Portrait of a Closet Introvert
Posted on May 31, 2009 Posted by John Scalzi 87 Comments
I was very recently asked if there was something that I knew about myself that no one else believes when I tell them. I suspect that the question was meant to elicit a confession that I was born with twelve toes, or that I get sexually aroused in the presence of yogurt (neither of which, incidentally, is true, I swear), or something along that line, so I sort of blew off the question at the time. That said, the question’s been lingering with me for a few days, primarily because there is something about me that I know is true, which (almost) no one else believes about me, and that is that I am an introvert.
The reason almost no one believes it is because I quite admittedly exhibit the signs of being a shameless extrovert: I’m very social, I don’t get lost or withdrawn in large groups, I handle public appearances and performances adeptly and in general I give the impression of enjoying being around people, including people I don’t know particularly well. That’s pretty textbook extroversion right there.
Naturally I admit to all the above. I do like people, I do enjoy myself in social situations, I like meeting new folks and (if I may say so) I’m pretty well socialized for someone who is both a writer and a geek. I’m not faking my generally sociable nature. But I think there’s a difference between playing well with others, and genuine extroversion, in which being with other people is energizing to that person. As much as I like people and being with them, I’m not energized by them; sooner or later I turn into a pumpkin and go off to have time by myself, in order to recenter and hit the “reset” button, and to be presentable to other human beings once more. Which is to say the way I energize is to spend time by myself, which is a classic introvert thing.
I’ve always known this about myself, but the event that really brought it home to me was the book tour I did for The Last Colony. I had a great time doing the readings and signings in meeting people, but the moment I was done with the last bit, I was done. I had friends who saw me on the tour and a number of them remarked on the fact of how dazed I was after an event. It was true, and it wasn’t just because I was tired; it was because I was peopled out. For me, doing an event like that is the human interaction equivalent of mainlining three king-sized Snickers bars: Yes, I’m on, but then, wow. Sugar crash.
There’s a similar thing that goes on with me at science fiction conventions, particularly when I’m a Guest of Honor; during the day if I’m not on a panel or have some other commitment I’m often in my hotel room in order to conserve my sociability for scheduled events and for evening partying and hanging out. It’s not to say I have to force myself into being a social person — as noted before I do actually like being sociable and partying, it’s one reason I do so much of it. It’s more of being aware of what my own limits and needs are. If I don’t get a certain amount of alone time, I get cranky. And that’s not good for anyone.
This is why, incidentally, living out in the middle of nowhere in rural Ohio is not actually a hardship for me. My geographically closest close friend is about an hour away; on a day-to-day basis I just don’t get out much to see anyone. How do I feel about that? Just fine, thanks. Being alone works for me; I get writing done, I get thinking done, and generally speaking I keep myself suitably amused. I really like seeing my friends when I see them, and I wish I saw them more (including the one just an hour from me). But I’m not going stir-crazy out here in the sticks. It suits my temperament well.
Also, you know: hi, people coming to my blog. Thanks for providing me daily low-impact fraternization. The Internet was made for introverts, I suspect. In all, I’m covered on a day-to-day basis.
So, yes: Introvert. You might not see it when you meet me. But it’s there.
I suspect that the question was meant to elicit a confession that I was born with twelve toes, or that I get sexually aroused in the presence of yogurt (neither of which, incidentally, is true, I swear)
That’s a curiously specific denial you know…
Thank you for explaining this. Not to be lame, but this is me as well, and I’ve never been able to explain why I consider myself an introvert but am able to be *on* when around other people. Until, of course, I glaze over and am over it and zone people out to the point that I seem rude.
When taking the good old Myers-Briggs I always fell near the dividing line of extrovert and introvert, usually coming in a point or two on the extrovert side. I definitely experience the “conservation of sociability” thing you were talking about, where I can only spend a certain amount of time with people before I just need to go somewhere and be alone for a while.
At the same time, when social situations are going well I do feel like I gain energy from them. I haven’t thought about that particular difference before. It makes sense, especially for people who are sort of on the cusp.
Yes! And Amen!
I’m the same way – I can socialize – but my recharge time only happens when I’m alone.
