Are You An Introvert Or An Extrovert? Why The Answer Might Surprise You

16.8.17

If you could hack life the way a technician can hack a computer, I’d hack my life so that I would know in advance if I was going to “bump into” someone later in the day. I like to know and plan for any and all human interactions.

If I bumped into someone I knew and they asked if I wanted to go out for lunch, right then and there, like now, I would literally not know what to say. I would seize up, get a knot in my throat, feel my body go a little stiff. And it’s not because I don’t want to go out for lunch! It’s because I wasn’t expecting the invitation.

Basically I’m not good with spontaneity. I really, really dislike spontaneity.

Do I sound like a sociopath? Yes, probably. Except I’m not. I love humans, I crave connection and I have the capacity to talk more than anyone else I know. I’m just the kind of person that very rarely gets FOMO. Because it isn’t FOMO if you had no desire to go in the first place.

I’m an introvert.

The funny thing is that I went through the first twenty years of my life thinking I was an extrovert. No contest. I was an extrovert. And this assumption was based on a few things: I’m outgoing, smiley and really, really love to talk (Can you tell? Nah?). The natural volume of my voice is loud and – fun fact – I am physically incapable of whispering. I love to put people at ease and hate when people feel left-out. I’m never too shy to dance at weddings, and I can give toasts and speeches without sweaty palms.

But it wasn’t until I was having a conversation with someone who works in medicine and they explained to me what actually classifies someone as an extrovert or an introvert that I realised how wrong I was!

Apparently it all comes down to energy sources.

If you are a person who finds it invigorating to be around other people, if you feel your most full when you’re with your friends, have no idea how to entertain yourself and frankly get bored easily, then you are probably an extrovert. If by contrast, you often leave brunch with friends, a meeting, party, or any social gathering – big or small – feeling noticeably more tired than when you arrived, if you require energy to be “on” at a party or to engage in good conversations, and have never really understood people who get lonely, then you are probably an introvert. Extroverts will rarely go out of their way to have quality alone time – something an introvert thrives on.

For as long as I can remember I thought extroverts were loud and introverts were shy, but it has nothing to do with that. Most of us thought that to be an introvert meant to have tendencies towards being overly emotional, sensitive and vulnerable, and yet scientifically speaking, not one of those attributes is accurate. Think of it like this, I love driving to my beach house alone; it’s three uninterrupted hours where I can listen to music or be with my own thoughts and to me that is pure bliss. I would find that same drive infinitely more exhausting if I had a passenger to entertain for three f*cking hours. But an extrovert couldn’t think of anything more soul-destroying then driving all the way from Auckland to the Coromandel by themselves with no one to talk to. See?

Put simply, if you get energy from being around other people and use energy to be on your own – you’re extroverted. If you get energy from having alone time, and use energy in a social setting – you’re introverted!

Now, as with all things I ever dish out on this blog, you should take the above with a grain of salt. You might have another concept entirely. But when this person explained it to me in terms of where we find and where we use energy, it just made a lot of sense.

And as it turns out, I’m what’s referred to as an “outgoing introvert”. The most easily mistaken for an extrovert. Go figure.

So, what are you?

Header image by Holly Burgess for The Twenties Club