharge from being around other people; introverts recharge in their solitude.
A common misperception is that extroverts are able to talk to anyone while introverts cannot. While almost everyone would say that I am wildly extroverted because I can and do reach out to all kinds of people, truth is that the Myers-Briggs personality inventory had me as only slightly more extroverted than introverted. As much as I love to read and watch movies, I totally understand that!
As one friend joked with me, I am independent enough to do many things by myself (travel around in strange cities, for one) but I do love to “hook up” with fellow travelers for a few moments at a time to share the experience of, say, a beautiful art museum or the Reagan Presidential Library. And, truth be told, I pretty instinctively understood the process of how to do that correctly, too. A few words exchanged with other solitary travelers or even with families while standing in line at the cafeteria are good, while engaging someone in conversation while looking at a painting or standing at President Reagan’s grave is not. I treasure my solitude at such times.
Balance is always good!
An introvert will almost always have a small handful of very close-in friends, while an extrovert will be known for having a less deep relationship with a much wider circle of friends. The person who can and does talk to everyone is an extrovert. Extroverts have a gift for making people feel special in the moment. But once they are gone, they very easily move on to a new circle of people (because that is their gift). Again, I can relate to both of these friendship styles. And so can almost everyone else. It is rare that there is a pure introvert who sticks to the same three people all life long; it is also rare to find an extrovert without a best friend or two.
My best friend was my college roommate in my senior year (1980-81). We can go for months without communicating and pick up our conversation where we last left off . . .
On the other hand, I love the saying that everyone has a story and that history is built from weaving everyone’s story together. I love historical fiction written by shifting views between, say, Lady Jane Grey and her stablehand (“Raven Queen,” see my review earlier this year).
I love listening to people talk about their passions. The only people who don’t interest me much are those who go through life bored, waiting for someone else to entertain them, or even, God forbid, to define them.
Extroversion is not the same as ADD–having divergent interests going off in all directions. Introverts can do that, too, just more quietly! In fact, attention deficit may look like ADD (quiet distraction) in introverts and ADHD (restless, jumpy involuntary movements related to the feeling of a restless jumpy brain) in extroverts. That possibility has been brought up by researchers in the past, too.
If so, it would be another indication of introversion in me, for I spent my entire seventh grade year daydreaming and still pulling an “A” average . . .
These are some interesting points to consider but they most likely end with 98% of us determining that we are a combination of extrovert and introvert, with one style dominating.
If you want to know for sure, take the Myers-Briggs test. Try to take it with a group at work or somewhere, as it is rather expensive.
Interesting stuff, this.