Yeah, on the M-B I’m an INTP, although I’m damn near center on all the axes. I’m highly suspicious of how people use the MB test in evaluating themselves, since for a while I think they were the nerd equivalent of a horoscope (“You’re an INTP? I’m an INTP too! Let’s have sex!”), but I don’t suspect that’s the fault of the test itself.
“I suspect that the question was meant to elicit a confession that I was born with twelve toes, or that I get sexually aroused in the presence of yogurt (neither of which, incidentally, is true, I swear)
That’s a curiously specific denial you know…”
I guess we’ll have to take your word about the yogurt but we’ll reserve judgment on the toe thing until we can actually see a picture of your bare feet.
Good grief, I think we were separated at birth. (Well, except for that hat.) You’ve described exactly how I handle signings and conventions. I love people–I love the social gathering. I look forward to seeing them. I just absolutely have to go have some down time or else by the end of the con, I’d be an incoherent mess.
Hm… I’m much the same way. In part, I think many of us will recognize some parts of ourselves in the descriptions of introvert and extrovert – few people genuinely fall at either extreme I suspect. And I imagine that many of the regular visitors here will see some of themselves in your self-description due to selection bias.
Now, when are you coming to Seattle to party? :)
YES! So many people don’t believe me when I try to tell them this. Maybe they’ll believe you instead.
Always nice to see another Introvert come out of the closet. :)
A lot of the time when I tell people I’m an Introvert they think I mean that I am anti-social or a misathrope. Neither of these things could be farther from the truth, but
my extrovert friends and coworkers have a hard time understanding that socializing is a lot like work for me ( even if I am having a wonderful time)
I think a big part of this is that the introvert/extrovert polarity doesn’t describe the way that people socialize very well. There’s a whole mess of different reactions and tendencies that go into this stuff. Although I do think of myself as an anti-social extrovert.
I’d much rather address an audience than meet new people. If I go to long without either socialization or solitary time I get buggy. Sometimes I suffer from social anxiety bordering on the phobic; sometimes I’m the life of the party.
I’m like the statistician who slept with his head in the oven and his feet in the freezer and was comfortable on the average.
And my MB is either INFJ or INTP — although I mistrust both of those because I wind up picking the multiple-choice answers I least disagree with, rather than ones that are accurate.
I’m going to point people to this blog post whenever they want to argue that I’m an extrovert. I’m introverted in much the same way as you, and learned years ago that the true test of introvert/extrovert is, as you put it, what recharges me. I deal well with people, but only so many, and only for so long. Then I have to go into my cave and roll the rock back in front of it.
Romeo, I think you missed something:
This is a surprise?
Taping bacon to one’s cat does not exactly indicate an extroverted nature.
Neither does… coconuts (you know, brown and hairy on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside).
And if I had a wife like that I’d be pretty “introverted” (or at least homebound!) too… ;-)
Finally, an understandable explanation as to why you live in the middle of nowhere, ohio……
From the you-knew-this-was-coming dept:
Gee, I didn’t know they had bacon-flavored yogurt!
Is it surprising that I do not find this surprising?
I remember being on a two-full-day job interview (campus visit for academic job). They tried to give me a little break from meeting people and being interviewed before the final dinner. I said “no, please, keep talking to me, because once I stop, I will be DOWN.”
I’m the same way, and it’s make me very cautious about planning events. Especially during academic conferences — it’s one reason why after the afternoon talks, I’m going to maybe get dinner with friends, then go sit in my room and read or surf the net. I should be networking more, but I’m too drained from talking during coffee breaks and possibly giving my own talk. (Fan conventions are the same way — except for the Masquerade, my evening activities usually consist of finding a quiet spot to read or draw.)
My little brother is also like that, but part of that is his autism — constantly having to be social takes a lot more focus for him than it would a non-autistic. Consequently, he or my mother are careful to plan a place for him to get out during family gatherings, and make it clear to others why sometimes he needs to go in the other room and play video games. (For that matter, considering I have Asperger’s Syndrome, I can’t rule out that this doesn’t affect me as well.)
Small gatherings of friends and family are, of course, different. That and my friends and I had mastered the ‘alone time together’, where we’re all in the same room, occasionally talking, but working on different things. (It’s a lot how I talk to them on the internet, or watching TV with my mother, or drawing with my little brother.)
