Are you an introvert or an extravert?

When I did the Myers Briggs personality test, it became clear I had an INFJ personality, which means I am more on the introverted side.

Introversion, according to About.com, is a personality trait described in contrast to extraversion. While extraversion is characterized by sociability, talkativeness and assertiveness, introversion involves being more focused on internal thoughts and experiences.

Unlike extraverts, introverts don’t need to seek out external stimulation. They are inward turning, meaning that they are focused on the inner world of thoughts, feelings and emotions. While extraverts gain energy from socializing, introverts must expend energy while interacting with other people. For example, after attending a party, an introvert might feel a need to spend some time alone in order to ‘recharge’.

I was discussing with a fellow introvert recently about how natural it felt to ‘stay in our own heads’, as opposed to milling around and chatting with lots of people. We agreed that the decision to socialise, particularly on a large scale, needed to be intentional and deliberate. And while getting ourselves out of the house and interacting with others wasn’t necessarily instinctive for us, the payoff was always felt afterwards. We felt glad we pushed ourselves to do what wasn’t necessarily on the top of our list to begin with.

No matter what our personality type, pushing ourselves into the big, wide world can be a scary thing. Many of us are battling insecurities, doubts, fears… We aren’t always sure how we’re going to come across. We don’t know if people are going to like us. Perhaps we’ve been hurt before…

Sometimes it just feels safer to hide away. To maintain the same small community of friends, if that… Making yourself vulnerable can be a scary thing. But without such risk, it’s very hard to build strong, enjoyable relationships.

I remember a time in my life when I suffered from social anxiety. I was OK with trusted friends and family, but with anyone else I would clam up – freeze – and often say nothing at all in group settings. Things are different now, and more often the world is bright and ablaze – full of possibilities! I am not held captive by fear, and I usually feel and act friendly, happy and open.

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I am still an introvert – loving nothing more than a long, peaceful night on my own with a good book – but I look forward to the social stuff too. I always try to strike a good balance each week.

Have you ever done a personality test? Do you feel more revived by people, or by ‘alone time’?

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