Maybe You Really Are An Extrovert

I hate making phone calls. I know I’m not alone in this, so maybe it’s a manifestation of my generation or gender, but I usually have to pull out some really underdeveloped list making skills and write down...with a giant purple crayon... on an actual scrap of paper that may or may not be a piece of junk mail:




And then I don’t let myself do anything fun like wash the dishes or chip mold out of the toilet bowl until it’s done.   

So yesterday, I was on hold with the kid’s charter school after being transferred to four different people, and of course...of course as soon as I heard someone say, “Hello this is Sarah, how can I help you?” my four year old shoved a can of grapefruit La Croix onto my lap and said, “Open another beer for me please!” with a nice belch just in case the meaning wasn’t super clear for the nice ambassador of government education on the other side of the phone. She laughed as I fumbled over a desperate explanation and assurance it was sparkling water my nefarious offspring was referring to, but when I got off the phone I slid down my chair in a puddle of introvertedness.  

Of course if you’ve ever met me, introvert is probably not what you were thinking which begs the question. What is introversion and extroversion?  

Most people have heard Introvert/Extrovert commonly defined by the question “Where do you get your energy from?”. Extroverts get their energy from being around people, introverts get their energy from being alone, right?   

I disagree. (otherwise this blog entry would be very short, and where is the fun in that?)

I think it would be more accurate to say extroverts feed off of people-energy. (and apparently have completely different brain patterns) 

...but good luck getting them there in the first place...getting them to stay...or trying to talk to their cranky selves once you get them home.   My husband is a Ron Swanson type introvert, and as such he often drags me kicking and screaming to social gatherings where he throws me in the deep end like it’s a proverbial swimming pool and I have to sink or start talking to people.  Of course he stands over in the corner and surveys the masses while I partake in all of that amazing energy harvesting extroverts are supposed to be receiving.  But when we get home, guess who’s the drained one?  Mr. I-don’t-give-a-**** who feels exactly the same post party as pre party, or his convivial wife who has face planted on the sofa and is replaying every awkward thing she did or said that evening?  Mmmhmmm.  

(tangential note:I know we sound like loads of fun to invite places, but I swear we’re not as weird as I’m making us’s just the introverted part of me taking over the keyboard).  

A lot of introversion vs extroversion can be explained by an understanding of functions. An INFJ can appear pretty extroverted in public because of their overarching social intuitiveness. And an ENFP (like me) can feel introverted because of their secondary introverted feeling function. But for the sake of argument, let’s hypothesize a lot of other extroverted types feel like introverts these days thanks to social media.   I mean, think about it.  For hundreds of years extroverts have been living in small communities and plowing their field just like everyone else.  So the whole “get your energy from people” thing makes more sense when you’re milking Bessy at 4 a.m. and thinking about how amazing market day is going to be.   If it’s the 21st century though, it’s literally market day twenty-four seven and you’re probably extroverted up to your eyeballs before you even walk out the door.  Extroversion is like a starfish, and if all of the little suction cup thingies are already being filled by instagram, facebook, twitter, your blog subscriptions...drudge… huffpo...cnn etc then eventually you run out of things you can hang onto. Then when you read something called “10 signs you’re a misunderstood introvert” you suddenly realize you related to all of them a little too much!  

Depending on what scientific journal you read.  Extroverts account for anywhere between 50-74% of the population.  However if internet memes, articles and blogs are any indication, the percentage is more like 97% introvert 3% extrovert these days.  Everyone and their mother thinks they’re an introvert.  But statistics don’t lie (har har), so either a lot of people think they’re introverts when they’re really not, or the internet killed off enormous numbers of extroverts.

Not that it really matters in the end.   I personally hold two contradictory positions.  1) If they think they’re an introvert then there is some nugget of truthfulness there that suggests you should listen wisely.  2) If they act like an extrovert but think they’re an introvert, then there is some nugget of truthfulness there that suggests you listen wisely.  


And to all of my fellow inwardly-stressed-out extroverts.  I feel ya.