I get this, too. People remember having seen me talking to “everybody” at cons. They don’t remember–because why would they? they weren’t there–that I was in my room for an hour in the afternoon and an hour after dinner trying to regenerate enough sociability to get through the rest of the day and postpone my con crash until the end of the weekend.
Yeah, nobody believes me when I tell them I’m an introvert either. But then, I live inside my head and they can, at most, just pop ’round for a short visit.
Also, I’m really good at speaking in public and teaching, but that doesn’t mean I want to be your leader.
“Romeo, I think you missed something:
So? He could still have seven toes on the other foot.
This is a lot more common than people think. For instance, a huge amount of professional Actors are Introvert-Extroverts, in some way it’s part of the job.
#24: We can’t even be sure that either of those feet is his.
Well, from what I remember of my psychology classes, you *are* very much the classic introvert. It is a mistake to conflate “introvert” with “shy”. The classic definition, going back to Jung, is that an introvert is someone who recharges by being alone while an extrovert is someone who recharges by being with people. This really says little about how good people are at interacting in social situations.
So yeah, lots of introverts can be social, give speeches, be the center of attention, etc. But do they eventually need “down time”? That is the key question.
I doubt there are many writers who are true extroverts as writing is necessarily a job that requires lots and lots of time alone.
Any time you see the word “reclusive” applied to an actor, you can bet he or she is an introvert.
Another introvert who sometimes seems extrovert here.
What I really want to know is, did you keep your balance after that shot? Were you walking the plank or what?
This is totally me. I can lawyer it up all day, but ugh, I’m beat when I’m done.
In fact I have excellent balance, and am (still) weirdly limber.
@12 Sean: I was a long term skeptic of MB sort of things, but went through a big career shift a while back and was encouraged to do some testing/career counseling — very helpful, actually, and made me buy into the test as a bit more than personality horoscope thing — but remember that the MB test doesn’t try to test you for whether the answers are really YOUR preferred answer, but that folks who are of a certain stripe (E v. I, P v. J) tend to answer that particular question in that particular way.
I’ve got the same thing with groups, except I absolutely cannot have a discussion with someone in a one-on-one situation. The only exceptions are if the situation is work related or if I have a specific, non-personal reason to be speaking with them, that gives a boundary to the conversation. Even then it’s pretty bad.
I get this weird thing where I panic at grocery stories, and my hands get all sweaty when I go up to pay. Then if they say hi to me, it gets even worse because my mind simultaneously wants my mouth to say “How are you?” “How you doing” “What’s up?” and “Hey!”
It usually comes out as “Hidgeritadoo.”
I’ve heard that there are three types of fen:
-Introverts who compensate, and
-Introverts who overcompensate.
me, I fall somewhere between 2 and 3, depends on the day. I *can* draw energy from being around other people, but they have to be people I know well and feel comfortable around.
My SO Jeff, on the other hand, is a shy extrovert. Which means he spends a lot of time working in coffee shops when he’s working ‘from home’, as being all alone just sucks the life right out of him.
I consider myself gregarious but reserved. Which is to say: yes to all of the above, and if I don’t get my quiet time, someone’s gonna get hurt. Nom nom nom.
Oh, yes, this post totally hits home for me. I’m a Closet Introvert, too.
I’m a total introvert pretty much all the time. I got made fun of a lot in high school (and now that I’m in college) because of it. My high school was extremely focused on sports as is my college (go KU!). I love going to sporting events, but about ten minutes in I just start yawning my head off because being around all those people just zaps everything I have. Of course, then the people around me feel the need to comment on my yawning and how I’m “not enjoying the game” or something.
However, at conventions, I’m a complete extrovert (as you probably noticed). I can last the entire weekend without any recharge time at all. This normally means, though, that once I get home I stay in my house for a week doing nothing but sleeping and keeping to myself.
As most geeks are rather introverted… of course the Internet was made by and for introverts! So, does this mean we’re starting an IA (Introverts Anonymous) chapter? “Hi, my name is Eric, I’m an introvert.” Though I don’t think these meetings will go anywhere simply because it’d be hard to get some of the more introverted to stand up in a meeting and do that. Oh well, the ramblings of an Internet denizen (which oddly allows me to me much more extrovert than I really am)
I suspect there will be quite a few “Me, too!” replies to this entry. Including this one.
