I have always wondered if I am an introvert? Or an extrovert? Or an introverted extrovert, or and extroverted introvert? Well what does that all mean anyway?
My wonderful friend, Jo once gave me a beautiful definition of introvert -extrovert which made a lot of sense to me.
You are an introvert if you are searching for your energy from inside yourself, as opposed to an extrovert, who needs others to get energized. Once I reflected on that definition, it really made a lot of sense to me and made me realize that I am neither a full introvert nor a complete extrovert as I really need both sources of energy. At times, I need lots of friends around me; other times I love my little cozy place and being all by myself.
At first, I thought I was an introvert and maybe people perceived me as being reserved or shy. In my younger years, I was often reserved and even shy.
In front of a group, I often turned red when I had to say something or express my opinion. Giving my point of view was a hard thing to do for me. Later during my work years, I knew that if I didn’t say something right at the start of a meeting I would stay silent the whole meeting, even when I had a lot to contribute. Not speaking up at the very beginning at any event kind of blocked me for the rest of the event and I would just passively sit there with a lot to contribute and yet still remain silent.
For a long time, I considered myself a typical introvert:
- I do need some time on my own
- People often described me as ‘quiet’ and might have found it difficult to get to know me
- I don’t like shallow small talk (see my post on the wonderful power of opening up)
- I am very self-aware
- I like to learn by watching
- I tended to need to warm up during any social event
And I was not at all these characteristics:
- Tend to think out loud
- Making quick decision (remember I am late bloomer!)
- Enjoying being the center of attention
However with time I realized that:
- I have plenty of friends
- I enjoy meeting new people
- At times I even enjoy light chitchat
All characteristics typical for an extrovert.
So introversion and extroversion are not all or nothing traits. I guess some people fall closer to the extreme ends making them either very introverted or very extroverted. And others are closer to the middle, which gives them qualities of both introversion and extroversion.
So what is the category I fall under? I realize I am not a full introvert but rather an extroverted introvert. I guess that through my education, I have been raised in a very traditional way where opinions of little ones were not really considered. Often I had to remain silent and just accept decisions taken on my behalf while I would have chosen a completely different route back then. So I became this shy and reserved person seeing and considering myself very much an introvert, which I am yet still with a lot of extroversion.
Here comes this extroverted introvert, a bit of both and I like that:
- I am very conscious about the environment where I am. Meaning I do pay attention to the ambiance of a place which either energize or drains me depending if it matches my preferences
- I love to meet new people, listening to their stories, although after a while I need to recharge by being alone or just with one other person
- Some of my friends really make me feel better after spending time with them, others literally drain me (my energy?) and I need to get away.
- Although small talk is not my favorite activity, I enjoy doing it at times and it can lead to a deeper conversation. People say they feel comfortable around me and I can make them easily talk and open up. However, I guess most people don’t really see my true self, I appear easy going but my mind is always running.
- I love my crowd around me, yet I also have a select group of friends who really know me and who I value.
- And it’s true that I am often confused for an extrovert, people would say “oh no you are an extrovert” and I have to explain “oh no, I am more an extroverted introvert”
Well there is no right or wrong, it is actually all about understanding my needs and honoring them. At times, I am outgoing and can have the party of my life and during some other times, I need some “me time” to recharge and stay in front of the TV watching my favorite TV show.
So have you ever thought about what traits are yours ?
Are you extrovert?, or an introvert? Or an extroverted introvert like me?
Let me know
Be Curious, be courageous, be bold and be yourself