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Kasper Zülow

Introvert vs extrovert

Sometimes, people conclude that a person’s attitude is based on what they perceive him to be. One of my experiences with this situation was when my classmates, teachers, and other people around me took my laziness as a form of introversion. They concluded that I am an introvert based on their observation that I am not that talkative and do not socialize much. At first, I considered this laziness because interacting with the majority would require me to exert unnecessary energy, but later on, I thought that they might be right in some aspects. Even so, I am not embarrassed to say that I am somehow an introvert, but there are just some misconceptions that give a different perception of being one. I got its definition from Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary to further understand what an introvert is. It defined an introvert as a shy person. This is quite contrary to what an introvert is. Although some introverts may be shy, introversion is not defined by shyness. Cain (2012) explained that “shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating.” “Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not” (p.12). This explanation helps in clarifying the difference between shyness and introversion. I do not think that introversion should automatically be linked to shyness.

Besides, I may be an introvert, but I am not shy about initiating a conversation with a friend, an acquaintance, or even a stranger. Shyness is not the only misconception that is associated with being an introvert. In a conversation with my English high school teacher, it was taken that “introverts find it difficult to socialize” (J. Nocomora, personal communication, July 23, 2014). Quite similar to this is that other people would think introverts are bad at socializing. They may even associate an introvert with an antisocial person. An antisocial person is not sociable; not want the company of others (Oxford dictionaries, n.d.). Antisocial people isolate themselves from the group and do not prefer to associate with others. If introverts were like this, they would isolate themselves from those who wanted to socialize. However, introverts, as a whole, are not antisocial. They also socialize with others, which can be observed when they interact with the group they are in. Introverts also have social lives. They have a limited number of close friends they can confide in. They also consider talking to people who they do not know. Despite this, they are not noticed by the majority of people as sociable because introverts only socialize to an extent and not for a long time. Introverts are distinct from shy and antisocial people. Even though an introverted person may also have the personality of an antisocial and shy person, the word introverted will suggest a different meaning if associated with the two. Introverts are relatively more withdrawn, retiring, reserved, quiet, and deliberate; they may mute or guard expressions of positive affect, adopt more skeptical views or positions, and prefer to work independently (APA Dictionary of Psychology, 2007). This definition gives the essential meaning of what an introvert is instead of merely relating it to a shy or antisocial person. As noted earlier, an introvert likes to interact with others but not as much as other types of people.

This other type of person is known as an extrovert. Extroverts are more outgoing, gregarious, sociable, and openly expressive (APA Dictionary of Psychology, 2007). Extroverts are the more active types of people who can socialize with others longer than introverts can. Although they are like this, an extrovert’s brain is less excitable than an introvert’s, as opposed to what one would expect (Bowdon, 2007, p. 92). Since this is the case, they socialize more to reach the level of excitement that would give them satisfaction and fulfillment. Even with their differences, introverts and extroverts have something in common: they are both sociable. It only differs in how much an introvert socializes compared to an extrovert. Then, about an extrovert’s less excitable brain, it would seem that an introvert’s brain is the opposite. As a result of this inner sensory overload, as a form of self-protection, they naturally avoid too much social interaction, which they find mentally taxing (Bowdon, 2007, p. 92). This explains why introverts do not often socialize and their social interaction with others is limited. As an introvert, I find too much social interaction with several people energy-draining. Naturally, I do not hold a conversation for too long if I see little importance in it and if it is with someone who is not a close friend of mine. Perhaps if the subject of a conversation was something I was interested in, I could keep the conversation going for a longer period. Most of the time, I prefer to do my work independently rather than with a group I need to work with for a long time. Also, I prefer to interact with a small group of people because it makes me feel tired when I do it with a large group. I just like to recharge myself from all the activities and socialization that I did. As much as I prefer being independent or interacting with a few people, there are also times when I would feel that I have all the energy to socialize with everyone. When this happens, I tend to be noisy, and this would be the opposite scene from my usual quiet self. In this case, I would have an extroverted personality. Similarly, extroverts do not socialize all the time. They also have these instances where they would like to have quiet time for themselves,, making them act like introverts. Bennet (1962) asserted that “every person has a quality of both extraversion and introversion, and the relative preponderance in the consciousness of the characteristics of one or other indicates the type” (p.76). No one can be a pure introvert or a pure extrovert.

A person will likely have the characteristics of an introverted extrovert. Yet, he will have a characteristic that will be more dominant than his other characteristics. The dominant characteristic will be more noticeable, thus defining an individual’s personality. On the whole, I consider myself an introvert since I prefer and possess the qualities of an introvert more than those of an extrovert. Even if extroverts seem more preferred by society, an introvert should not feel inferior. Oftentimes, introverts are just overlooked because of their silence. Hence, they are misinterpreted by many. Introverts also socialize like most people around them but only do so to an extent because too much social interaction will exhaust them mentally. To restore their energy, they would spend time alone or only with a few people who are close to them. They are different from antisocial and shy people. People sometimes tell an introvert to change or interact more with others. This happens because they do not fully understand what an introvert is. Despite the misconceptions about introverts, they do not affect how I see introverts as having unique kind of personalities. In any case, I am still one of these introverts.

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Kasper Riis Zülow