Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? A Few Ways to Figure out YOU.

Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?

I’ve grown up in a home with parents that are on the extreme ends of this spectrum. My dad is a wise, quiet, extremely intelligent man who can be talkative and expressive but prefers, or at least is more often reserved and happy to be alone. My mom is the opposite. The woman loves parties, people, always has stories to tell and can be heard laughing all the time. I love that about her, but I also love my dad’s peaceful and much more contemplative existence.

Are You and Introvert or an Extrovert?

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/piksel

I had always thought I needed to be one or the other; I couldn’t be both and whichever one I was I needed to figure it out and then either be like my dad or like my mom. Problem: I am like them, I’m like both of them and therefore, unlike either one. I have individual tendencies that I ignored for a long time as I struggled to fit into a definition of myself that didn’t fit.

Growing up I believed that I was an extrovert and that I needed to be hanging out with friends ALL THE TIME. I continued in that philosophy in high school and early college but as I began to progress in my education I realized that I preferred the quiet sanctum of the library to the noisy social areas on campus. I’d rather be inside, snug and secure amongst some cherished books than outdoors with . . . people.

Talking to a friend I told him, “Well, when I’m at school or work I can be extroverted but when I get home I’m introverted”. He said, “Molly, that’s not how it works, you’re introverted all the time but you’re able to socialize and enjoy it – the difference is that people drain you rather than excite you, but you can still like talking to them”  – in other words, being an introvert doesn’t mean I have to be stuck in a library all the time or that I should be an extremely socially awkward person. Thank goodness!

It’s taken me many years to come to the conclusion that I am an introvert; but I am learning that I am not my dad’s version of it. I am a blend of both my parents and while I lean much more strongly into the introverted spectrum I’ve realized that I’m allowed to feel like talking, socializing and going places – it doesn’t mean I’m being fake or insincere, it means I’m actually being more real, more ME than I’ve been before.

I see some of the differences this way,

You might be an extrovert if:

  • people energize you and make you feel alive
  • the idea of solitude is terrifying to you, you’d rather be with some good friends or out for a spontaneous evening of fun
  • you have many friends that are easy to keep up with and small talk doesn’t make you cringe

 

You might be an introvert if:

  • people drain your energy instead of replenish it
  • you enjoy times of solitude and seek them out as a treat for yourself
  • you are imaginative, perhaps romantic and probably sentimental – these are signs of your inner-self at work and parts of us that most extroverts I know don’t really access.

What are you?

If you still have questions about introversion or would like to know more about how it is being discussed in the media today check out this video link: Susan Cain: The power of introverts. The book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking also by Susan Cain (yes, the speaker in the video link) is available at your local bookstores and ready for you to peruse. She has some absolutely fascinating information and statistics on introversion and extroversion and no matter where you fall in this spectrum, her information will help you to understand yourself and those around you in a deeper and more insightful way.

 

So, be honest with yourself, where do you fall in this spectrum?

Has accepting this been difficult of you?

How do you appease your introverted/extroverted needs?

Molly Keating

About Molly Keating

Hi, I’m Molly and I write for the blog here at O’Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who’s deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try.
Work at O’Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective.
I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

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  • Anne Collins

    I am thinking we are the same. I think way too deeply to be an extrovert, yet when the situation calls for it, I can call up my social skills and have a grand time. I don’t have to be the center of attention, but enjoy watching the antics of others.
    I run estate sales as my second job. I look forward to the actual days of the sale because I love to see the “regulars” who have become friends and love the activity and craziness of it. I love to be going and doing everything life has to offer. Yet I love my quiet alone time as well. So, what does that make me???

    • I think you’re an introvert, Anne. You’re good at all of it but what you prefer – quiet time, and where you go when you’re alone – into your head, is pretty telling of an introverted spirit. I enjoy coming to work to see my friends, people I’ve known for a long time – like your regulars. When there is a relationship built up I’m happy to be there but when I’m put in situations with strangers I feel really uncomfortable & I close up. It’s nice to know there are others out there who feel like me & I’m glad you’re one of them!

