I’ve been searching out memes and writing prompts in more free form than the typical quiz format. I have fun with those and have met a ton of blogging friends participating in them over the years, but they do not allow for a ton of creativity. One of the weekly prompts I found is Friday Question at ilaxStudio, the book of a pretty cool lady named Kim. I’d encourage my meme loving friends to check it out. Oh, and, I still think of it as Friday until I’ve gone to bed.
Today’s Friday Question: What is your definition of introvert/extrovert and which characteristics do you identify with more (introvert, extrovert, in-between)?
For most of my life, I considered myself introverted. Growing up, I didn’t have much of a social life. I really had no social life most of my school age years. Some of the problem was how often we moved around when I was a kid. If I was lucky, I had a friend from school who lived close enough to hang out after school, weekends, and summer vacation. Otherwise, I had my younger brother, books, and Barbies. In high school, things were a little different, but not much. I had a few friends, but still no social life or extra curricular activities. I read and wrote constantly mostly in my room listening to music primarily recorded sometime before my birth. Yeah, I was cool.
It was when I was eighteen that I found my seemingly extroverted side. I’d gone back for my senior year of high school and soon after got hired at Payless ShoeSource. It was my very first job. People don’t think about it this way, but it was a sales and customer service job. I had a great manager who did most of the logistical work of running the store allowing his staff to focus on selling. Something about being given a task and a name tag lifted the vial of shyness. No surprise. For a people pleaser like me simply wants to meet the goals my teachers and now my boss set forth. Following recommendations on my technique, I learned to be the smiling, outgoing sales girl the position required. And I loved it. I loved connecting with a customer as a person. I loved convincing someone to buy an item based on my recommendation. I even loved the horrible customers. I loved talking down an angry customer or getting complements on how nice I was from a truly grating customer. I learned so much about interacting with people.
Only once in the intervening dozen years have I worked in a job that didn’t involve working with the public. I worked as a temp for couple weeks in a factory, light manufacturing. It was awful in large part because I was lonely. No one who meets me would assume I’m introverted or even shy. I love to talk, meet new people, strike up conversations in the grocery line. But I still sometimes felt socially awkward and essentially felt like an introvert inside, wanting to be alone or with someone I was comfortable enough with to be silent much of the time.
So, the question in my mind became: Was I always an extrovert who was simply socially stunted?
I didn’t understand my own duplicity in the area until I read the blog post John Scalzi wrote on the subject, Portrait of a Closet Introvert. I could relate and, most important, he defined the reasons I seemed extroverted, but wasn’t.
Introverts recharge alone. Extroverts recharge in social situations. Plan and simple.
It’s not about liking or disliking people or socializing. I love people. It’s just I need a break to think about what happened when I was out with people before I can handle being with them again. I need to turn off the social part of myself and turn on the intellectual, critical part of myself without distraction. I need to write, read or listen to music. Once I am filled up again with those things which make me feel whole, I can face, even enjoy, just about any interpersonal interaction. Okay, not conflict. I’d rather walk in front of a bus.
Kim, our meme host, posted a great article and quiz (scroll down for quiz) about introverts along with her response to the question. I scored 16 out of 20 for introversion. Extroversion was not tested. I tend, in most physiological tests, to score close to the middle so it is possible I would score moderately extroverted where both traits were considered. Still I am certainly more introverted, but a far happier introvert when I have regular socialization.