Introvert Or Extrovert?

I have to admit, Iím pretty darn bubbly. If you meet me in person, youíre likely to think Iím a people person who loves being around loads of my peeps. And on one level, thatís true. But Iím discovering something very interesting on my†book tour for†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend. Although Monistat is footing the bill (bless you Monistat!), I intentionally chose to stay with friends along the way because I DO love people. And I figured my friends would be a grounding force for me as I navigate a process that makes me very spinny.

The down side of this brilliant plan is that I am never alone. When I wake up in the morning, my darling friends are officiously brewing me tea. When I arrive home at 11pm after a college talk, my friends want to talk until 2am because Iíve been so busy getting ready for this book tour that Iíve been a sucky friend –and they miss me. And I miss them. So weíre like kids at a slumber party — without the Mommy forcing us to shut out the lights and go to bed. Even my normally solitary hikes have been with friends, rather than solo.

All day, Iím surrounded by people. Iím interviewed by journalists. Iím doing speaking engagements in front of crowds of people. Iím signing book after book after book. Iím on busy trains, in long lines at airports, and sitting in big restaurants where my knees are bumping up against the people next to me. Everywhere I go, I am in the company of others.

Am I Really An Introvert?

All this company, while wonderful, is getting to me a bit. Now keep in mind that I live in a really small town, where there are only maybe 100 houses in my neighborhood. I share my home with deer and coyote and raccoons and wild turkeys and maybe the occasional bobcat or mountain lion. I realize I left the big city for a reason.

I always considered myself an extrovert because I love people. In fact, spending two years as a full time artist/writer almost made me crazy. Until I did it, I never realized exactly what that means Ė that you are alone, in a studio or in front of a computer, that you might still be in your pajamas at 7pm unless you rally to put on exercise clothes and go for a walk. And that it’s very easy for life to become all about YOU, rather than being about service. †While there are some advantages to this life- and I’m totally not judging it for other people- I realized that it wasnít completely authentic to who I am.

But is this life authentically me? Now Iím living this life surrounded by people where Iím the center of attention everywhere I go. And itís making me a wee bit batty.

Introvert Or Extrovert?

I always thought that an introvert was someone who didnít like being around people and an extrovert was someone who did. I love people, so I always considered myself an extrovert, until someone asked me how I recharged. She told me that introverts recharge alone, while extroverts recharge in the company of others.

It got me thinking. Today, for the first time, Iíve spent four hours basically alone. Given, Iím sitting on a train with hundreds of people. But Lauren is four seats back, and Jayne is six seats forward and the seat next to me is empty. I have my iPod on, playing meditation music, and Iím sitting here writing, while the people around me are sleeping or listening to music or reading their books. So for all practical purposes, I am alone, for the first time in two weeks. And I feel rejuvenated!

Some go to workshops to recharge. Some attend church. Some join support groups or gather with girlfriends for happy hour or visit family. Not me. I go hiking — not with a friend, but all by myself.

Big groups make me a little squirrely. I have a tendency to make a splash when Iím in a group. I havenít quite learned how to fade into the woodwork, so I wind up being the center of attention, and that triggers all this weird shit in me and makes me shrink inward to deflect the attention. Iím learning how to handle that better, but the truth is, as much as I put myself out there in the world with my writing, Iím still kind of shy in real life. I like my solitude. The truth is that I recharge alone. Does that make me an introvert? Iím not sure. Maybe.

Finding Your Juice

So Iím learning, on this book tour, to set boundaries, to kiss my friends goodnight earlier, to make time for ME, and to own what I need. Sure, my friends wonít like this very much. They want to be with me when I see them for the first time in a year. They want to stay up late, reminiscing and sharing stories and holding hands and laughing. And part of me wants that too. But Iím also learning to honor what I need. Iím learning to find my juice.

Are You An Introvert or An Extrovert?

What about you? Do you love people? Do they deplete you? Do you recharge alone or in the company of others? What do you think defines an introvert vs. extrovert? Do tellÖ.

