Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Hidden Introvert

I said to Luke last spring that I thought it was time I went to find the hidden introvert in me. He laughed and said something about that being redundant.

Most writers are introverts by nature. I’m an extrovert. At least that’s what I’ve thought all these years. Yet events occurred last year that made me look at that assumption and reconsider what I’d taken as truth.

Maybe I’d spent a whole lot of energy trying to be an extrovert, when really I’m not. Maybe I’m an actor who’s really good at pretending to be one. After all, I was a painfully shy child, and I still think of myself as awfully self-conscious.

The best definitions of those terms I’ve come across are those of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator. It says that, under stress, extroverts need to talk out their problems, while introverts need to think them through. That talking versus thinking thing could be just where I let myself get mislead. There might be other reasons why I want to talk things out . . . Perhaps the talking that I do is not the extrovert’s need to find out what I’m thinking, but the fact that I find people incomprehensible, and I need a translator in order to think things through.

I know my social skills are learned and not natural talents. Otherwise I wouldn’t get things wrong so often. I've worked too hard to get the social skills I know I've got for them to be natural. I also know that things I say sound like the words of introverts. I say things like “Life would be so much easier if no people were involved.” On the other hand, I’m saying that, not thinking it.

The extrovert things I really like all involve me being in charge of the microphone. That puts me in control of the talking.

Extroverts often think introverts are witless, because they don’t jump in a conversation with their ideas. Introverts think extroverts are intellectually frivolous, because they don’t think before they speak. Everyone has both, but prefers one over the other, especially in times of stress or important work. Still I wonder whether I’ve trained myself to work against my nature, to be an extrovert when my introvert needed more space?

Could that be why I go blind after meetings? Does that explain how cranky I get when people interrupt me constantly with stupid, little detailed things that they should be able to figure out on their own and not have to bother me with when I'm in the middle of a problem I'm trying to solve in my head? Er. Ahem.

I’m going to have to think about this.
Silly me. I thought the answer was hidden.
—me strauss Letting me be


mergrl said...

Still I wonder whether I’ve trained myself to work against my nature, to be an extrovert when my introvert needed more space?

(nods head in that yeah I can relate way)

excellent post my friend (hugs)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Trace,
It's something to think about isn't it. Of course, half the time I don't know whether I'm coming or going so how should I tell?

Bluesky_Liz said...

It depends. It's true that probably no one is really one or the other all the time.

I used to think that talking things out would solve any problem. Now I think it depends. I seemed to be becoming more introvert these days. For one, it's because I'm more cautious -- not everyone wants to help or even listen, and some people can only make things worse! The other main reason would be that I don't really want people's help unless I really need it.

I think my coworkers would probably regard me as an extrovert, because I am quite outspoken (to the point where I'm brutally honest). I consider myself more of an introvert because I do think a lot about what people say or do and I don't share it all. I am also constantly being aware of myself -- what I am thinking and feeling, and how things relate to me. Usually people don't know my real feelings/reasons or when I'm really hurt. If I was truly extrovert, I think they would know. (By sharing this, I'm being "extrovert" , I guess.)

I might not be righly defining myself, because I know I'm not exactly the best communicator. (But people can be tiresomely dense at times -- I just get so tired of trying to explain...)

>>>but the fact that I find people incomprehensible, and I need a translator in order to think things through.

heh... don't you wish there was a such a thing as a translator, and you can just scan people with it as they talk, and there would be this screen that tell you exactly what they mean?

ME Strauss said...

Hi Liz,
It depends is one of my most used phreases. :)

Yeah, it does depend on who the people are and what needs sharing. I have said for years that if I'm talking about myself of my feelings I've already gotten over it.

heh... don't you wish there was a such a thing as a translator, and you can just scan people with it as they talk, and there would be this screen that tell you exactly what they mean?
That would be so very cool. :)

Rain said...

Interesting. I think I am really both an introvert and an extrovert.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Rain,
I think that most people really are both. It's what your preference is in times of stress. As I grow older I become more and more introvert--as I was when I was very small. That makes me wonder whether I wasn't overcompensating for my introvert qualities all along.

