Some thoughts about the introvert/extrovert thing
(just off the top of my head, not an attempt at a thorough examination of the subject)
I think we humans have a tendency sometimes to look at someone else’s behaviour pattern and judge it through the lens of our own personality type.
On the one hand, I’ve often felt that extroverts around me (not all, I hasten to add) look at how much time I spend on my own and think it’s unhealthy. You should get out more, you need to mix with people more, etc etc etc. My [unresearched] theory is that this is because for them being with other people recharges them, and being on their own drains them, so they simply assume that this is how it is for everyone. Imagine if you met someone who said they live on, say, only 10% of the amount of oxygen you use – you’d seriously worry about them. But social interaction is not like oxygen, and whilst extroverts need a very large amount of it, introverts actually can’t cope with a large amount and if I tried to live like extroverts do, I’d get totally exhausted.
On the other hand, we introverts sometimes look at extroverts and judge them to be less deep/intelligent/thoughtful or something – because they don’t sit down for hours with a book like we do, because they more naturally multitask and so it looks to us like they’re not really focusing on anything. But I’ve learned to see it differently, both through reading about it and through observing the behaviour of one of the people I love most in the world, who is an extrovert and is seriously one of the wisest people I have had the privilege of knowing, she is only in her late 20s and has levels of depth that many people twice her age have yet to reach. And I’ve sat with her and talked about deep things whilst she – to my utter shock – also did Facebook at the same time. But she actually finds it helps her to concentrate on what I’m saying, her mind needs more stimulus and if it hasn’t got enough to occupy itself with then it’s harder for her to focus on the conversation.
So what am I trying to say?
When you see someone doing X, it doesn’t mean that they’re in the same situation as you would be if you were doing X.
When you see someone sitting on their own, if you’re an extrovert you may assume they are lonely and need company, but if that person is an introvert they may be enjoying some really essential recharging time.
When you see someone running around and doing a million different things all at the same time, if you’re an introvert you might conclude that they have no depth, but if that person is an extrovert then this is actually the best way for them to function and to be able to think!
I just love how we’re all so different!