  • Jeff Turner

    Molly,

    Thank goodness you are not just like me! Thankfully you have some of your Mom’s best traits that make you the amazing individual that you are. I hope that you would aspire to be what you perceive as the best of both of us, plus the individual that God made. And I pray that you will identify the traits in me that are not desirable because we learn from both positive and negative examples.

    That first night that I held you as your mother was resting in the hospital bed, I looked at you in wonder. The wonder of who you were, who you would be. It has been an amazing journey to watch you reveal yourself to the world and grow into who you were destined to be. Thank you for making me think and introducing so many fascinating things in life I would have missed without you.

    Pops

    • You are the sweetest 🙂 . I am so grateful for the examples you have both been to me of how life can be lived well but in different ways. Thank you for your precious & sweet words, you & your heart mean more to me than I can say.
      Love you, Dad.

  • Lori Bristol

    Molly,
    This is a great post. I realize I am both. Many may be shocked because I come off as an extrovert and I am energized by people. The truth is I really enjoy my alone time and try to fit it in whenever possible. Maybe it’s the only child thing.
    Thanks for keeping me thinking and learning about myself!

    xoxo
    Lori

    • My theory is if you say you’re “both” you’re probably more of an extrovert? What do you think? The idea that Susan Cain states is that most people are dominant in one way or the other and a few are ambiverts – both intro & extroverts.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post & I think you’ve got something interesting there with “the only child thing” – probably a lot like being home-schooled – we can amuse ourselves anywhere, anytime!

  • Karilyn Leslie

    Miss Molly,
    Knowing you as a baby and toddler, and then having you back in my life now as an adult has been truly amazing!! I was an “adult” the whole time, and that is too weird!! I want to say that I believe you have an amazing grasp of YOU! It’s what I would’ve said about the “baby” YOU too. What you’ve done is made me think about me, and as I am often called “demonstrative & gregarious” many times I am more comfortable in intimate settings. I love quiet days, that hold nothing more for me but a comfy sofa, a hot tea, and a good book. Especially in Autumn and Winter months. Then in the Summer a raft in the pool, a cool drink, and a book. Thank you for this blog, I’ve always been told I’m an extrovert, and while I am perfectly comfortable in social setting, my true self enjoys the quiet of thought, warmth, and nature. I don’t necessarily feel that makes me an introvert, maybe just an extrovert that needs a break? Ha Ha!!
    Write On Sweet Girl!!
    Kari

    • Kari,
      I think there is totally something seasonal about my moods similar to what you described. I tend to hibernate in those wintery months but there is literally no time of the year when I feel more alive or excited. I live for October every year and the months after. But I think you are right about yourself, “an extrovert that needs a break”! I love that! AND that is really what I’m trying to get at, we are all something but we do need a break from it or a change up every now and then to keep things interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  • Joey O’Connor

    I’m definitely a balance between toward both…I lean towards extroversion and am energized by being around people, but I need a daily time along with God for prayer, reading scripture, favorite books and writing in my journal.

    This helps me keep life in perspective as I seek the true source of life.

    • I admire your ability to move through both with ease – I think that is a great gift that God has used uniquely in you. Thanks for reading, sharing & being such a great supporter of the blog!

  • Carrie Bayer

    Wow, Molly- this is awesome! I fall into the introvert category but like you, I can socialize easily & enjoy it. I very much enjoy hibernating & alone time but when I’m out with friends I have a great time. I also enjoy small talk & find it flows easily thru me. Great topic- thank you! Carrie

    • Thank you, Carrie! I love your use of the word “hibernating” – that is exactly how it feels some times – it’s not that I’m unsociable it’s that for my own well-being I need and want to hide away and rest. I’m so glad you enjoyed the read! Thanks for the feedback!

  • Marianne Piotrowski

    I am both a bit introvert and extrovert. I love alone time were I can concentrate on things that I want to do and get done at my leisure. Enjoying the company of friends is also important to me also. I love to find out what is going on in their lives and love to catch up on how their children are doing.

