I love my bed. I like to watch TV and listen to music. I like to drive by myself (mostly so I can sing as loud and as obnoxiously as I want). Some days, I don’t even want to leave the house. But I am an extrovert. There seems to be a widespread misconception that extroverts like people and introverts do not. Extroverts are supposed to be the life of the party with a million friends, always ready to hit the town, or something. And introverts are supposed to be isolated homebodies who sneer at the notion of fun. But while that may be the case for a select few, it is generally not true.
The distinction between the two personalities types lies in the source from which people draw their energy. Introverts do not hate people. But being in a social situation tends to drain them so that they need some alone time to recuperate. For extroverts, on the other hand, being around people energizes them so that they don’t feel the lows until the people are gone. Of course there are certain implications which come with both of these traits but the stereotypes are largely incorrect. If I stay in from a party to veg in my pajamas and watch Netflix all day, that may make me lazy, but it does not make me any less of an extrovert.
All the Internet articles and quizzes on the subject just reinforce the misconceptions. It’s all: “Introverts will relate to these tweets about wanting to die alone.” They seem to work under the assumption that introverts are boring curmudgeons. But as someone whose best friend is a self-proclaimed introvert, I can assure you that this is absolutely not true. My best friend, Sarah’s, favorite thing to do is listen to other people and she is always up for (almost) any crazy idea. But we balance each other out. Introverts and extroverts have equal strengths and drawbacks and I highly recommend finding an opposite to pull you back or draw you out when needed.
Because while I just spent the last few paragraphs denying the stereotypes, I definitely sometimes fall into those very same stereotypes. The classic introvert “flaws” sound nice. I would like to feel free to turn down an invitation somewhere or not jump at every opportunity that has even the slightest potential for interaction. But I am apparently a slave to my own extrovert ways. I get caught up in conversations which really should be boring but end up being an exciting chance to take another step in a friendship or see what other interactions it might lead to. Sure, these may not sound like inherently bad things, but it’s a problem when this happens all the time. Because in reality, sometimes a conversation is just a conversation and not a game with right moves and high stakes.
My own little introvert (aka Sarah) does a good job of reminding me of this when she can. Sometimes she doesn’t get a chance. No matter how many times I tell myself otherwise, I cannot escape the idea of “the more people, the better.” This way of thinking often leads to a text chain where I invite everyone I know to join us for every plan we have ever made in our lives. And then I stress out about coordinating all the dozens of people I’ve invited to a nonevent like a trip to Starbucks. So she has to be fast if she wants to avert me from this little habit and prevent an inevitably awkward crisis.
But I also see the good influence which I have on Sarah. When I want to go somewhere just to find some other human beings, I push her to step out of her comfort zone. People always think that she is shy which could not be farther from the truth. Trust me, that girl shouts more than she talks. But people only have this misconception because she distances herself. But I try to encourage her to put in that extra energy to show her true self. Just as she encourages me to dedicate some of my extra energy to the small moments that are more meaningful than being in a crowd. Introvert or extrovert, everyone needs a good friend to give a new perspective and clean up the messes which we make for ourselves…And each other.