The vast majority of the time, I enjoy being around people. I’m comfortable in most social situations, enjoy engaging in conversation and have no problem being the centre of attention. I love making other people laugh, quite often speak up in large group meetings and don’t generally shy away from gatherings where there’ll be a lot of people. I can be loud, I can be over the top and I’m not embarrassed to do silly things to raise a smile. If these facts were all you knew about me, I’d hazard a guess that you’d probably classify me as an extrovert. However, after getting to know myself over the past 23 years, I’d most definitely describe myself as the opposite.
At one time I was under the impression that extroversion meant that you loved being around people, and that introversion was the same thing as being shy. So whenever the discussion came up as to ‘what people were’, I’d confidently announce to the group that I was an extrovert. How could I, someone who enjoyed chatting and being social, who loved leading conversation and making others giggle, be an introvert? It didn’t seem possible. Yeah sure, there were a couple of times a month at which I felt an almost crippling desire to be by myself, to curl up in a ball and recharge my batteries without the eyes of other people on me… but, like, that wasn’t really relevant. If I loved people, I was an extrovert. Full stop.
Now though, now I understand what extroversion and introversion actually are, I’ve revised my answer to that ‘what are you?’ question. I’ve come to realise that it’s exactly those moments, the moments of desperately needing to be away from the hum of humanity, that make me an introvert. I love being around people, but they’re not where I pick up my energy. I might like to spend my energy on other people, however a group setting is not where I gather it. My energy is gathered when I’m by myself, doing my own thing, in my own time, at my own pace. Though I love a group, that group will eventually sap my energy away and there’ll come a day where I can think of nothing worse than being around other people.