General

“So his friends open restaurants for him?”

The business innovation magazine Fast Company has an “old” (by internet standards) article on “introverts vs. extroverts” that I stumbled on yesterday by accident. The 2013 piece holds that the words are often poorly understood. It notes that most of us are likely closer to being an ambivert – which falls “midway” between the extremes.

It goes on to explain what we all display are greater tendencies towards one or the other personality-extreme. We are either more of an introvert or more of an extrovert. No “sane” person is fully an introvert or fully an extrovert.

It offered these summations. I took a moment and pondered them. Based on these, if you deal with me, I believe I am much more these personality traits:

And far less of these:

So I am more of an introvert. I suppose, as a writer, being more introverted is reasonable. You have to be comfortable being with yourself.

But that is hardly universal, of course. My uncle’s 78th birthday would have been this week. Although a novelist he was in my opinion far more of an extrovert. For example, he once actually did this with me:

[Excerpt from Passports. On Kindle for iPad. Click to expand.]

Are you more of an introvert or more of an extrovert? I’d always suspected I was more introverted, and a degree of self-awareness about that is invaluable. For instance, someone more introverted will probably find the absence of privacy in an “open plan” office – which is the common workplace nowadays – more inherently stressful and unpleasant than someone who is more extroverted.

I know now I will always miss them, but there are times I extra-miss both my uncle and my mother (both of whom died two weeks apart in October 2015 – by far the worst month of my life thus far). Whenever I had found myself unable to speak to anyone else, I felt I could speak to them – importantly even shout at them. I realize now it was a mental release of sorts; if something was bothering me, I could let loose on them.

Looking at that introvert list, one jumps out at me in that context. There are those times I feel I do need to talk without being interrupted. And while my mother was not nearly as good at allowing me to do that as my uncle (I often had to shout over her to try to finish a thought because she had started talking herself and wouldn’t shut up), I knew I could speak my mind to them without censoring myself.

[Moon over London. Photo by me, 2018.]

I long for that freedom of expression I enjoyed with them, but that is gone and unlikely ever to be replaced. They provided “punching bags” allowing me to vent. When they were around, I never truly appreciated quite how “lonely” it can feel when we are unable to offload to others without restraint.

Absent them, I find writing is now more important than ever. Not only writing novels, but writing on this blog is helpful. Indeed in that sense social media can be quite a positive in our lives.

[Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun. (French, 1755–1842.) Self portrait, 1781/2. Public domain. Wikipedia.]

Social media is sometimes just a new platform for doing what we have always done in other ways. Consider, say, our ubiquitous Instagram “selfies.” They are essentially much like the self-portraits artists once regularly painted.

One would think social media would be better-suited to the more extroverted. Yet I suspect it is also full of us more introverted types. If used properly, it is well-geared to us.

It allows us to engage with those of similar interests. It grants us as much privacy as we want; we may even seek to remain anonymous if we wish. And it provides us with the ability to share our thoughts and feelings in an ordered manner and without interruption.

Have a good Monday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂

3 replies »

  1. Hi, R. J.

    First, I enjoyed reading this article (post? Blog? How do you prefer to call it?). It touches home in several ways. I’ll get to that in a moment.

    But second, I wanna say I’m surprised at myself for not spending more time on your blog. Truly, I’m sorry. You’ve always been a good writer and interesting fellow and I reading your posts. I’ll try to make up for this by going back and playing catch up. I imagine it’ll take a while, but I expect I’ll enjoy the experience.

    Alright, now back to the business of this article.

    I don’t like being pigeon-holed or stereotyped in any way. So I generally tend not to categorize myself as “this or that.” Even so, I will say that I’m probably both an introvert and extrovert pretty evenly. I’m generally just as comfortable hanging around large, boisterous crowds in vast, open spaces as I am retreating to small, intimate settings or even being entirely by myself. I vacillate between both ends of the spectrum because I have a need for both intermittently.

    Unlike some people I’m sure, I go crazy if I’m compelled to reside in one situation or type of environment for too long. If I’m alone or inside a closed space for too long, I start crawling out of my skin (like I’m starting to feel right now actually – can’t wait to finish writing this so I can stop outside for some fresh air in a minute). Conversely, once I’ve topped off my hunger for social interaction or outdoor adventure, I quickly feel an overriding desire to pull back from pretty much everybody and retire for a while to my “cave.”

    I guess technically as you said, R. J., this classifies as an ambivert.

    In any case, this latter tendency somewhat explains why I sometimes drop off the face of the [social media] Earth. Everyone deals with pressure and stress different. I’m the sort that the heavier things get, the more I shut down lines of communication – kind of like a turtle that retreats back into his shell to protect himself. Another reason however can also be attributed to my extroversion. Sometimes (like the entirety of this year so far), I’m just really busy. Unfortunately, a lot of recent activity hasn’t been of my choosing or liking.

    I hope March will be better. I believe it will.

    I feel like i have more to say, but like I said, I’m feeling antsy. Going for that walk and then back to work.

    Have a great day!

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