    • Sounds like you have some nice, deep relationships Marianne. I have just a few friends that I get together with but our time together is really valuable and we get to go really deep in how we’re doing. I like your balance, it sounds relaxing & truly good.
      Thanks for sharing!

  • Shasta Thompson

    Great job, Molly! I am an introvert 🙂

    • Lori Bristol

      Say it isn’t so!!! 🙂

    • Yay! We are in good company!

  • Molly – I love your blog! I am 50/50 split of both. I love being with people, yet I love being solo.

    • If you had to pick? Or are you a perfect/true ambivert? You probably are since only crazy people are ambiverts . . .

      • If I had to pick I would say I am an ambivert. I love being crazy it keeps me from going insane. Plus who want to be NORMAL? That is so boring………………… !

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Molls
    You challenge me on many levels, and this one has not disappointed. For the past six and a half years I’ve lived alone, something I thought I would never do. But life shows up and decisions are made, and you find that you can become different. Am I an extrovert or an introvert? Yep . . you betcha! I raised 4 kids in a house that was full of life and seldom quiet. Now my home is always quiet. This is what I have found to be true for me. I love being with my crazy family, my grandkids, my friends, and my colleagues. I love to be out, eating up life with abandon. But there are times right now, when quiet is the best thing ever. Watching the sunset, listening to some really great music, enjoying a glass of wine. What could be better? So I embrace what God has designed me to be . . . a little of both, with sugar on top!
    Aunt Pat

    • I love this idea of having a season in each or times of life where we’re back & forth very fluidly. I worked in Junior High ministry for a while and it required so much energy but I didn’t even think about it because I was having so much fun & loved it so much. Now, even just thinking about driving out there makes me tired – we truly are equipped for these times & seasons and we are wise to embrace the changes rather than cling to ill-fitting limitations. Thank you for your great comment!

  • Mark

    Molly…..Thanks for sharing your thoughts….I was reminded that the world is full of fake and insincere people….what we need are more people who are “real”…..people who have discovered that being real is about being yourself…and liking it…Good job, Mark

    • Yes! Mark, I’ve found that whenever I venture into this kind of a conversation with someone it tends to get serious or personal really quickly and I’ve been privileged to share a lot of my own struggle with them. This simple sharing has resulted in countless moments of their confiding in me, coming to me for advice or encouragement, and I know it all goes back to my desire to be a “real sinner” in a world of people who don’t want to talk about it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  • Molly, thank good you are not like your dad! We are all a melting pot of DNA aren’t we. The neat thing is even though we will inherit some traits from our parents both good and bad we are unique and nobody is like you.

    • So true Chuck – not the part about my dad but that no one is like me!! I get hung up so often on who I am, how am I classified when really, I shouldn’t be wasting my time with definitions or restraints and instead just be me.
      Thanks for sharing Chuck!

  • Cherry Schlange

    Molly–
    I, like Karilyn have known you only as an adult. I was fortunate enough to have you and Andy in Christmas Joy Kids, and I had the joy of standing right in front of you when you sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” What happened to the beautiful, long haired rudy cheeked little girl that I knew??? Especially the long hair!!! I am totally an introvert and have NOOOOOOOOOOOO extrovert in me at all. Hard for some to believe, but, like you, when I get around people I don’t know, or even sometimes people I do know, it is the easiest thing for me to get a drink of water in my big glass and just go sit in a corner and listen to everybody talk and “people watch” I love to people watch whether sitting on the swing on my deck, or at a restaurant, or in the mall. The mall is really the funniest and the most disturbing; I have trouble with people who can’t handle their own children without cursing or screaming, etc. I usually leave then and get in my car and come home to my Calico and peace and quiet. I have lived by myself, with my parents (as an adult) trying to have a disease diagnosed, and with my mother taking care of her for 4 years 24/7 (she has Alzheimer’s and is now happily down with my brother in an adult home). I am now alone and recovering from my time with my mom, and I am probably extra, extra introverted right now. I have all my doors and windows locked so not even my family can get in unless I want them to–of course, they all live in CA. so they don’t very often make it up to Bend, OR. Right now, I am happy with where I am. I have 2 very good friends-a husband and wife- with a 3 year old and a New Year’s Day babv! I have lots of fun with them and can talk to them about my problems. I would wish for maybe 2 or 3 more friends to go to dinner with or shopping with, but God has not seen fit to give those to me yet, and that is okay. I think he knows better than I when the time is right. I am sometimes lonely, but I have Callie and the Lord and His Word to chase the blues away! YOU have grown up into a beautiful, discerning young woman who was trained and brought up in the ways of the Lord by two of the most beautiful people I know. I just love your Mom and Dad and they taught me so many things throughout our times at Bethany. God couldn’t have given you two moreDIFFERENT, wise, spirit-discerning, loving people than your parents! I cannot believe you are an introvert that can play an extrovert with a big smile! Exactly what I do! I am almost glad that I am disabled and can no longer work or sing (a severe chronic problem with my larynx that cannot be fixed) because it makes being an introvert and living alone much easier. As Aunt Pat said, you learn to adjust to things and with God, who knows what one day will be possible!!! Thankx for the blog. So you’re also a writer, eh