Related Links:
What’s Your Personality Type?
How to Love an Introvert
How to Love an Extrovert


Jane H.
Jane H5 years ago

I definitely recharge in silence and solitude . Can't seem to get enough of it.

Olivia Schlosser
Past Member 7 years ago

According to the Myers-Briggs personality test, I score as slightly extroverted (there is no category for ambivert)...also intuitive, feeling, and perceiving. When I am with people like me I am extroverted...but with STJs (or anyone with 2 of those traits) I am extremely introverted--they completely drain me...if I hang around long enough to give them a chance.

Mark S.
Mark S7 years ago

Thanks for posting. As a previous poster mentioned, I feel that introversion/extroversion is a scale, not an "either/or". For me, the only people I really enjoy being around are those who are most closest to me. I find anyone else, even casual friends and most of my family, to be as exhausting as they are enjoyable to spend time with. This has nothing to do with them -- it's that being sociable takes effort for me, and makes me feel like I'm not really being myself. But when I need to, I can suck it up and be outgoing and personable. So I think introverts often have to learn to be more outgoing in order to fit in, which can make it hard to see how introverted a person really is and to really get to know that person as they really are. Which may be how they want it.

Tori W.
Past Member 7 years ago

i don't believe this is another "either/or" choice. years ago, i took the MMPI (Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality Indicator) in a business/psych class. While no test of this sort is entirely accurate, i learned something really valuable. I am an introvert and an extrovert. how i am seemed to be driven by situational needs at that time. From this, I learned to be either one or the other WHEN I NEED IT, not when it is dictated by some outside expectations. for me, this was an important lesson. i just think that everyone is part both and should be as comfortable with either preference and realize the needs we have as individuals.

Fisher Cynge
Banbha M7 years ago

She found this out now? Life is all about me...until someone important comes up in my life and I'll take away some me time to serve their needs for a while but one's life cannot be ALL about friendship or love. You can't be around people ALL the time! There's a saying in my family 'You're born alone, you live alone and you die alone' and I'm more than happy with being alone. Always have been, determined that I'll stay that way.

Cindy B.
Cindy B7 years ago

I think the more extroverted one is, the more important introversion might become as well.

For instance, I find people absolutely fascinating. I find myself studying the tiniest things about them, wondering what they're really thinking, if they're comfortable, what they might need... When I'm around a living, breathing human being, I can't just disappear comfortably into my own little world but rather am quite compelled by the psychic energy I can feel emanating from that person. I feel myself needing to attend, acknowledge and extend positive personal regard.... whew! That can really get tiresome.

And so I absolutely relish time alone; it's the only time I can really relax. My mother was exactly like that, but she had it in spades. I think a lot of this has a basis in manic traits... one is constantly, if unconsciously, searching for "targets" to expend that extra nervous energy on. Sometimes this can relegate that other person to a bit of an afterthought.

I try to catch myself on this and mitigate it where it seems called for. Otherwise, whether "introvert" or "extrovert," you're possibly not being totally honest with either yourself or the other.

Mary L.
Mary L7 years ago

Some introverts look like extroverts as a camouflage device.

Lynn C.
Lynn C7 years ago

Whew. Don't know how you do it, Lissa, with all that beautiful wilderness around you and have constant visitors. Not for me, I guess, but to each his/her own. People make me jump! I love solitude - no phones, no pets, just the wild country and the "silence' of the great Earth Mother. Heaven!!!

Vicky L.
Vicky L7 years ago

This intro/extrovert is just an academic question. Noone is 100% one or the other. How you recharge depends on what's currently going on in your life and what kind of people you are blessed or cursed to interact with.
Making oneself a center of attention is a gift of charisma fed by ego-stroking reward, but of course it's energetically depleting. You don't need to live in a crowded city to achieve attention, many people get the world's attention completely alone, online.

Kathy K.
Kathy K7 years ago

Interesting question about recharging. Thanks.