The Introverted Extrovert

power-of-quiet

On this site we have spoken a bit about introverts and extraverts, we appear to have a fairly healthy combination of both on this site. Personally I have always leaned far towards the extroverted side of life, especially as my reaction to being uncomfortable is actually to get louder.

As a child I was always the loudest person in any room. This meant people would have a very strong reaction to me. Either I was too loud and they wouldn’t like me, or they wanted to be near me because I drew attention and they were able to gain further attention by being near me. The funny part of this was that it usually made those who stuck close to me look better as they, by comparison, were quiet calm people who were able to gather their thoughts and appear wise and sage, while I was running around like I’d had too much green cordial and then put my finger in a power socket.

I remember one new year’s eve in particular, at around 17 years old, lying on a trampoline in the wee hours of the morning talking with someone I’d just met about how the loud me was just a facade, I know people don’t like it but I can’t help it. They told me the person they had met 5 hours prior was not someone they would have ever been confident enough to talk to, but the person lying beside them on the trampoline now was much calmer, kinder and far less intimidating.

I found, as I grew up and became more comfortable in myself and more accepting of myself, I have become less loud. I have “settled down” although I hate the use of the term, and have become more introverted. More comfortable in my own skin. I think at this stage I’ve become an introverted extrovert.

The Viking is the opposite of me. He is an extroverted introvert, someone who is happy to be the centre of attention and commands a room, but would far rather be at home having a quiet evening or out at the pub with a friend or two.

It’s important to surround yourself with people who are like you, and who are the opposite of you. If anything I think people who are the opposite of you are more important. As a society we tend to value the loud, the charismatic, the opinionated, even the arrogant. But it’s a balance that is needed to get things done.

I recently saw this video that illustrates (pun intended) why that combination is so important:

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Are you drawn to people the opposite of you, or similar to you?

  • http://explore.johnanthonyjames.com/ John James

    I think I’m like the Viking too…an extroverted introvert…

    My default setting with people I don’t know is aloof and quiet, but with people I know I can be loud and funny and engaging…but I can be like that with strangers too if I feel like it – it’s just that it takes a lot of energy for me to be extrovert with strangers, whereas when I’m with friends and family, it feels effortless…

    Plus, with me, I think there’s also an element of “I couldn’t be fucked being extroverted” sometimes…what am I, a performing seal? I’m not here for your entertainment!

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      Yes. Dance, baby, dance.

  • Mitchell Osmond

    I’m definitely an extroverted introvert. At school, I was always quiet in large class settings, but in my small group of friends, I was the loudest, arguably the ring leader.

    After school I live overseas for a year where I became more extroverted. I attribute this to being cut off from the world who had known me for 17 years and faced with a whole new set of people who didn’t know me at all – so I broke my own mould for a bit.

    But, in the years since I think I’ve come back down to my extroverted introvert ways. I’ll still be quiet and shy around new people until we’ve spent long enough together to let my extrovert out a little bit. Eventually, I don’t think people would think me to be introverted at all, but I much prefer the quiet life.

  • Jessica Chapman

    I’m an introverted introvert. I wish there was a book of rules on polite conversation with strangers with memorisable conversation starters. If I try to force myself to be social I usually end up babbling and boring everyone to death. My idea of a good friend is someone who I can be comfortable in silence with. That said most of my good friends are very bubbly sociable people, probably because I could never make friends with another introvert because we’d never talk to each other long enough to become friends.

    I think the reason why some people are intimidated by extroverted people is a twinge of jealousy at not being so competent socially. They’re usually focusing on their own short comings than on yours. Or at least that’s how I often feel around extroverts.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I like the idea of you just standing still with someone else, not talking, and then later declaring that you’re friends.

      Think you are spot on with the projected insecurities – I think a lot of comments people make about others are in the same vein.

  • Michelle Austin

    Introverts can still enjoy being the centre of attention and can have good social skills. Of course not all introverts do, just as not all extroverts have good social skills (but they’re not shy about trotting out their bad ones!). Introverts have less need for social interaction so they don’t do it as much. It doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it when they choose it though.

    Putting my ex-psychologist hat on:
    Extroverts crystallise their thoughts by talking them out, enjoy meeting people & seek social gatherings, enjoy a variety of tasks and activities, are stimulated by unanticipated interruptions, prefer to talk impromptu when speaking publicly, contribute a lot at meetings and may act on impulse.

    Introverts crystallise their thoughts by thinking, have less need to meet regularly with others, concentrate on a few tasks at a time, dislike unanticipated interruptions, prepare in depth when speaking publicly, tend to contribute after meetings (after they’ve had time to think) and may reflect deeply before acting.

    For the record, I’m an extrovert but I’m married to an extreme introvert. Anecdotally I hear a lot of that combo!

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      Would 100% agree with you – I think when I was more extroverted than I am now I didn’t have nearly as well developed social skills.

  • Casey

    I was going to write something along the lines of what Michelle wrote above. Extroversion and introversion are about where you get your energy from – are you energised by solitude, or by social interaction? Internal world vs external world?

    I’m a quiet person who hates being the centre of attention and is aloof and reserved with strangers. Like many others on here, I’m louder and more confident when I’m around people I know well. Quiet people are misunderstood too – shyness often comes across as rudeness, and I think it’s difficult for an outgoing person to relate to the thought processes of a shy person and vice versa.

    However, I like being around people in general, and I really need a lot of external stimulation because I start to feel depressed with too much solitude. My best friends have always been much louder and assertive than I and I tend to get along with ‘extroverts’ far more than with quieter people. I’m more likely to strike up a friendship with the louder person in the room than I am to tell them to be quiet!

    I feel energised by being around others, love variety and change, and I love socialising, just with people I know in quiet places. In personality tests, I’m a ‘slightly expressed extrovert’. So it’s a complex issue, and personalities are complicated.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      Sorry if it didn’t come across that way but that’s what I meant when I said introvert and extrovert – as a child I gathered my energy from being the centre of attention, but as I get older I am more contented to be alone and recharge at home in the quiet.

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  • Michelle

    Much of what I have to say has already been said in the other comments (guess that’s what I get for only looking at this a few days later?!)

    There’s an interesting discussion about this topic over here, in an old userfriendly.org discussion board thread: http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/read.cgi?id=20050603&tid=1672201

    One of those comments says:
    At the end of 8 hours of alone time, do you feel (emotionally/mentally) recharged or tired?

    At the end of 8 hours of being around people, do you feel (emotionally/mentally) recharged or tired?

    Whichever one recharges you determines whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. If they both equally recharge/tire you, then you’re smack dab in the middle.

    • http://tamsinhowse.com/blog Tamsin Howse

      I think I’d be tired by 8 hours straight of either of those things!! đŸ˜›