So again, I am prefacing this post with the fact this is my opinion, or at least this is something I am mulling over and wanted to open the space for discussion and ideas.
Introvert or extrovert?
It’s one of those questions that gets asked a lot.
When I was younger I was definitely an introvert in all manner of speaking. I was shy, I wouldn’t say boo to a goose, even just speaking up in public made me go bright red and burst into tears. I didn’t like the attention. I didn’t like making eye contact. I was just very unsure of myself.
At this time in my life, and for many years I thought being an introvert meant you were shy and that being an extrovert meant you were confident and outspoken.
I also believed that you were either one of the other AND that it was a static – part of who you were.
However, as time has gone by (I’ve been at this forty years now – yes I’m not afraid to say I’m forty!), my view on this has changed and shifted.
I now believe that being an introvert or extrovert is not exactly a personality trait. It’s actually about where you source your energy from.
I understand that introverts thrive better in isolation, in quiet environments, in small intimate groups or in a place where they do not have too much stimulus in their space. Extroverts however thrive and are fuelled by large groups of people, in fast paced, noisier environments, where they have the attention and energy focus of many others.
Put an introvert into the space that an extrovert thrives and they are likely to crumble or flip out, or manage okay for a while but then need to retreat to ‘their’ best environment to refuel and recharge. On the flip side, if an extrovert is alone for too long, then start to feel on edge and constrained and they have a need to express themselves in someway that might be shouting out loud, or creating a scene so as to dispel their pent up energy.
The thing is to be aware of what helps you and what hinders you. Be aware of when you notice that the environment is either stifling you or supporting you.
The other thing I mentioned was about this idea is about the type of person you are being – whether it’s static and polarised? I actually believe that it’s more of a sliding scale and that it changes – depending on the season you’re in – whether you are in hibernation mode, or whether you are in ‘birthing’ mode (ie. bringing forth a new idea or starting out on a new path or goal).
I have definitely noticed that I have changed over the years. I am definitely more confident now (which I think has more to do with maturing and realising I shouldn’t really give a shit about how others view me – a lesson learned from my dad, which I think I will write a post about one day), but also I do tend to shift and change regarding what fuels me.
I have often been a ‘loner’ preferring my own company and enjoying silence (any time I am in my office working, I have no outside stimulus as it distracts me), and yet, as I mention in this post, I sometimes crave connection and feel I need to talk the hind legs off a donkey.
In terms of a sliding scale of extrovert and introvert, I actually think I’m in the middle with a slight leaning towards introversion.
I think many online entrepreneurs consider themselves introvert, because a lot of their time is spent on their own behind their computers and even if they are presenting on webinars, they are still only in their own space with a a counter saying how many people are watching and even then, it doesn’t seem real.
I was an actress for many years, and this was probably the unlikeliest path anyone would have thought I would take because of my shyness as a kid. Yet, I thrived on performing. Especially on stage, live to an audience. I still can’t quite fathom why that was. I have been pulled different ways – in terms of wanting to be recognised and adored by an audience and my peers, to wanting to stay behind the scenes and live a quiet life whilst still being able to express myself.
I think this is the dichotomy of the complex character that I am – I’ve realised I don’t necessarily need to understand why, but just be aware of what is fuelling me and adapt accordingly. And I’d invite you to do the same.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below…