I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently and it’s probably nothing new, I’m sure people have made these observations before but I just wanted to talk it through.
(that’s almost poetic)
Anyway, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a massive extrovert. I’m loud, I thrive in social situations, I run around at parties mingling with various people, I’m good at networking with strangers, I like big groups and I’m comfortable around new people. But actually none of these things are what it means to be an extrovert. You could be an introvert and good at all these things too.
Extroversion and introversion describe where you get your energy from. I became obsessed with Myers Briggs (MBTI) when I was at university (I’m an ENFP if you were wondering) and I learnt a lot about extroversion and introversion. It’s not about being confident or shy, loud or quiet, it’s about energy. Where do you get your energy from? Is it being around other people or being on your own? And obviously for most people it’s not as black and white as that. There’s a spectrum, a sliding scale between introvert and extrovert and I would call myself an introverted extrovert.
This first came to my mind when my friend, Leena (who I talk about a lot on this blog, maybe I’m obsessed with her), called herself an extroverted introvert. Leena is loud, loves a good party, enjoys hanging out with other people, is very confident and if you first met her at a social event you’d probably think she was an extrovert. But no, Leena is an introvert. She lived on her own for a year and she literally just spent a week by herself in the lake district on a writing retreat and didn’t get bored. Even though she is really good at and enjoys doing things that are usually seen as “extroverted” ultimately it drains her and she needs to recharge her energy by being alone.
I am the opposite. I get my energy from being around other people, whether that be a group of people or just one other person. I need to get my fix of talking to someone or I slowly go insane. But I love being on my own. Right now I am writing this from my bed and I don’t plan on leaving my bed except for food breaks and I don’t want to hang out with anyone today. Not because I’m feeling sad but just because that’s how I’m feeling and what I want to do today.
Being freelance means I do spend a lot of time on my own and I’m good at it. But I also have work days where I’m surrounded by other people constantly and I come home and lock myself in my room and don’t talk to another human because I just need to do my own thing (catch up on YouTube videos, watch a TV show or film, read a book). My housemates probably see me as a bit of an introvert because I spend so much time on my own.
But here’s the catch, even though I love being alone and I very much enjoy my own company if I spend too much time like this then I get sad. Like really sad. I just wallow in self-pity and I get into this horrible funk which I can only be brought out of by speaking to another human. But usually by this point I’ve lost all my energy and I can’t bring myself to get out of bed and go talk to someone (and living in a warehouse of 12 people there is usually someone around). Sometimes I don’t even have to talk to someone else, just being in the same room as another living, breathing human being can be enough to start refuelling my energy. That is why I’m an extrovert.
My sister, on the other hand, is probably an extroverted extrovert. She gets her energy from being around other people and can’t stand being alone. Last year I received a text from her saying:
“some friends just asked me out for drinks tonight but I said no and I’m staying in by myself with Netflix and wine – are you proud of me?!”
I was so proud of her.
Even though I am loving this solitary bed working time right now, we’ll see how long it is until the funk sets in and I have to emerge from my room…
What do you think? Are you an introvert or extrovert? Can you spend loads of time on your own without getting really sad? Let me know in the comments!