After reading Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person I became more aware of my need to periodically place myself in a less-than-stimulating environment. I’ve even been known to deliberately schedule several hours to do Absolutely Nothing.
I’m better than I used to be about meeting people, but I’m a touch awkward at introducing myself because I hate feeling like I’m interrupting people.
I’m able to do outlandish things in a performance context because there’s that intangible barrier between self and audience that protects me in a strange sort of way.
I know exactly what Scalzi’s talking about. I’m always calling myself an extraverted introvert.
I was a shy introvert until I got my first job at 19, now I’m a social introvert. My coworkers are always puzzled that I turn down invites to everything outside work. I even maintain I have no interest in World of Warcraft because it is a socially based game and the last thing I need is more people expecting my time and attention.
After all, I love talking to customers, in meetings and training, at break and lunch. What they don’t get is my off time is by invitation only. A very short list of my nearest and dearest get an invite. And even they are not welcomed 24/7. I need a few hours a week were I’m alone with myself and books or TV or writing or music. Without that time, anxiety wins out and I’m uncentered.
wow..as said alot of “me too”
I always think of myself along two theatrical lines
1) All That Jazz..Bob Fosse clone “It’s Showtime”
2) Once upon a Mattress, Princess Winifred (Carol Burnett) “I’ve always been SHY!!!”
After a con, I have to avoid people for a few days, and eat very bland food…Maybe we should have a con for closet introverts…
And I’m going to remember “peopled out”; I’ve never come across that phrase and it’s spot on.
Sounds like me too.
I’ll get a little dazed at an event, and wander off to a quieter corner. Eventually the host will come by, trying not to be concerned, and ask if I’m having a good time. I assure them I am, and mention getting more food or beverage, or admiring a piece of artwork, something benign that will redirect the attention away from me. Then I’ll spot someone I want to talk with and go socialize a little more. Comes from a period of my life where I had panic attacks in crowds.
When I’m at a week-long convention, I prefer to room by myself. This year, due to budget constraints, I’m rooming with some friends. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love these folks and have roomed with them on and off for years, but it means I don’t have a private place I can go to recharge. So I’ll be a little cranky at times. And by the time I get back home will have precious little time to myself before I have to be at work on that Monday morning and be civil to my coworkers.
And John, for the record, when I met you last year in Atlanta, you played well with the rest of the panel at the Decatur Book Festival.
Not too long ago, a friend who is a retired psychotherapist called me a “High Function Introvert”.
I have the same issue. On those personality sorter tests I tend to come up right on the line between introvert and extrovert. I’ll work a tech conference and honestly enjoy it but when I’m done for the day I’m fried and done. Even calling room service seems too social then.
Like you, I live in the boonies, though more small town than rural. And like you, it suits me just fine!
Great post! It really does encapsulate how I feel being an introvert. People don’t understand when I try to explain this. Thanks for saying it better than I ever could.
I never suspected otherwise. There’s something about your more personal entries which screams it out loud.
On the other hand, I can see why people could think otherwise. Successful people have a tendency to appear extrovert; extroverts have a tendency to appear successful. The two kind of get associated with each other.
I’ll add my “me too” to the others. People think that since I am a therapist and a popular trainer and conference presenter in my state that I must be a naturally social person. They think I’m joking when I start calling myself an anti-social worker and think that spending weekends up on the Appalachian Trail is pure recreation rather than required emotional recharging.
I think I’m going start sending this post as a link to people who make that comment…
Well, hello fellow traveler!
I too like being around people, but find it draining nonetheless.
One of the things I like most about being a history professor is that it involves long periods of alone time punctuated by periodic stage performances and forced social interaction so that I don’t just sit and be alone. My idea of the ideal job – I love both sides of it.
What You Said. Yeah. The internet is perfect for me. I can be extroverted and noisy, and then be alone and quiet to recharge when I need to be.
I’m consistantly INTJ
Me too, to pretty much the exact same degree John described.
