Monday, January 17, 2011

I'm an "inextrovert"! What about you?

Man, I hate Mondays. I hate them even more after staying up until midnight to watch the Golden Globes. I always say I'm not going to stay up and watch the whole thing ("ok, next commerical break, I'm going to bed...") but I always end up doing it. I live-tweeted throughout the whole evening, which was actually fun! It was like sitting around chatting about the show in real time with your friends. Plus, making fun of celebrities is always a good time. I love how Ricky Gervais can make them squirm! Mwahaha.

Anyhoo, one thing I do like about Monday's is that it means the "Monday Morning Motivator" will be in my email inbox! I signed up for this weekly email a while back when I was researching career coaching. It's sort of an email "newsletter" sent out on Mondays by CareerJoy, a "Canadian Career Coaching Company", and it always contains a short headliner advice article that is usually an interesting read.

This week's email headliner, entitled "Yes, but I'm an introvert...", caught my eye. The article states:

"Are you an introvert or an extrovert? If you are in introvert you are in good company. Introverts make up around 25% of the population. Some famous introverts include, Barbara Walters, Warren Buffet & Pierre Trudeau. Carl Jung defined introverts as "inward turning" and extroverts as "outward turning." Introverts are more energized alone, extroverts are energized by people. The classic myth is introverts are not as good with people, as extroverts are. We are all social beings, introverts can in many ways be better with people, they tend to be better listeners, more creative and more analytical. There are many advantages to being "inward turning" I would argue that it has never been a better time to be an introvert. With the rise of social media tools like, blogging. Linkedin, twitter and Facebook, great platforms for the person who is more introverted by nature. Social media is an "introverts" paradise."

This article mainly caught my eye because I've always considered myself to be an introvert. But on the other hand, I would consider myself to be an extrovert in some situations. Generally, I'm a shy person who is really uncomfortable approaching strangers and it takes me a while to warm up to people. However, I also enjoy socializing, meeting new people and having conversations. Which side of me predominates really depends on the dynamics and circumstances of each individual situation. I cannot be around people all the time (I have to have alone time and some social situations give me major anxiety) but I also can't be alone all the time either (I start to go stir-crazy if I don't socialize for a while and I love just being "out" with people where things are happening).

I know this is a complete contradiction but I'm willing to bet that the majority of people are this way, i.e. a mixture of intro and extroversion.

The thing that really gets me is that being introverted in our society is sort of seen as a negative thing. As Alan says above, "The classic myth is introverts are not as good with people, as extroverts are", and as someone who has been  classified as "introverted" pretty much her entire life, this stereotype is frustrating. (this post sort of relates to this one, where I discuss my Myers-Briggs personality type).

In our society, introversion is generally associated with anti-socialness (or at least poor social skills), being uptight and conservative, risk-averse, and agoraphobic, whereas extroversion is associated with being fun, talkative, adventurous and charismatic. For some reason, if you have a quieter personality and are a listener or thinker rather than a talker, than you are seen as wierd, mysterious, or as an outsider. Someone who doesn't like people and isn't open to new ideas and experiences. Just try Googling "introvert" and check out the image results (lets just say many of them are depressing).

I have struggled with shyness and self-consciousness my entire life, and I still struggle with it. I've come a long way and I become more and more ok with it as I get older but this is probably something I will always have with me. I'm becoming more and more ok with the fact that it's part of who I am but I can't lie, it's frustrating not being one of those people who (seemingly) feels comfortable talking to anyone about anything.

Much of the frustration that comes from being a "quiet" person stems not so much from wanting to change this about myself but from the judgments that people make because of it. I've had so many people assume that I just don't like people, that I have nothing important to say, that I'm a "goody-goody" who is timid and weak and obviously those things are completely off-base. I have had people even assume that shyness is something that I chose, that I can just snap my fingers and magically be outgoing all the time. Trust me, if it were that easy I would have done it by now. I do agree that my shyness is something I can work on overcoming by putting myself outside my comfort zone (and I try to do that as much as possible), but it's a lot easier said than done.

I just think there is something to be said for being quiet at times. I think there is something to be said for holding some things back, for thinking and listening before talking, for observing rather than interacting, for taking time to recharge and reflect, for having fewer, closer friends rather than a humongous social circle. It doesn't mean I won't chew you out or stand up for myself/loved ones if I feel the need. And you might find this hard to believe, but I actually love going on adventures, having opinionated heated debates, and I've partied too hard many times (hey I've got "skydiving" on my "30 B4 30" list, ok?)

I'm sorry if this sounds sort of "rant-y" as I didn't intend it to be. I'm not trying to get on a soap-box here and rant about how no one understands me. I just wanted to say that (as a traditionally "introverted" person) I have had many people make assumptions about me based on that alone. I may be an introvert, but that's not all I am. And extroverts are much more than their general personalities, too. Human beings are extremely complex creatures and it's not as simple as sticking a label on someone's shoulder and calling it a day.
In any case, regardless of what categories you do or don't fit into, it's not about the cards you are dealt it's how you play them.

Just remember, in games of chance (like life) it is often the quiet, unassuming ones you have to watch out for! (mwahaha) *wink*


Heather Rae said...

We have much in common!  It's good to know I'm not the only one that's a bit frustrated with the stereotypes and negativity that tend to come with being labeled an introvert.  There is definitely something to be said for listening, feeling out situations and holding back sometimes.  We all have something different to offer, and most all of us are a mix of introvert/extrovert to some extent.  So I think we might as well value all that comes with our own specific personalities and appreciate the way we are at our most authentic.  Thanks for linking me to this!  :)

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