Friday Fact: Introvert vs. Extrovert

image by Marii

I am a closet introvert.

That means that I'm an introvert who has learned to pretend to be an extrovert when necessary.

I'm not (repeat, NOT) ashamed of being an introvert. I think introverts are pretty darn cool. I even married me one.

It's just that sometimes, being extroverted is necessary. Job interviews, for example. Or teaching a class. Or hostessing a party (which we know I love to do).

For a lot of people, asking "are you an introvert or an extrovert?" feels the same as asking, "are you a good witch or a bad witch?"

The term introvert is often mistaken by extroverts as being synonymous with shy and socially anxious, or stoic and emotionally-robotic - but generally baffling and a bit boring to be around. Conversely, introverts mistake the extrovert to be loud, hyper, and overly animated - and generally exhausting to be around.

Well, being a recovered shy person and a current introvert who enjoys the company of many an extrovert, I'm here to set the record straight.

Really, being introverted is not the same as being shy at all. Just as being extroverted is not the same as being hyper. According to studies (the kind that ask people this sort of thing), extroverts clock in at 75% of the population, and introverts at 25%. Because they're usually surrounded by extroverts, introverts can tend to feel a bit guilty for not wanting to be more sociable.

Ever wanted to stay in on a Friday night to finish the really good book you've been reading rather than go out with 'the gang' for strawberry shakes, burgers, and dancing? (I don't know why it's always the 50's in my imagination) Ever feel like a very odd duck (maybe even an ugly duckling) as a result?

Well, knock it off. Because neither is bad. In fact - they're both really awesome. Both have really great strengths and both are completely necessary for the gear-like functioning of families, social circles, business, LIFE. Introverts and Extroverts are both fascinated by people - just in different ways - and they can both get along.

The basic difference is where they each get their energy.

An extrovert prefers to interact with people to give them energy. An introvert prefers solitude to recover their energy.

Not sure which you are? Read on, friend!

An extrovert experiences loneliness when they are not in contact with people.
An introvert feels most alone when they are in a crowd - especially of strangers.
An extrovert is sociable and desires contact.
An introvert is territorial and desires space.
An extrovert is the first to answer the phone.
An introvert likes to script out the conversation before he'll even pick up the phone to dial.
When an extrovert goes to a party, she gets more and more energy as the party progresses - and when the party is over, she may be ready to go to another one.
When an introvert goes to a party, after a 'reasonable' amount of time, he's ready to go home. He's king of the 'make an appearance" approach to partying.

Say an introvert and an extrovert go to the library to work on a research project. The research process (quiet focus and study) recharges the introvert but exhausts the extrovert; and after fifteen minutes or so, the extrovert will have to take a break and strike up a conversation with the librarian.

Extroverts are more interested in breadth of scope (they usually have a large social circle with friends that come and go), introverts are more interested in depth of scope (their social circle is small and very established).

Extroverts are interested in what's happening externally. Introverts are interested in the internal reactions. For example - say our introvert and our extrovert go to a movie with a group of friends. The extrovert is very aware of everything that's going on - the ride to the theater, the purchase of the popcorn, the finding of the seats (so we can all sit together!), the plot of the movie - and lets get dessert after! The introvert was more aware of the slight tone of awkwardness between Judy and Sam when they had to sit together on the car ride to the theater. The introvert was more aware of how Jake really really wanted to get butter on his popcorn and was disappointed when the majority opted for none. The introvert noticed the mood dynamic of the seating arrangement in the theater row (whom was sitting by whom, whom was not sitting by whom, and why) and was keenly aware of everyone's emotional reaction to the movie - which often distracted her from the actual movie itself (ooh, I hope that Judy and Sam are okay with this romantic scene - it so closely parallels their relationship before the breakup!).

The point I'm trying to make, though, is that they are both a lot of fun to go to a movie with. One is not better than the other; and I would submit that both are essential - both to each other and to make the world go round. And people aren't usually 100% one or the other. So the next time you hear Grandpa Joe say, "What? Sally isn't an introvert! She's a good girl!" You have my permission to politely smack him.


So which are you?


Jeff and Ari said...

I'm an extrovert :)! But one who can get lost in a book and sometimes just loves to curl up for hours without any other contact :)!

Ashes said...

Ah!!! The life of an introvert who enjoys to throw parties. I am your sister in that realm. I miss your parties and your company. At least our introvert-spirits can enjoy each others' company through the blog network.

Grandpa Rusty said...

Great analysis, Stepper. As you know, I'm an introvert, which some people refuse to believe because I love doing theatre, performing a character. But from your explanation, that's because I love to bring a character from a show into my inner circle of intimate friends (meaning I know them deeply). I don't really thrive on the applause or the acclaim. In fact, I really dislike having to greet the public after a performance. I know whether I did a good or bad job in that performance because I know if the character lived through me or not. I don't need to hear someone else praise my work, especially when I know I didn't do as well as I could have. My, my, my, how I ramble.
--The rambling introvert

Diana Larson said...

VERY well stated. After reading this I realize I am DEFINITELY an introvert. Glad to be in the same club as you and Bill.

Nae said...

I prefer being close to people I love, and those situations I feel like I could be social forever. But I think I have enough of my dad in me that I could spend a whole week wrapped up in a book or just my husband. Or both. We're actually reading the Harry Potter series together right now (out loud in our spare time) and it's the best!!!

Ali Marie said...

I'm an introvert for sure. Kinda funny how when Steve (who is a major extrovert) was gone my idea of "going out" was a movie by myself or going to some food place and eating while reading my book. :) What is really interesting though is the way that Steve and I deal with being married to someone who relaxes and is revived in such opposite ways.

MikkSolo said...

I am a "Jekyl and Hyde" Introvert/Extrovert. I don't know if I need to settle on one lable. I think I'll go 50/50. OK mabey 55/45. GOOD INSIGHTS!


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