The trouble is, when I’m a GoH at a convention, part of the quid pro quo for the flights and the room and board is that I’m there to be accessible to folks who wouldn’t otherwise get to see me. And I tend to take my public seriously. So I end up overdoing things. If you ever wondered why I wasn’t around for the Saturday night parties at midnight, it’s probably because I’m in my room with a pillow over my head. And if you come up to talk to me after a signing or a long speech or reading and I look a bit glassy-eyed and incommunicative, that’s also a sign of overload.
Me too, of fifty-two…..
A recent innjury, followed by surgery, brought my sister to live with me in order to assist me. While I am eternally grateful for her assistance, the day when I could be by myself caused great rejoicing. The only thing which kept me from dancing in the streets was the knowledge that I’d be right back on bed rest.
I mean, it’s possible to be an actor but be introverted. I think a great many of us like our ideas MORE than we like raves . . . not I don’t love me a party. But there’s something to the reason John and Charlie became authors: aptitude, inclination, and it doesn’t drain them like people do.
As for me, I’m a tax lawyer . . . who works for . . . insurance agents. If you don’t think that’s not two sides of the coin . . . my job used to entail a three day meeting with those guys. It was fun as all hell but at the end you felt like you’d been on a friendly interview for the whole 3 days. Well, that and the hangovers . . . . them boys and girls can drink . . .
I can grok that. Makes all kinds of sense.
Much like many here have said. Wooo, scary consipiracy or something.
Yup, the Internet is for Introverts. We get to choose who to socialize with, and how much we want to socialize.
And on days like yesterday when I was ->||<- this close to being the legendary fiend with axe who slays six, I can make jokes about it on Twitter. That way I let off steam to people without actually having to BE AROUND them.
A 2003 article by Jonathan Rauch on the care and feeding of introverts.
I sure wish the “Introverts’ Rights revolution” mentioned in the sidebar would catch on in my area. Not a day goes by that I’m not harangued by someone incapable of comprehending 99% of the time, I really, truly, and for honest would be quite content without companionship.
Seems to me you’re not a closet introvert. You’re just a plain ole Introvert. No disrespect intended – the woods are full of us, and it doesn’t carry the social stigma it once did.
We’re the people of whom it was written “Hell is an eternity surrounded by your closest friends.” this is not because we are ambivalent about our friends; we adore and esteem them. We spend very pleasant hours in their company.
But if we couldn’t then go home and sit quietly for a few hours, we’d be like overstimulated two-year-olds, only (in my case, at least) not nearly as polite or reasonable.
I am very fortunate, because most of my friends are also introverts – we know, for example, not to go away fro a weekend together unless we can be sure of some time when we are alone and beholden to no-one.
I’m probably the same except with a harsher edge, which is to say, I hit a point with the social thing–particularly at conferences–what I think of as my Bruce Banner/Hulk phase that goes something like, “You need to let me be alone now, because if I keep being around people, you won’t like me when I’m around people.”
And then I turn green and start tearing the shit out of everything. Really, it’s pretty satisfying, but it’s not conducive to repeat invitations.
Me… 56th, apparently, at least of the time of this writing. Seems normalish for people on the internets to be introverted but social; my friends who are extroverts (true extroverts) are rarely online (unless it involves work).
I’ve never thought about it that way but now that you’ve put it into words… interesting.
I often tell people that I’m an introvert, and that I like being a hermit. They say it can’t be true. I get up in front of audiences and am able to get them to laugh, to engage, etc. (even if this isn’t necessarily my aim — but I do often play class clown). This is how I define it: I turn myself on to “perform” (read papers at conferences, get in front of classes, whatever requires public interaction). As soon as it is done, though, I need time to decompress. I am energized by the quiet, away-from-people time, not by being with them. Too much time with people, and I turn off. It exhausts me.
I’ve recently moved to a city and find it exhausting (I had previously owned a home out in the country, away from others). Too many people.
I envy you in your place away from people. Really.
I have a number of introvert friends and one of my introvert friends remarked that I’m the one that gets them to meet each other –otherwise they wouldn’t have as many friends. I would describe myself as an introvert but I appear to require less alone time than my friends do to re-energize. I think my ease in dealing with others that are more introverted is because that pretty much describes the rest of my family. My husband is more of an introvert than I am but he loves to dress in costumes and perform. Apparently many performers are introverts. The key there is that when they are acting, they are in control (or at least feel as if they are in control).
