Think you know whether you’re an introvert or an extravert? You might be surprised
‘Am I an extravert or an introvert?’ I asked a bunch of my friends recently. Extravert was the answer every time. Because I’m generally a chatty, lively, outgoing, opinionated kind of person who (not to brag or anything) has lots of friends and who you wouldn’t call shy, everyone agreed I must be an extravert. Turns out they were wrong.
Pyschiatrist Carl Jung, who popularised the terms introversion and extraversion
I actually already knew. I had suspected, after happening upon the definitions of extravert and introvert online, that I was the latter. Essentially, an extravert gets their energy from being around other people, whereas introverts get their energy from being alone. My interest piqued, I turned to that most respected of sources, an online quiz, and discovered conclusively that I was, in fact, an introvert.
Suddenly, my love of long train journeys alone, my intense dislike of small talk, the overwhelming desire I get to go off on my own when I’m on a group holiday – it all made sense, because these are all characteristics of an introvert. What I thought of as being on my own so I could ‘decompress’ was actually reenergising.
So why did everyone think I was an extravert? I think the results of the personality test I did reveal the answer to this. I landed on the introvert side of the spectrum, but only by about 20%. One definition says ‘extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious’ – which could describe me, but scratch the surface and you’ll find that all that interaction and assertiveness seriously tires me out.
My introvert awakening was an absolute revelation to me, and has been so liberating. I used to beat myself up about feeling antisocial or awkward in social situations, but now I don’t feel so bad. I don’t force myself to go to social events that I know are going to be a knackering small talk marathon, and I make sure to schedule in alone time so that I don’t end up in a bad mood. And talking to friends about my discovery has helped to identify fellow introverts who can empathise with the horror of a 12-hour work day with zero time to myself. Now if I could just get a regular solitude siestas written into my work contract the way smokers have cigarette breaks, that would be living the introvert dream.