Saturday, July 18, 2009

What the Hell Am I?

Because she does it so much to me, I'm taking an idea from Rocket Scientist. Several commenters on her blog lately have described either her or themselves as "introverts," defining, in some way or another, what an introvert is, what he/she likes and doesn't, etc. When I was a child, I was painfully introverted. I still have trouble opening up in front of more than one person at a time, and only a handful of people in my life know even 10% of the real me. 

At the same time, I often come across as extroverted, especially in the classroom, where I use family stories, my dear husband, and other personal details to get my points across to students. For some reason, I feel safer in the classroom than anywhere else, as if my students would never do anything to betray me, while friends and relatives would (I may some day realize students will as well, but after 16 years of teaching they still haven't). 

So, am I an extrovert or an introvert? On the Myers-Briggs scale, I rank HIGHLY introverted, even more so than my own husband, who is most definitely an introvert. But what exactly does that mean? Does that mean I can't function in groups, or am socially inept? Not necessarily. A behavioral psychologist friend of mine--and an extreme extrovert--told me that it wasn't a matter of being able to function on one's own or in a group, it was where I received the most energy--what recharged my battery, so to speak. If I am energized by being in a group, I am an extrovert. If I recharge by being alone with myself, then I am an introvert. 

Honestly, though, such a definition might help all of you readers, but I find it still leaves me unsure. I most definitely recharge from being alone. Most of my favorite hobbies are solitary in nature: painting, drawing, writing, piano, sewing. Yet I also thrive off of several groups I am part of--whether this blog (and it's readers and fellow bloggers), or choir, or my fantastic playwright's group, or even my monthly book group made up of LDS women who read an extremely eclectic group of books. I look forward to entertaining in my home, enjoy girlfriend get-togethers, yet I would go insane if I didn't have some time to myself every single day. 

So, what does that make me? 

This reminds me of a film I saw in 10th grade... it covered right/left brain functions, and even included a test to see which side was your dominant lobe. Supposedly, if you put your thumb up in front of an object, stare at it, then close one eye, then do the same with the other, one eye will move less or not at all (meaning the vision from one of your eyes dominates your viewpoint when both eyes are open). The greater the difference between the two eyes, the more one side of your brain dominates over the other. Then the film claimed that geniuses are made up of those who are very left-lobed or very right-lobed. 

And guess what? I do not have a dominant eye. Both of my eyes create an even shift when I do the test, even after 22 years. I guess that makes me a non-genius, introvert/extrovert with no dominant brain lobe. 

Can you figure out where you stand on the spectrum? Even better, can you figure out what any of it means? 


  1. Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting!

    This is an interesting topic. I've pondered this myself. I took a test in college, and placed clearly on the introvert side. I figured that I'm somewhat of a socially-functioning introvert. At work and other group settings, I'm comfortable speaking up and participating. As far as starting a conversation with a stranger, I'm not so comfortable. I definitely feel recharged after spending time alone.

    I wonder if you're more outgoing as a teacher because you are playing a role? I also think it's easier to be more talkative online because you have some degree of anonymity.

    I wonder how many extroverts spend time wondering if and why they are an extrovert?

  2. i am 100% extrovert... and no i have never thought why, until now i would not even thought about it enough to even classify myself as a extrovert, in any setting i speak up and in most cases i take charge and lead right out of the gate. i have an answer for anything and adapt quickly to changing environments/situations...
    i fell it is important to have several dif types of people in a group to achieve the best results... in any environment such as work/friend/family/fantasy...

    When surrendered by to many of the same kind of people, breeds conflict and does not allow the group as a whole to work harmoniously...

    i have found that most introverts do not like to start topics or conversations but have a good answers/advice once a conversation starts... i find them to be shy but intelligent and philosophical and bring more to the group than most types of people/attitudes..

    i find it best to learn from each other and grow as a person from every type of person i meet... if we can do this there is no reason we as a whole cannot grow better from it. i do not think introverts are in any less valued in a group than any other...

    but to answer your question, i think you are really an introvert in situations you are new to or in old situations that you know what the outcome will be if you are not an introvert... as a teacher you feel comfortable in what you have learned and being around kids that look to you to lead them it is easy for you to take charge, and find it easy to flip the switch, you probably do not act that way in your normal environment because you want to avoid conflict or you feel comfortable taking a back seat in those situations... either way i think you are more extroverted if you look at you life from the outside in... You seem very opinionated and confident of a person to me... so that type of behavior can't be buried to deep...

    and what does it mean? Nothing really, it just who we are and how we act depending who we are with and what situations we are in... did not mean to type this much, sorry...

  3. I, believe it or not, test right down the middle with perhaps a slight edge to extrovert.

    Except I recharge on my lonesome. Always. I'm not social and never have been, but I like ones and twos.

  4. Wow, what answers you have!

    Perhaps the best we can do is know what our own limitations are, and do what we can to give ourselves what we need and make ourselves happy (and motivated to do more)...

  5. As you probably are aware, I'm not an advocate for labels. If putting oneself in a bin (for a specific purpose) helps you understand yourself, yay! As soon as it diverts you from what you really are and what you really need, by all means discard it.

    I think few, if any, personalities fit neatly into a bin but are a conglomeration of often contradicting aspects.

    Just my opinion.

  6. I'm a serious introvert on Myers-Briggs. But also in real life.

    That does NOT mean that I can't enjoy a good, quality conversation in a social setting. It means that I find non-quality conversations in social settings trying. Even painfully so.

    Give me a quiet corner in which to recharge, and I'll be in better shape tomorrow.

    I do think there's a lot of negative publicity about introverts. They always describe serial killers and school shooters that way.

    But over 60% of gifted children are introverted, which means that probably most of the more intelligent folks out there are introverted. It's not bad. It's about how we choose to spend our time. And if we're not out socializing, we might be solving the quantum gravity problem or inventing the teleporter.