    • Cherry!
      I’m so ashamed that it has taken me this long to get back to you! As you know, you get caught up in the next project and unfortunately the house-keeping part of this one got put way back on the burner.

      What a joy to read your words, remember you & be blessed by you even this many miles away!

      We just did several postings on Alzheimer’s Disease, I had no idea how devastating it was and I truly have great admiration and compassion for you as you cared for your mother. The fact that you are “recovering” now is a good thing, a wise place to put yourself. I really think you go through trauma with a disease like that and I’m glad you are taking time for yourself to regroup as best you can.

      I’ll be praying for 1 or 2 more friendships to find you out. I know what you mean about wanting them but relying on God’s timing to prepare you for them & them for you. It’s special and I trust him to share you with others.

      Thank you again for writing to me Cherry, for remembering me, and for blessing me with your kind words, your story & your faith.

      Blessings on you!
      Molly

  • Amy

    Great Topic! I don’t think we ever give much thought to being either one. I think we adjust ourselves to the situation therefore robbing us of who we really are. I am definitely an extrovert but am just as happy being an introvert.

    • It is amazing watching someone come out of their shell or do something you know isn’t within their comfort zone. I think about that as I watch my dad at church or with other people. He loves them, he’s great at talking with them, and showing his sincere care for them, but many times, I think he’d just like to be sitting at home, watching a movie. I think we miss out too if we aren’t aware of our tendencies and making sure we cater to them or at least, know the limits of them.
      Thanks for your comment Amy!

  • Sharon Watkins

    Good to stop and think about…..I have concluded that I am both. And the older I get the more grateful I am that I have learned to be both!!! I love being and associating with people, but I am learning that I also need and want my alone time to just rejuvenate and meditate and renew! Probably so I can be extroverted again!!!

    • So sounds like you are more of an extrovert but that you are learning to make time for pause and peace in your life. What a wonderful thing Sharon! I think so many people (especially extroverts) can miss out on that key component to a balanced and happier life. I aspire to be balanced like you & I’m thankful you shared!

  • Ms. Fran Cantor

    Hello Molly,

    I’m finding some Blog that are interesting to respond to even 2012. knowing you wont
    get to read this. When I was child I was an introvert and prayed a lot. as an adult i change
    a little after getting married and raising five children they brighten my life being married.
    Sorry to say after my adorable Husband pass away. I was hired at a position were my
    personality change a total turn around and now I’m an extrovert and love it . I can speck
    and smile at anyone because I love people and I don’t feel uncomfortable.

    My position as a receptionest just brought out on me, myself & I. Never thought I had it in me
    plus a sense of “HUMOR” which I like. I feel everyone at Martin aviation I met brough it
    out on me. I really met Soooooooooo Many people who were delightful to me and I just stood
    out and could not help myself . And did not want toooooo!!!! My life has change and I Love it!!!!
    This was a good one for me. Blessing!!

    Frannie