Wicked Wednesday–Introvert or Extrovert

Wicked Wednesdays is when we all chime in on the question of the week. This week: Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?

Liz: This is such an interesting question for me. I always considered myself extroverted, because despite being a book nerd as a kid I was always very social. Later, when I joined corporate America, I took the Myers-Briggs test as part of a team exercise. And found I was over in the introvert side, while still being close to the extrovert line.

After doing some research on the subject (which I enjoy because I am a nerd), I understood the difference. An extrovert gets their energy from crowds of people. Introverts need to pull away after social events and gather their energy through solitude. I think I identify with both of these. After a day of work or a work event, I can’t wait to get away and “be myself.” That’s where I can see the introvert coming through. But when I spend time with writers, I always walk away energized. It could be the massive amount of creativity coming together in one place, or spending time with like people and wonderful friends. It’s also understanding that writing is my passion, and being with people who “get it” is a blessing.

If you like Ted talks, this is a great one on the subject:

Julie: I am such an introvert, but I play an extrovert in real life. Let me explain. I have a job that requires me to meet, greet, chat, smile, give speeches, mix, and mingle. I also teach, which is pretty much doing a two hour performance twice a week. So because I can do those things, people assume it is easy. It isn’t. After I teach, I need a nap. And a happy day off is frequently me not talking to anyone but my cat. In fact, I need those days off. So a definite, but functioning, introvert.

Jessie: Here’s a third vote for introvert. Like Julie, I am decent at forging into the world and interacting with a lot of positive energy. I actually like crowds of strangers where I can people watch without having to engage, places like the beach or a mall. But fairly soon I need to go home and not spend any more time in other people’s energy streams. Echoing what Liz said, I am surprised by how the rules don’t seem to apply when I am busy with interactions involving writing. I feel completely different about book signings, book clubs and writing conferences. In any of those situations I feel nourished by the interactions instead of drained and am always eager to attend them.

Sherry: I know the other Wickeds would all call me an extrovert and for the most part I am. I love people’s stories and find people telling me personal things–like the cashier at Safeway talking to me about being adopted. Or the kid behind me in line at Chipolte telling me he’d just rear-ended someone and we talked about slowing down. But I sometimes have to take a deep breath when walking into a room of strangers and as a military wife you do that a lot. I also enjoy quiet time to write and read. I was surprised when Julie, Barb, Jessie and Liz said they were introverts because they are all so approachable.

Barb: No surprise that I’m an introvert, too. I think many writers are. You have to enjoy being alone with your thoughts for long periods of time to write a novel. My sister-in-law trained as an artist, but in the end became an artist’s agent. She has the hand, eye and creative brain of an artist, but couldn’t stand the idea of being alone in a studio all day. So she put all those skills to work furthering the careers of others, and creating a career in art for herself.

The family described in the Ted talk–where the predominant group activity is reading–is exactly the family I grew up in, and then I married a reader and created yet another generation of readers. I don’t dislike people. I loved working on teams all those years when I was at work. If we have a topic or a goal in common, I’m happy to talk until the cows come home. But I’m not good with small talk, and, just the opposite of Sherry, I’m the person no one talks to in the supermarket line or on the bus. “Leave me alone,” is my vibe.

Edith: What an interesting thread! I am also someone I think most people would describe as an extrovert. I like parties, I like talking with people, I’m good at events like the farmers’ market yesterday where I had a special Author’s table and kept reaching out to the shoppers strolling by, telling them about my two series, handing out bookmarks, and showing them the positive review of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die in this summer’s Edible Boston. But it was exhausting, and not just from the 93-degree heat. I love time alone and need it. I had the same kind of Meyers-Briggs results as Liz. When my family (or now, just Hugh) goes away for a few days or a week, I exult in time alone at home.

Readers: What about you? Introvert? Extrovert? Somewhere in the middle? Do social events drain you or energize you? What kind of character do prefer to read about?

6 Thoughts

  1. Historically I’m an introvert, but I may finally be outgrowing it (took me long enough!). When I worked at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, our president decided one year that we should all try the Meyers-Briggs test (one of her sporadic bonding exercises). I was horrified to find I matched closely with two of the people I liked least there (including the president).

    1. There is a potent combination of getting older and having a career that requires public speaking that helps round off the introvert edges. Love the Meyers-Briggs story. Similar thing happened to me–I thought “am I really like that?”

  2. I would say I am mostly introvert, but not as much as I used to be. As a child I cringed when anyone outside of family talked to me. Then I got married and had kids. People talk to you when you have a baby with you so that really broke the ice. Then I worked as a cashier for a while. And it was easier to talk to strangers, especially when they had a baby with them. So I am better about being with more people. But I still dread going to my husband’s office parties and picnics. I would rather be home hiding in a corner, with a book, of course!

    1. I am a very functional introvert. People would never peg me as one, but being with people exhausts me. And you’re right–babies are a conversation starter. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I *thought* I was an extrovert for most of my life (even tested that way on the MBPTI)…because I thought it was better to be that way, but after learning about what introversion really means, I have fully embraced it! I was definitely introverted as a kid but I think I forced myself into extroversion. I also like the term “functional introvert” because that definitely fits me. I can be around people…even large groups, as long as I am prepared and as long as I allow myself some decompression time afterwards!

    1. I think I’ve always leaned towards extrovert, Karen. But I loved the “functional introvert” term too. And since I enjoy being alone I must have some latent introvert qualities!

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