Are you an introvert or extrovert?
There is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about these two natural tendencies. Understanding the difference correctly can vastly improve one’s life, relationships and self-perception.
I know I have personally struggled with the way that I am. I’ve grossly misunderstood myself and why I act the way I do for a good portion of my life.
I am an introvert. There I said it. It is out in the open now. I’ve known this for a long time, but I didn’t really fully understand what it means. I thought introversion was something negative, but it is not.
What I’ve learned about introversion and extroversion has really helped me. I’ve developed a greater appreciation for both and this understanding has helped me to become more comfortable with myself and with all the crazy extroverts in this world. 🙂
The Difference Between Introverts and Extroverts
Again, there is a lot of misunderstanding perpetuated via books, the web and television about what it means to be an introvert or extrovert.
I used to think that shyness is what made a person an introvert. I knew that shyness was an undesirable trait so I really fought against thinking of myself in this way. The thing is, I had it all wrong.
I recently read Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, PhD. It was truly an eye-opening book.
If you’ve struggled with self-doubt because of being an introvert, then I’d highly recommend you read it. Also, if you suspect that maybe your spouse, child or close friend is an introvert, then again you could really learn some valuable information from this book.
For example, simply understanding the real difference between introverts and extroverts can make relationships much smoother.
Extroverts gain energy from interacting with other people and expend energy while reflecting. That’s why they like to go to parties and constantly hang out with their friends. Extroverts very seldom want to be left alone with their own thoughts.
On the other hand, introverts gain energy from being alone and reflecting. They expend energy when interacting. This is why introverts prefer solitary activities or smaller, more intimate gatherings. We like to read a good book, spend time writing in our journals and just hang out at home.
Most of us have some introverted and some extroverted tendencies. However, we generally have one orientation that we prefer and that fits us best.
The best way to decide if you are an introvert or extrovert is to look at your leisure time. How do you prefer to spend it? Do you relax and re-energize yourself by being alone or with others?
Where Conflicts Between Introverts and Extroverts Arise
Imagine an introvert married to an extrovert. The extrovert loves to go out with friends and attend every party they can find. It makes them feel alive and energized.
They can’t understand why their introverted spouse just wants to stay at home. They think, “What a stick in the mud!” It gets really old having to beg him/her to go all the time.
Extroverts are very persuasive so oftentimes the introvert gives in and follows their spouse to the party. It seems like the “right thing to do”. They are married after all. However, over time, the introvert starts to resent their extroverted partner for constantly dragging them to these events.
Once they are at the party, the extrovert disappears. He/she loves to mingle and talk to everyone and doesn’t understand why they find their introverted mate alone on the couch an hour later. They think their spouse doesn’t even try to make friends.
Before long, the introvert begins to feel like they’ve “done their duty” and wants to leave. Of course, the extrovert thinks it is way too early to leave now. The party is just getting started. If the introvert persists, then the extrovert may leave, but only with a healthy dose of frustration brewing.
In the car, tensions erupt. The extrovert can’t understand why the introvert is so boring and antisocial. The introvert doesn’t get why they can’t just enjoy one another’s company. They wonder, “Why does my spouse want to hang out with everyone but me?”
The Truth About Introverts and Extroverts
Have you ever experienced anything similar to the conflict above? I’ve been there, done that and it sucks. We live in a society here in America that assumes extroversion is the way to be. When you don’t want to party with people, something must be awry.
Have you ever told an extroverted friend or spouse that you just want to stay home on a Friday night only to be asked, “What’s wrong?” This same person might tell you that all you need is a good night out on the town to get you out of your doldrums. This is the way our extroverted society thinks.
I’ve spent a good portion of my life wondering what is wrong with me because of our culture of extroversion. I thought I was shy, anti-social, lacking self-confidence and just plain weird.
The truth is that I’m an introvert. I only want large-scale social interaction when my batteries are fully charged. Otherwise, I just don’t have the energy. Friday night after a long week at work is not the time to ask me to a party.
The funny thing about our society is that about half of us are introverts. It is true.
You’ve probably read a much different statistic in the past, but Helgoe went straight to the source to discover the truth. She found that 50.7 percent of us are introverts according to a large-scale population study published in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Manual.
This is truly astonishing to me! Why have I always felt so much in the minority? Half the population is just like me. There are a lot more introverts than you would think. This was a great relief to me and it helped me to more fully embrace the way I am.
Basically, I’m not as weird as I thought. I’m simply different from what our society assumes. This is the truth about me and it is about you too if you are a fellow introvert.
Being an Introvert Is a Good Thing
I can’t believe it has taken me this long in my life to figure out that being an introvert isn’t so bad and that it explains a great deal of my behavior that was previously a mystery.
Now I’m willing to go even one step further to say that I’m glad that I’m an introvert.
It’s true. I’m moving beyond that old baggage and embracing my strengths as an introvert or my Introvert Power.
Here are some of the reasons that I think it is good to be an introvert:
Introverts are the great thinkers, artists, inventors and problem-solvers in our world. They spend a lot of time contemplating the whys and hows that make the world go round. Without them, we would sacrifice a lot of the great discoveries and refinements in life.
Introverts are willing to spend time working on themselves. In fact, introverts relish in this kind of self-exploration. They are very introspective and often invest heavily in their own well-being.
Introverts are smart. One university found that 65% of their Phi Beta Kappa Honor Students were introverts.
Introverts are great conversationalists. They love to delve deep into noteworthy subjects. Leave the small talk to the extroverts. We want meat in our conversations!
It really is great to be an introvert. I found Laurie Helgoe’s book extremely enlightening. As a fellow introvert she was really able to help me unpack all the stereotypes and misinformation about introversion. If you’ve felt like a second-class citizen because you’re an introvert, then you absolutely need to read this book.