My Commentary on The Ongoing Debate About Extroversion vs. Introversion

Lately, it seems as though Facebook has become the breeding ground of sharing articles, and I’ve been noticing a lot of articles about the difference between introversion, extroversion, and the misconceptions about either one. This topic is one that I, myself, feel very passionate about because I do believe there is a very clear divide between extroversion and introversion, and I am here to regale you all with my thoughts. Also hello, everyone. I took a month off from blogging, but now I am back.

I would first like to preface this post by saying that I do not claim to be an expert on introversion or extroversion. I am also not trying to put down anyone who identifies as either, and I am also not trying to label anybody as I see appropirate – I recognize that it’s very frustrating when someone thinks they know you better than yourself, and insists that you are a certain type of person when, in fact, they don’t know half of what they claim they are talking about. This is simply an outlet for me to express my thoughts and put in my two cents on the matter.

One particular article that I’ve been seeing tossed around the smorgasbord of random posts, AKA Facebook, was this one. What initially caught my eye was the use of the term “Extroverted Introvert” in the title. I was intrigued by this, wondering how being an “extroverted introvert” was even possible, and how the author of the post would prove the existence of an “extroverted introvert.”

Let’s first start with the two words by themselves. An extrovert is somebody who gets energized by being in a social atmosphere. The stereotypical image of an extrovert is someone who is always willing to go out to parties, social gatherings, and what have you. Any extended period of time alone makes the extrovert very restless and antsy and thus is someone who will go out on the town at the drop of the hat, with little to no notice, because that is how they are energized.

On the flip side of that, an introvert is somebody who is energized by spending time alone, or immersed in their own thoughts without any external distractions. Usually the introvert is depicted as somebody who is very quiet and secluded, almost always preconceived as being “antisocial” (which is an inaccurate label to put on introverts, but I will elaborate on this later). An introvert is someone who needs ample notice before going out and being around people to mentally prepare for any social gathering, and also needs time to reenergize by spending time alone either during or after a social event.

I do not believe that extroversion and introversion lie on a spectrum. I believe that you are either one or the other, and never “both” or “somewhere in the middle.” However, I do believe that there is such a thing as a “shy extrovert” or an “outgoing introvert.” What gets to me is when people interchange “shy” with “introverted” and “outgoing” with “introverted.” Shyness and being outgoing are nowhere near the same universe as extroversion and introversion. I, myself, consider myself to be an outgoing introvert, and I do have a handful of friends who consider themselves as such as well. It is possible to be able to be outgoing and want to have conversations and talk to people, but still need the time alone to reenergize from any social activity. A shy extrovert would probably be somebody who simply enjoys the company of large groups of people, but cannot bring themselves to participate in a conversation because they are, well, shy. The fact of the matter is that they feel vitalized in the presence of other people and would rather be in such an atmosphere than in one where they are alone.

I enjoy the fact that introverts and extroverts don’t necessarily need to be confined to the stereotypes of their respective personalities, hence the “outgoing introvert” and “shy extrovert” labels. As a self-identified outgoing introvert, allow me to give you a peek at what goes on in my mind during social situations.

I am the type of person that enjoys going out by myself. One of my favorite things to do is to sit in a coffee shop (namely Alfred’s on Melrose) and either write, read, listen to music, or just people watch. There is something so cathartic and therapeutic about sitting alone with my own thoughts. Why at a coffee shop? Places like those are perfect for an outgoing introvert because they provide a somewhat social environment, but without the obligation of having to interact with any of the people around you. I enjoy watching movies by myself because I can formulate my own thoughts without the distraction of other viewers around me. Sure, I like to spend lazy days alone in my own bedroom, but being confined by four walls inside a house can get lonely, and that’s when delirium settles in.

I also don’t mind going out with other people. But I am the type of person that needs to be notified in advance so that I can mentally prepare for what’s to come (i.e. energizing myself by spending time alone before having to interact with other people). There have been a few situations where I was invited to parties, under the impression that they would just be small intimate gatherings, but upon arriving to a house with cars lined up and down the street, all of a sudden feeling exhausted at the thought of being surrounded by so many people. The same happens when I’m surrounded by a lot of people for an extended period of time. I get exhausted, apathetic, and increasingly moody the longer I’m being forced to stay in that social atmosphere. This is perhaps the reason why you find me speed-walking through the many seas of people on campus with my head down and my headphones in. I am, by no means, “anti-social.” I enjoy the company of others, as long as I get the chance to spend a few minutes alone to reconvene my thoughts and sanity.

Going back to the article I brought about at the beginning of this post, I don’t believe the author of that post was wrong. The things that he experiences and feels are very much valid and very much real, and are his own and nobody else’s. I share much of the same qualities that he brought up in his post. I do believe, though, that he is mistaken in terms of what to call this collection of seemingly contradicting personality traits. Introverted or extroverted, it is important to know what it means to have either tendency, and how they interact with people.

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