Saturday, March 20, 2010

Introvert vs Extravert

I've been having some interesting conversations recently about personalities, and some stereotypes I've held for years have changed.  I'm an extravert.  If you know me, that statement is so obvious it seems silly to even type it.  Patrick is an introvert.  I always thought of him as an "extraverted introvert" in he tips the scale towards being an introvert but is comfortable in social situations and is so personable he MUST have a slice of extraversion in there.  He doesn't.

We've talked about the different personalities of our girls, and I realized I wanted them to be extraverts.  Because...

EXTRAVERT= confident, leader, popular, fun, social, able to connect with people and be a good friend
INTROVERT= shy, socially awkward, loner, quiet

If you asked me to define those words, this isn't what I would have told you, but deep down it's what I thought and believed.  Before all of you introverts send me hate mail, I WAS WRONG.  As I was talking with a friend from church, she described herself as a shy extravert, and her retired marine commander husband doesn't have a shy bone in his body, guessed it... he's an introvert.  "Shy extravert"....hmm....I had to think about that one.  Here's the truth, extra/introversion has everything to do with how you recharge, how you center yourself, and very little to do with any of the other words in my definition.  I realized I know people who are clearly extraverts (they need to be with people all the time), but they are socially unaware, awkward, or just plain annoying.  I also know introverts who are very strong leaders, others who are my best friends (and I can talk with them for hours).

Adeline is an introvert.  It took me a while to come to that conclusion.  She doesn't have separation anxiety.  She loves spending time with her friends...and asks to see them often.  However, I see now how introspective she is.  She is taking it all in and figuring out the world...just like her daddy.  She is frequently described as "serious."  She needs "quiet time."  One of her favorite things to do is sit and "read" herself.  Then, she is ready to join our family again and be her crazy, silly self.  She is a micro, female version of her daddy.

I think (and it is still early to tell) that Camille has more of my personality.  Lord, have mercy.  She's got some feist to her.  However, despite signs of extraversion, she screams when we go in the nursery.  She.wants.mommy!  It is so interesting to me to see how different their personalities are even in these early stages.  We hardly babyproofed our house for Adeline.  If Camille makes it to age 3, we're doing well.  She's into EVERYTHING!  (as I typed that sentence, I turned around to look at her and had to stop to pull a piece of easter grass out of her mouth that she found on the floor....oh look, NOW she found a candy wrapper.  Seriously?!?) She's the kid that eats chalk and tries to stick her finger in outlets.  If there is a crumb on your floor, she'll find it.  Now, what were we talking about?  Oh...

What's the point?  Does personality type really matter?  I guess, it has helped me to understand the needs of my husband and my children in a different way.  It is good for my biases and prejudices to be tested and corrected.  It also reinforced why Patrick and I don't do well on long road trips.  He wants to be introspective, and I want to chat.  Maybe when Camille can say more than "hi, dada, mama, and no" we can revisit the idea as a family....


jj said...

Nice post. Interesting. I'm an introvert who has an extremely extroverted daughter. She wants to be with friends every minute of the day. I’m always telling her to come in and rest and recharge, which she clearly does not need. But since I often need down time away from people, I just assume everyone needs that. Her best friend is just like me but has a mother just like Esther. We moms often talk about trading daughters so we can understand them better!

sarah said...

lynn, i'm glad you posted this. because i did some myers-briggs study in my late teen years, i've known the difference between those two for a long time, but most people think it's a matter of shy vs. outgoing (as you said).

i always thought i was an extreme extrovert, but since hitting my 30s (and working through some of my emotional baggage), i find that i am a very outgoing extrovert with major introvert tendencies:). i love people and definitely get a charge from being around them, but after awhile, i need/want to go be by myself to recharge my batteries even further.

the beautiful thing about these qualities is that they can, and may, change throughout the various seasons of our lives. i'll be interested to see how your little ones' personalities develop more fully as they get older!

Anonymous said...

I'm an extrovert as well...go figure, LOL

My oldest two daughters are just like me, they love people, love being in the lime light and shining.

My youngest is an introvert. It took many years for me to understand her (and her dad who never really needed to interact with people and was very content to be alone.)

My youngest has struggled for many years thinking that she needed to fill her sister's shoes. It's been a rough road to finding herself and the fact that she is quiet, reserved, and extremely intelligent was okay, even a good thing to be.

During the past couple of "rough" years (as you know) she would sit and look at us when we had our "family meetings" around the table. She struggles to express her feelings and admits that she is not a communicator.

God has given me great insight into learning that she is incredible. She is thoughtful, deep in her emotions of caring and commitment. She never utters a bad word about anyone (because her mouth is not flapping like the other women in her family.)

God has created us all so differently. He, in His wisdom, designed each one of us to have strengths that may not all be the same..thankfully!

I love this post Lynn. I love that fact that after 21 years I can finally look at my precious daughter and wrap my arms around her and love her for who she is, someone very different from her mother.

Megan said...

I have a great book on this topic - Nurture by Nature. Really helpful in understanding how your kids are uniquely created and how you can adapt your parenting to fit their personalities.

krista said...

I could copy jj's comment, verbatim! LOL.

Great post! I'm guilty of the same misconceptions.

Um, yeah--guess it's no surprise to you that I'm an introvert. :-) BUT, I hope I've grown as a communicator since my childhood and even teen years when I was painfully shy. God has done a work in my heart by His grace and mercy. For me it was centered in caring too much about what others thought of me and not realizing my worth in Christ.

But back to the kid thing:
Oh, I am so befuddled by my daughter. Until age 2 1/2 when someone flipped a switch, (unbeknownst to me!) and she went from reserved and introspective, to chatting up every single person that crosses her line of vision and GO, Go, GO, I understood her. Now? Not so much. I wish I were more patient with our differences. I think Adam is a bit more like me, but Natalia has definately grown into her Daddy's shoes.

Lord have mercy. I'm not sure which is better. LOL.

Momma Roar said...

Great post, Lynn and fun to read the comments. This has me thinking - I've always thought of myself as an extrovert - but I really need the time to myself to recharge too. I need to start looking more at what my kids are - thanks for the post.

Now, get your sweeper out and clean up the easter grass, candy wrappers and crumbs! ;-P

Christie said...

I like your perspective on this. As I'm sure you know, I'm introverted, but I think I do fall into the introverted shy category as well. Like you describe, I had heard an introvert described as someone who needs time alone to recharge and an extrovert as someone who rechanges by being w/ others. Glad to see that not everyone equates introvert w/ negative imagry.

Muthering Heights said...

These are great insights! I think I can identify my childrens' personality types, but they always surprise me! said...

I have been pondering this a lot lately, even been considering blogging about it myself. I am def an introvert and have noticed myself more introverted over the past few months.

Kristen said...

this was interesting. i am an introvert. i need time alone to recharge. this has me thinking about my kids. thanks for posting.