Content to Be

I recently read an article that compared the general traits of Extroverts and Introverts. 

While never fond of labelling, I found myself falling squarely into the Introvert category, so much so that what I thought were outgoing and 'extroverted' traits, were just behaviours that I have nurtured over the years in order to tolerate social situations that Extroverts find so easy to participate in.

While I can attend a party, I feel anxious beforehand and planning only a short visit makes me feel much better!  (Knowing I can leave whenever I want is much safer than having people over to my house and waiting for THEM to leave!)  I am aware how offensive this could be - it is not to be taken personally!  I have a hard time coming up with things to say casually, things meant to be superficial, 'small talk', for the sake of having a good time with a lot of people who you don't know very well.

One on one is more manageable.  If I'm given the luxury of time, I can develop deeper relationships.  I also have to be forced into a one on one relationship initially in order to have the opportunity to do so.  Otherwise, I would never meet anyone I don't think!  That is why I can teach piano comfortably, that is why I was able to be an exotic dancer comfortably (although the stage performances may be translated as being extroverted behaviour, I tolerated them because they were only 10 minutes long, and when the bar was full it was more exhilirating after my performances because I was just thrilled that I managed to pull it off!)  It always felt better to disappear into a booth with a familiar customer!

It's also why I was dreading becoming employed this summer.  I have now managed to function in a very busy, very populated (both employees and customers) Tim Horton's coffee shop for a little over a month now.  Going ok, but I feel twice as exhausted after my shifts as an extrovert would feel.  I am sad that my home time to write quietly has dwindled to nothing.  Today I start at 10 - a little unusual but welcomed! So here I am, content after a coffee and an hour of peace and quiet.  Even had a nice thunderstorm first thing this morning.....

I know myself much better as an Introvert now and I know why I've acted the way I do when I'm in social situations.  


thinkingoutloud thinkingoutloud
51-55, F
7 Responses Jun 13, 2008

Why, thank you Owen.

I found your self description and analysis of your own behavior and tendencies to be remarkably incisive.

TOL - As I was reading your comment, I was startled to see my husband in your father. He's always "performing". Trying so hard to make people accept him (some aspect of him) that he tends to make people uncomfortable. He always talks to people, so again, I'm assuming extrovert, but I'm starting to wonder. He's not really talking *to* them, he's talking *at* them. <br />
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IWM - that's the thing, they're learned behaviors. I'm just realizing that. I worked in a coffee shop in college, and learned to chat with customers, but that was easier. Other than courtesy, the customer approached me. The ones who did were obviously people who were naturally skilled conversationalists...I envy that. I will still try to learn, but it's good to realize that it's not a natural thing with me.

Working in a coffee shop is a great way to learn the art of small talk and other extroverted behaviors.<br />
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I was painfully painfully shy during my childhood years and it carried through into my teens. Even now, when my confidence falls, I turn right back into that awkward high school girl.<br />
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Jobs in retail and waitressing helped me to be outgoing in a more natural manner.<br />
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Not every moment has to be filled with words.<br />
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Not everyone has to be the life of the party. Allow your skills to grow naturally and you'll be fine. <br />
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Oftentimes, extroverts cannot communicate in a one on one situation. As you are already aware, deeper and more meaningful relationships can result.......

BN: yes, high sensitivity.....I will look into that website you mentioned....can feel like a burden sometimes, and the cause of much hurt and over-analyzing when other 'less sensitive' people accuse you of being analytical!<br />
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Onceandfutureglow: yes, it's a weird feeling...feels almost like your 'other' personality that you step into when its required, eh? My father has this 'other' personality too. I am so sensitive to his 'performing' that I try to find ways for him to just calm down and be comfortable with me. He is a man who long ago left my mom and his kids (one of them me) and now, years later, tries to be 'upbeat' in order to be entertaining - thinking he needs to be? Is he hiding something? Maybe his real, deep, quiet self that no one can really be when they're WITH someone while visiting for a few hours! Alas, the visits have to happen in order to maintain relationships, and I find myself accepting his 'entertaining' personality as shallow and unreal as it feels to me. I am afraid I'm the same introverted way but I hope I come off as more genuine and I guess I hope that I don't (or maybe I do) run into another highly sensitive person who sees the real me.<br />
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Oh what a mess our minds can make of it all.....

I am just coming into the realization that I'm an introvert too. I have friends, and they're close friends, but as you said, a lot of what I want to think of as extroverted is just a result of modifications I had to make in my personality in order to cope with my life. <br />
Weird feeling, huh?

You seem very self-aware; this is a great analysis of introverted behaviour. I really relate to a lot of what you said. You might also be interested in the trait of high sensitivity, which has been researched a lot by Dr. Elaine Aron (she has a website, just Google her).