Life As An Extroverted Introvert

Well. When you’re on the train and you’ve managed to miss your stop TWICE, and then try to rectify your mistake and get on the wrong train, which turns an hour long journey into a 2 and a half hour long journey, what is there to do but write a blog?

Introvert. Extrovert. What do those words even really mean? Here’s what lord Google had to say…

Introvert noun

A shy, reticent person.

Extrovert noun

An outgoing, socially confident person.

Am I the only one who thinks these definitions are complete rubbish? Let me explain why. I’m not generally one to put labels on things, but if I had to put a label on myself I’d call myself an extroverted introvert.

I would say I have a generally introverted personality. I enjoy my own company when I have the chance. I pretty much live inside my own head (probably more than I should). I love sitting in coffee shops alone for whole days just reading a book. But I also love to socialise. I love spending time with my friends. My passion is performing; an activity which at times involves all attention being on me. I probably identify a little more with being an introvert, but I don’t think you could call me one thing or the other.

Here’s the thing. I really don’t believe that the word ‘introvert’ should simply mean ‘shy’. I know so many people who would most likely identify as an introvert, but who are also great at socialising and are surrounded by friends. The Urban Dictionary (the pinnacle of all wisdom), has a definition which I quite like. They describe an introvert as ‘a person who is energised by being alone.’ Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from being around other people. Personally, I work SO much more productively by myself than with others. It gives me the freedom to organise my thoughts without having to organise around other people’s thoughts. It sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but that’s just always what has worked best for me. 

You would think that introverts and extroverts (and introverted extroverts and extroverted introverts) could just live together in harmony without any issues. If we all just respected each other’s ways of working and got on with it. BUT there’s an issue with the modern world (well.. there are many issues but let’s not go into all that); at this moment in time, the world caters much more to extroverts than it does to introverts. I tend to find myself, especially within the musical theatre world, in situations where the person with the loudest voice is favoured. And in situations like that, I cannot win. I’ve tried, but I’m just not made that way. Although to be fair, musical theatre is a career where you have to make a choice to be extroverted. I make the choice to be an extrovert while I’m performing, and it’s a pleasure to do so. Unfortunately, I’m not just talking about theatre.

Our schools teach children to be extroverts. In classrooms, we sit children on large tables with 5 or 6 other children to encourage working together. Which, don’t get me wrong, is perfect for some kids. And all children should be taught how to work as part of a team. But what about the skill of working independently? What about those children who acheive more when they work alone? When the Nativity play rolls around, 9 times out of 10 the child with the loudest voice will get chosen to play Mary, even if a more reserved child might do a better job (but it’s ok I’m so not bitter about it…) Some of the people who have the most power in this world get there not because they have substance or intelligence, but because they have the loudest voice (naming no names of course…)

I feel like I should say at this point, that I love extroverts. Some of my best friends consider themselves to be extroverts, and they are wonderful, thoughtful and intelligent people. They are so open and generous of spirit. They are the people who bring introverts back to the world when they’re spending too much time in their own heads. Think of the possibilities if we found a way to cater for both extroverts and introverts. If everyone was allowed to work in a way that fulfilled their potential, we could acheive incredible things.

Apparently the actual term for an extroverted introvert is an ambivert. But personally I think I’m about 65% introvert, 35% extrovert. It’s a spectrum. I don’t reckon anyone is 100% either way. Even Carl Jung, the guy who universalised the terms introvert and extrovert in the first place, said this on the subject:

“There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”

P.S. Here is some stuff I found interesting.

19 Real Life Examples of An Extroverted Introvert So You Don’t Get Confused

Ted Talk by Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts

Keep reading.


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