I've always understood myself to be an extrovert in that I really like being around people. I get energized from being out and about, from being others' company, and often my ideas and feelings are bounced off of other people.
At least, that's what I thought.
July 2013, I moved into an apartment by myself. I had never lived alone before. In fact, for a lot of my childhood, I shared a bedroom. So this was strange to me. I began appreciating living alone and the freedom I gained from it. However, when I came back home, and was constantly surrounded by friends and family, I would become overwhelmed. Had I become an introvert? Can someone even change from one to the other?
This past summer, I took the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory for the first time. Like I said before, I always identified with extroverts. But when I went to take the exam, I found myself perplexed. Answers that would have been easy before, were trickier. What kind of person am I at a social gathering? Do I like being alone? I answered with the best honesty I could. I had a suspicion that when the "answers" to the inventory came back, that they would call me an introvert.
Imagine my surprise when I wasn't handed just a list of letters (ENFJ by the way, for those of you keeping track at home). No, instead I was handed a spectrum. My answers to the inventory identified me as an Extrovert, but only by about a finger's width from the center of this graphic here.
Being on the Extrovert side of the middle can be challenging. Like, when you really want to hang out with your friends, but going out to do so may seem like a bit much. When you want to go to a party, but you'd feel much better if you knew everyone there. I do like meeting new people, I just don't like situations where I'm forced to meet new people. (Remember orientation week in college? Yeah, that was horrible.) I'm sure the being on the introvert side of the middle has it's own challenges as well.
There is a lot of information out there on how to talk to introverts, how to interact with extroverts, how to comfort introverts, and how to calm extroverts, the list goes on. What's important here to recognize is that extroverts can enjoy time by themselves, and introverts can host fantastic parties. Considering that we all exist on a spectrum is just more evidence in the importance of getting to know individual people instead of assuming to know someone's preferences based on an identity marker.
I really believe that the first step in learning how to talk to anyone, is beginning a conversation.
To all the introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between!
Thanks for reading.
Alright guys. It's accountability time.
Blogging has been important to me for the past couple of years, and when I don't do it, I miss an outlet and a source for exploration.
So here it goes, I'm committing to posting every Monday and Thursday. They may not be long. They may not be earth shattering.
But. This will get me to sit down and write.