Jennifer said...

INTROVERT! Oh that's so me. I took the Myers-Brigg test and I scored a '2' in the extrovert category. I was like 99% to 1%.

Of course I always new that. I'm the one who's perfectly happy holed up in her room...I'm the one who disappears for days at times and people wonder if I'm still alive :)

That's interesting how you always thought of yourself as an extrovert. Even if you are a bit o both it must be nice being able to be both. To be able to handle 'public' situations and be perfectly happy in your own world...

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer!

It's taken me all of these years to have even clue who I am or what I am in any way shape or form. So I consider myself lucky to know anything.

I guess all those dance recitals and theater things made the stage a good place for me.

But like you, living inside my head feels the safest and the coziest at least now it does.

Cheryl said...

You sound like an extrovert with a fear of idiots from planet bozo.
A selective extrovert.
A controlled extrovert who is happy and outgoing naturally provided the company has been tested and found to have a brain.
A shy etrovert - which I suppose you could call an introverted one, but I'd just say cagey.
Maybe just an extrovert with too much brain, or heart - too used to noticing the blank looks that pull the rug from under you?
Is it necessary to also be shallow and indifferent to reactions to truly fit the extrovert profile?
Does that help?
Thought not!

Cheryl said...

BTW - 'It depends' makes you audio digital, ie analytical. This is a GOOD thing. It relates to how you process information, not to your social attitude.

So Ner.

ME Strauss said...

I'm laughing and my first response is to call you a BRAT--I mean that in the nicest way, of course. Planet Bozo. I hear you. You're saying I take myself too seriously. But this has been on my mind for a while now and someone brought up the Myers-Briggs to me recently. I'm still laughing.
Cagy Huh?
I think you're the cagy one,

PS Tell Zilla if she's ever on vacation you can do her commenting on my blog for her. :)

ME Strauss said...

I'm still laughing Cheryl,
Who put a quid in you today?

audio-whatio? Audio-digital? Someone called me a Googlebot not too long ago. How does that fit in with your analysis?

Cheryl said...

You completely misunderstand me or I completely misrepresent myself.
I meant you would probably be a natural extrovert were it not for some of the idiot reactions we can all get from other people when we try to be outgoing and friendly.
The reactions that make you (me) feel two inches tall and really stupid when in fact its the OTHERS who are being erm bozos, I mean, um, limited.

ME Strauss said...

Oh Cheryl,
I just love your energy. You sound like the new year has renewed you as well. No worries. I'm sorry if I misunderstood you. It was fun though--I understand you now and I thank you.

Cheryl said...

I meant you are afraid of the idiots from planet bozo, not your have the kind of fear that belongs to and idiot from planet bozo.


Just going to go and hide.....

ME Strauss said...

No worries and no need for a hole anywhere. I'm having such fun reading every second of this. I needed some fun today. Just enjoy it and go with the flow. :)

toadman said...

At this test here:
I scored INTP, with 89% introverted.

I've always known this, though. My mother pointed this out when I was a teenager. Of all of her children, she said I was the most introverted and introspective. I don't know why that is.. maybe I'm just wired differently.

Good afternoon Liz...

ME Strauss said...

Good afternoon, Tim.
There is no why, I don't suppose. I think our introver and extrovert qualities must balance each other somehow.

Rain said...

In times of stress, I see.

I took the test, very informative. thanks.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Rain,
I'm guessing you came out a thinker. I wonder if I'm right.

dog1net said...

Interesting perspective on how we choose to interact with others either by throwing caution to the wind, or by being more observing of what's actually going on. Myself, I try to keep a sense of balance, but more often I find myself looking for that quiet space, especially after a day at work.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Scot,
More and more I'm like you, looking for that quiet space. I wonder if it's that the world has gotten louder or I've gotten less tolernt of noise?

Rain said...

I am 22% introverted. I thought I would be higher. I am INFJ. Later tonight I want to put the test link up on my site. I think it's a good test.

ME Strauss said...

Many People think highly of the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator. If you want to read a good book on it try "Please Understand Me" by Kinsey. It talks about it in plain English and gives a great follow up test.