Thanks for this. I’ll be showing it to the people who don’t believe me when I tell them I’m shy.
Nah, I’m not surprised. People think I’m introverted, but I suspect I actually have a touch of social anxiety disorder. Me socializing in a reserved manner at a con is pretty much equivalent to your karaoke night.
I am in general dissatisfied with the “what gives you energy” definition of introversion/extroversion. I’m not sure it’s true. I rather suspect that the whole spectrum has been deconstructed to the point that it doesn’t mean very much anymore. However, I still believe you, and the reason is not that you need to go rest in your hotel room to recharge before you put on pirate clothes and sing “tainted love” in front of 200 people. The reason is–well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? ;-)
John does not have twelve toes. He does, however, have six fingers, and is hunted by a spaniard, a giant, and the man in black.
One of my wedding photos is me (the bride) collapsing in a chair in a room, alone. Because even at my own wedding–perhaps especially at my own wedding–I needed a moment to recharge without people all around me.
”You’re an INTP? I’m an INTP too! Let’s have sex!”
This line has never worked for me.
Wow. I could have written exactly that.
I am the exact same thing. I am an introvert by nature, but someone who’s learned – well, really been forced to learn – how to be extroverted and sociable. (Not a fun thing to have to learn). And I also get “people’d out” after a while and have to go home, be by myself, and recharge (reading, Internet, videogames, etc.). This despite the fact that I’m good at speaking extemporaneously and love to debate and argue, which I will end up doing for a living as a lawyer. It does feel a bit like I’m wearing a “mask” and pretending to be something I’m not. And that is a real drain on the body and the mind. I cannot count how many times I’ve just up and bailed on optional events because I felt
drained. It’s something I have to work at.
To be honest, I thought I was a freak or had some kind of personality disorder. It is good to know I am not the only one out there like this, and that it is perfectly normal. I guess that’s the beauty of the internet, and especially anonymity on the internet.
Thanks for that, John.
In addition to authors, lawyers, and actors, supervillain seems to be another common career path for introverts.
@50 Vicki: I’m borderline INTP/INTJ too, depending on the day of the week and the phases of the moon. (This is not a proposition, either.)
@51 Charles Stross: I also know what it’s like to “overdo” things. And how much the piper demands the next morning. After some big events, I can sleep for 12 or more hours!
Ah, yes. I recognize this; I like to call it “high-functioning introversion,” which I stole from the AA people. It seems appropriate, and might explain the apparent, inordinate alcoholism among writers. Aren’t most, if not all, writers introverts? I’ve always wondered if some types of writers could be so introverted that spending time with their own characters is difficult. I feel that sometimes, myself, so perhaps I’m only projecting: I’m starting to feel that the reason I mostly write short stories is that the characters start to make me panic, and I want them to *just go away.* Doesn’t do much for finishing that novel, though.
”You’re an INTP? I’m an INTP too! Let’s have sex!”
This line has never worked for me.
Me either. Although I did hear of a workplace seminar going completely off the rails when an ENS(very)J manager was helpfully informed by the facilitator that he needed “less J-ness and more P-ness.”
I’m the odd one out here – I am totally the opposite. I’m an extrovert, I get my energy from other people. I’m not a fan of working alone, and problem-solving alone is my worst skill. I need someone to bounce ideas off and get feedback from. That said, when I was younger I was also really shy, so came across as very quite and introverted. People were surprised how much I seemed to change when I got more confidence, and now I’d never be the wallflower or need a break from people.
The “do you recharge alone or with others?” question sounds to me like it could use some qualification. I suspect that many of us that are generally introverted have some person or small set of persons at various times in our lives that *do* recharge us, most of the time, even while most other people don’t.
For me right now, for instance, that set generally includes my spouse. She’s “home” for me, and I usually prefer to recharge alone with her, as opposed to alone completely by myself..
I’m sure there are other couples where the partners need more completely-alone time, and love their spouses just as much– it’s a difference in personality, not a difference in one’s commitment. And there are other folks who have a larger “home” circle that also includes certain close friends and family, as well as others who mostly need to be completely alone to recharge.
