So up until now I hadn’t given much thought to the whole concept of “introverts-vs-extroverts” thing that the blogsphere has decided to latch onto. I have a full set of personal neurosis which I spend far more time than I’d like to admit dealing with on a daily basis. Social anxieties have always been a deep seated issue of mine, but since I consider myself able to function reasonably well in social situations, for the most part, I never thought those “How to love an Introvert,” articles were talking about me.
Yeah, I have my initial shyness around new people and my ability to contribute to small talk is abysmal at the best of times, but despite my contention to the opposite, I don’t actually hate people. I sometimes hate dealing with people, but I don’t like feeling completely cutoff from society. I like being social and in the right circumstances I’m not the least bit shy about it.
That’s why I was taken somewhat aback when I read an article from the Huffington Post about the ’23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert’. For once I wasn’t even seeking an explanation for my perceived idiosyncrasies, I was legitimately just killing some time while I waited for Husband to be ready to watch a show with me.
As I read through the article, checking off the points that applied to me one by one, it suddenly dawned on me that not only had I gotten the whole idea of being an introvert wrong all this time, I was exactly the type of person the article was referring to.
Now, let me stop here to explain something for any younger readers who maybe don’t think they’ve found out who they are yet, or people who are so certain of who they are they can’t possibly imagine that reading a random blog post would have the power to send that certainty into a complete tailspin. I know I have weird issues, I’m completely comfortable with this fact and do my very best to deal with it in a way that has as little negative impact on the people around me as possible. Finding out that a lot of my ‘issues’ were actually just my personality’s way of finding a balance between my social personality and my innate introvert self was a game changer for me.
It’s like someone turned on a light switch and suddenly I could see further into the room of my own mind than I had ever before. I wasn’t just stumbling around blindly trying to make sense of why I feel and react certain ways to things, I had been given an overview of what was in there and why it caused me to get so frustrated with myself over things that weren’t actually a big deal.
I told Husband about my findings and about what makes a person an introvert or an extrovert. One of the points in the article even said that the two tend to end up in relationships together and after a quick assessment we determined this was likely the case for us as well.
Husband needs to be actively engaged in a task. Downtime frustrates him, he has no idea what to do when he’s between projects. He thrives on getting people on-board with his ideas and making things work. He gets a lot of his best ideas by solving problems for other people. He’s by far the more socially inclined of the two of us and actively seeks out other people’s perspectives when he’s on a task.
I have a slightly different approach. I can have a good time out and about, but I find it draining. Even having people come by to visit can leave me exhausted. Left to my own devices I’m perfectly content to work on my writing or drawing. I don’t need a massive project to keep me interested and I prefer to work on things myself to see how they turn out before I present them to anyone else.
Yeah, these seem like minor personality quirks, but I find it interesting how much of this is not only hardwired into our behavior, but that other people also fall into these categories. There has been much ado made about introverts as of late. Everything from books celebrating the introverted temperament to possibly well-meaning blogs written by extroverts detailing how to befriend introverts, which sadly come off as though they thought they were dealing with some exotic pet.
As an introvert, and yes that still feels weird to hear myself say, I recharge myself by being alone and doing solitary things. My extrovert husband gets energy from being in active and engaging environments. This realization has been an interesting change for the both of us, not only in how we view ourselves, but also in how we support each other.
Finally I get why he needs to be constantly in motion, always working on something and seemingly unable to appreciate just sitting down and not having any plans or obligations for the day. Now he has a better idea of why I just want to sneak off and write or read and not do something with him even though we both enjoy spending time together. We both have to learn to work around our basic temperaments.
Reactions from my friends have been mixed. Some wholeheartedly agreed that I was an introvert, why else would I be so nervous about social interactions sometimes? Others just snorted and told me that I wasn’t shy or quiet enough to be a true introvert. Can’t say that I really blame them, most of my life I would have agreed. I guess as with most social sciences the whole introvert/extrovert thing still needs some work and study before we can go around making grand proclamations about the quality of life a person can expect upon being diagnosed as one or the other. Probably for the best really.
If you’re still on the fence about where you fall on the personality spectrum (ambiverts are a thing too, who knew?) there are plenty of somewhat reputable and other less-so reputable quizzes online to help you establish a baseline. Who knows, maybe you’ll even learn something about yourself that you didn’t even know was there to learn.