On Introverts and Extroverts

What Everyone Thinks Introverts Are

I am an introvert. In fact, I am quite sure that I was the blueprint they used to write the definition of introvert. I am the quiet one at the party, or the coffee shop or the meeting: standing off to one side, silently taking everything in. Speaking only if I have something of significance to say: and then, only when I have taken the time to carefully formulate it in my own mind first.

I love and usually instantly recognise my fellow introverts: we can say so much to one another without ever uttering a word. Silences are long, comfortable and effortless. On the other hand, I have always been drawn to extroverts as well: they can make potentially painful conversations such effortless things. They kindly take over the discussion; the event; the party; the meeting and leave me to the happy business of bustling about in the background, or just observing until I really do have something to contribute.

I met my friend “J” at work. She had a booming voice that carried all over the building. Much of her work was spent on the phone with clients, and anyone within a few feet of her desk learned a great deal about the nature of her work simply by involuntarily overhearing her loud, animated conversations. Although I knew her only a little then, I had already decided that I very much liked her. She was real. She was colourful.  When it was announced that our office cubicles were to be placed side by side in the little office space where I had been – until then – working alone, I was pleased and agreeable with the arrangement.

“J” was not so sure. “I can be really, really loud, you know,” she warned me, with a concerned look on her face. I assured her that I was very good at tuning people out when I was in my own ‘zone’. I assured her that we would get a long just fine. With a doubtful look on her face, she began setting up her desk, just inches from my own.

It took two days. “Patti, I can’t STAND it,” she finally burst out, pulling me out of the deep contemplation of some document I was working on. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to work in here with you!”. I stared at her in surprise. Besides the usual morning and evening greetings, I hadn’t done anything; I had barely spoken since she had arrived two days before. I had barely used the phone: I had barely made a peep. “That’s the whole problem!” she wailed, “I really like you but you’re just TOO QUIET! It’s driving me CRAZY!”

By the time our howls of laughter had finally subsided, our friendship had been firmly cemented. After a respectful conversation on how best to resolve my – ah-hem – ‘problem’, we agreed to introduce a little noise into our space via a radio station that we could both stand listening to: at a volume we could both tolerate. From that moment on, I tried really hard to be as loud as I possibly could (I’m not sure that “J” ever noticed much of a difference) and ‘J’? Well all these years later, despite the fact that we no longer work together or live in the same province, we still love and admire one another. And we still occasionally check in to see how the other is doing.

I am constantly amazed at how often I am drawn to my polar opposite: my best friend – there is no greater extrovert – told me once that ‘I am not a party-pooper; I just get pooped by the party.’

I think that’s the thing: introverts and extroverts can be the greatest of friends; they just have to really, really respect and understand one another’s differences. The rest will take care of itself…

Source of photo

Patti Moore Wilson/© wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com

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Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

8 thoughts on “On Introverts and Extroverts”

      1. I meant that I was somewhere between extrovert and introvert. My teens were angst ridden, my twenties were just the best. Thirties – horrendous!! Forties were semi-shit. Fifties had a good start, then got shit…but so far (I’m 54 in a few months), I’m doing ok.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The world would be a terrible place if it was full of nothing but either Introverts or Extraverts, we need a good mix.

    I am never sure which of the two I am. I am very talkative once I get going but am rarely the person who initiates conversation. I have a strong personality with lots of opinions and views, although I accept people with different views, I am not bigotted (although some people think I am) just opinionated. I like small groups, I completely clam up in large crowds.

    A very wise manager once told me that whether your outgoing or quiet doesn’t define an introvert or extravert, it is about where you go to recharge your batteries. Do you need company to recharge your batteries or peace and quiet? By that definition I am an outgoing and talkative Introvert who hates crowds…. I suppose I’m just Weird.

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I sure understand about the need to recharge one’s batteries! That is a daily need for me. I had to force myself, in my younger years, to come out of my shell and now I CAN do many ‘extroverted’ things that would have had me paralyzed with fear at twenty. Many of my acquaintances are surprised to hear me call myself an introvert. You were lucky to have such a perceptive and understanding manager 😊 Oh, and weird people are always the BEST…😊

      Liked by 1 person

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