My wife informed me that I really am an introvert, too, which is funny because I also am extremely talkative.
I think an introvert with attention-deficit disorder is a bad combination, but it’s my cross to bear. Beats the hell out of missing limbs and blindness.
INTPs in the general population: 3%
INTPs among Whatever readers: 97%…
The “I’m an INTP, let’s have sex!” line only works on INFPs. Sorry.
I’m another of those folks right at the 50th %ile on the E/I line, to the point that my test results will flip depending on my living circumstances. When I lived alone, I sometimes tested as an ENTP, and as an INTP when I live with other people. In fact, I discovered a truth about myself at the tail end of a long visit from my inlaws:
Cranky is the opposite of lonely.
There’s a good skill an former therapist taught me , which was how to measure my emotional gas gauge, and know when I’m tapping in to my reserves. It works for the introversion/extroversion axis. pretty well.
Also, I concur with John Mark Ockerbloom. Not every introvert is always drained by people, and not every extrovert is always charged up by all gatherings. As an extrovert, some gatherings *can* be draining, and sometimes I need to be on my own to fill that part of my emotional fuel tanks.
There needs to be a term for those of us who fall into this category. “Stealth Introvert”? “Entrovert”? (Maybe “Ixtrovert” for that SFnal reference…)
Another vote for Ixtrovert
I’ll chime in with another “me too” post.
In a meeting, we got to swapping M-B classifications. I said I was consistently an INTJ, every time I took the test. One of the other folks flat refused to believe it. “You can’t be an introvert. You’re a great public speaker.”
Introvert does not automatically mean shy and antisocial. As John said, it means that social interactions, while often lots of fun and enjoyable, are also draining. For me, the “alone time” afterwards is essential.
Performing can be a introverted heaven. A deeply introverted child will learn early on to ‘perform’ for family and the world around them (unfortunately, introversion is still often a stigma), and so it’s easy to get inside your own head and show the audience what you want them to see.
I know that I’ve always wanted to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and so writing/performing is one way to do that.
I wonder though, how many introverts actually find larger groups easier to deal with than smaller and more intimate groups? The larger the group, the better it is, but the harder I crash afterwards!
Hooray for closet introverts! Although I think that I’m more like two different people: quiet and thoughtful in crowds and a chatterbox with my friends.
This quote says it best: “Everyone thinks I’m a quiet person. My friends only wish that were true.”
WELL SAID! You write beautifully.
Have you considered writing a book about this topic? You really do have a way with words..It’s as though your writing is balanced…and I actually get a painted picture in my head of all that you are saying.
I use to harness every trait of introvrsion, i had a small circle of friends that i would mostly spend time with playing videogames and watching movies. but eventualy i been exposed to people enough that I became more energetic, lively, and eventualy came to liking people. I realized that by social behavior can greatly depend on what mood im in.
@20: I’m glad that someone mentioned Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism Spectrum Disorders are very common, compared to baseline population, in the Silicon Valley, Space program, and Science Fiction communities in which I’m active. Also, among Professors (as I’ve been in Academe in many capacities).
Importantly, ASD has a major genetic component. When people with Asperger’s marry other people with Asperger’s, their children are even more likely than baseline to have Autism Spectrum Disorders. This is well known in Silicon Valley and at JPL, where people get all Conspiracy Theory about why nothing is being done about an Epidemic.
This is not funny. Though my friends with ASD and I have had many laughs together, which left mundanes baffled.
Everyone forgets Ames. JPL gets all the glory. *sigh*
As you are a writer to me it seems more likely that you’d be an introvert than not. I can pass for an extrovert in the right kind of situations, but then I need some serious quiet time afterwards.
I read a book in which a violinist said that he needed 2/3 hours to himself for every hour spent with people. I really get that.
But it’s really interesting that some social situations drain me and others do not. If I’m a networking event, I’m more likely to get drained as I’m putting on a persona and keeping that up is tiring. I’m acting a part.
If I go on a personal development retreat, then i find that I’m a lot more sociable and energised, because I’m with like minded folks and feel that I can be myself and that is energising.
So I wonder if the labelling of all social situations being draining for introverts is correct. It feels as though it depends how authentic I feel safe being.