I’ve happened across handful of articles about introverts and extroverts lately. Not sure why they’ve cropped up. There seems to be some truth to the idea of “gestalt”; ideas will come and float around when they want. Whatever, the reason, the articles have me thinking about that personality dichotomy.
I’m not sure where you fall on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. I tried to determine what the percentages of the population would be for that and there doesn’t seem to be a definite answer. Some sources say a small percentage are introverts, some say it’s half and half. I can’t even know for certain that you understand me when I say “introvert” and “extrovert”, because the terms are so loaded.
Let me just define things as I think of them: in general, if you feel energized after hanging around with friends or going to events, you are an extrovert; if you are energized by alone or quiet time, you are an introvert. That doesn’t mean you are always a partier, and it doesn’t mean you are always a loner — it’s just a loose model for what “does it” for you.
My wife and I are kind of introverts, in this system. Well, I get something out of having big parties and get-togethers, but I can’t just do it at the drop of the hat as some people I know. I have to kind of brace myself. And when I’m at the thing I reach a point where I have to either leave or make a decision to just power through.
Supposedly there are actual chemical differences in the brains of introverted and extroverted people. Introverted people have more blood flow in the frontal cortex areas associated with introspection and self-reflection. Extroverts have less, and are less able to apply self-reflection. Introverts have a low tolerance for “stuff happening”, extroverts have a high tolerance. Supposedly introversion occurs higher with gifted people.
I’d like to believe that all of that, because it boosts my self-image and validates the things I value; but I don’t know the science behind those statements, just circular references to blog posts. Of course, I’m certainly willing to parrot them if they’ll make me look good doing so. *
What I’m mainly concerned about is less about all the definitions I describe above, and more about why does there need to be the description in the first place? If it’s important enough to people to find a label, there must be some underlying need it is trying to meet, or truth it is attempting to describe.
I’d like to borrow from JRR Tolkien to frame my point. Dwarves versus Hobbits, if you will.
You have the dwarves who are doers and goers. They head out and mine for gold, mine for minerals, mine because it’s just what they do. The hobbits, on the other hand, just love to stay in. Write a genealogy, make some supper.
Matching my examples at the start, the dwarves are not above a good beer and a smoke, but what they do is activity. The hobbits aren’t above a party or a gathering now and again, but what they do seems more inward. Writing a genealogy is about the most self-reflective you can get, short of memoirs or a mirror.
My supposition is that there is a real friction between people who like going out and doing stuff and people who like staying in and doing stuff. Furthermore, my experience is that, culturally, it is less acceptable to be a hobbit than it is to be a dwarf. I can’t speak from the experience of an extrovert — who knows, maybe they feel pressured to cool it down a little — but I can tell you that if I wanted to stay inside all the time that would be met with derision and perhaps even a talking-to. I don’t know why that is.
People want the hobbits to be less hobbit-like, go on adventures, have fun and live a little. As if they weren’t already living a fulfilled life. The thing is, who is writing the story of their adventures at the end of the day? It’s the hobbits, isn’t it?
Maybe the dwarves should be a little bit more like the hobbits.
Why can’t we all just get along?
* Blogging is an introverts’ paradise. You can be out in public on a soap box without ever leaving the house.