Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Introvert vs. Extrovert

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you more introverted or extroverted?

Introvert, definitely.

"Introvert" is frequently misinterpreted as a synonym for "shy." It's also frequently treated by extroverts as a problem to "get past," as if introverts are having less fun or limiting their opportunities or suffering from fear if they admit to being introverts.

I think information about introvert vs. extrovert is becoming more common now; I don't see the misinterpretations as often as I used to. But people still sometimes express surprise that I could consider myself an introvert if I am not shy, if I'm not scared of public speaking or public performance, and if I can visit crowded public places or interact socially without a problem.

Introversion isn't some kind of character hangup that stops people from doing things. It's an expression of personality and comfort; it means that where a "people person" would feel rejuvenated by human contact, I find social interaction to be more of a drain on my resources, and I need alone time to recuperate. That doesn't mean that crowds in general bother me at all--in fact, I'd be far more drained from intense social interaction with an individual or small group than I would be moving through a crowd or performing for strangers. It also doesn't mean I resent or suffer due to social interactions. I just don't need it or want it all the time, and like to spend a lot of time alone.

It strikes me as very odd when people interpret this as a defense mechanism. As if the only reason someone might make a claim about preferring their own company would be if they didn't have friends or couldn't get anyone to give them attention. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. A certain type of person assigns their own beliefs and desires as normal and default, and casts suspicion on anyone who doesn't value the same things. The easiest thing to do is shame them, accuse them of lying, or frame happiness as necessarily containing very specific factors that everyone "needs." I would never tell someone who felt fulfilled with a whirlwind social life and spent almost no time alone that they were clearly compensating for not being able to handle their own company, nor would I make condescending comments about them not knowing themselves very well if they're always bouncing off someone else. I understand that people's wants and needs are diverse. So it's weird how I encounter so many challenges to mine.

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