intro or extro?

Every week at church, we all wear handwritten name tags. But with a twist. I have no idea who started the madness, but there’s always some sort of special addition to our names.

Like our favorite fruit. Or the town of our birth. Or our favorite summertime drink. Or our mom’s first name.

Today we had to write whether we were an introvert or an extrovert.

I was a little torn.

Just like that ancient tale about all those blind dudes who each felt a different part of an elephant so they all had a way different description of the beast, I feel like if you polled 100 people who have had different kinds of interactions with me, you’d get 50 different responses.

Or two. Since there are only two choices.

So, which am I? What did I write on my name tag?

Pseudo-extrovert.

I don’t really even know what that means. Except that I think I’m an introvert in extrovert’s clothing a lot of the time. I feel like I should be a social butterfly, and I can play one really well, so I do. But, in reality, I’m way out of my comfort zone.

Our friend Tom helped make it a little easier to choose. “One way you can tell if you’re an introvert or an extrovert,” he said, “is by how you feel after you’ve been around people. If you gain energy by being with people, you’re more likely an extrovert. If you feel drained of energy, you’re probably more of an introvert.”

I definitely feel drained. Like I need to just come home, put on comfortable clothes, and curl up in my bed with a book.

On the other hand, I really do love people. And I do feel energized in many kinds of social situations.

I feel like my life is full of oxymorons. Am I the only one who finds this question agonizing?

Let’s take a poll:

1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

2. I’m gonna need to see some proof.

29 thoughts on “intro or extro?

  1. Krysten

    1. Extrovert. With periods of patchy introversion.

    2. I definitely get the big energy boost from being around people that make me smile or engage in great conversation. I can talk with someone like that forever about nothing and everything. That all comes very naturally. However, there are days (like yesterday, for example,) when the mere thought of having to be “on” is just undeniably painful. I just want to read, write, or think.

  2. Tonia

    This is SO CRAZY that you post about this. I’ve been getting bombarded from so many different things I hear and read lately that has started to make me second guess myself. I always thought I was an extrovert because I talk a lot and I’m pretty open and honest and tell it like it is. But, the more that I look into this intro- and extro- thing, I think I’m really quite intro, but have trained myself to be extro. Does that make sense?

    Since you don’t know me it’s hard to go into the reasons why, but mainly what I have reasoned is that I act very much like an extrovert as a coping mechanism of some sort. Many years ago I did a training and it labeled you as a Relator, Organizer, Entertainer, Commander. Everyone guessed I’d be a relator-organizer and much to my surprise (or I was in denial), I was an Entertainer-Commander. I tend to be an organizer when I’m in highly stressful situations (as a coping mechanism)….

    Blah, blah….just happy to know I’m not the only one confused. It sure would be nice if we were born with an explanation sheet of who God created us to be (but that would be no fun now would it?).

    Always a joy to read your posts. Look forward to studying James with you!

  3. Tracy

    Hi Marla – I love this idea of the name tags with a different theme each Sunday. What a great way of getting to know people, or even just conversation starters. I don’t really know where I fit into this category – not really an extrovert, but I have my moments, not an introvert, more an observer.

    I’ve been following you since I downloaded your e-book “husband’s getting lucky”. I know, I know, its meant for the hubby but I was curious. What I can say though, as I read it, my hubby’s not doing to badly on the whole showing me love thing. Makes me appreciate him more. I think a husband’s desire to please God is where things change for the better.

    On another point, I absolutely love the way you write, sense of humour, with a dash of sarcasm (every now and then), mixed with directness – my kind of read!

    God bless
    Tracy

  4. joyce

    I’m mostly an extrovert. I definitely need periods away from the crowds but the hubs and I both love people and enjoy being in groups and having people in our home etc. We are both comfortable in front of a crowd, my hubs especially. He never met a microphone he didn’t like : )

    On a completely unrelated note I know you periodically ask people if there is something you can pray for and my 16 year old niece was just diagnosed with leukemia so we’re all reeling here. Prayers are so appreciated if she should come to mind! Thanks! She has amazing faith and maturity. God is already working in a big way but as her mom says, we would have liked a pass on this one.

  5. Brooke

    i’m definitely both. i love talking. poor jay! but then sometimes in social situations i feel awkward. so i’m not really sure. i guess it depends on how well i know the people i’m around?

  6. Danielle

    I am a quiet extrovert, and my husband is a loud introvert. My parents and brother are all introverts, so growing up as the loud one of the family was a little awkward. I learned to enjoy time with them even if we weren’t doing a lot of talking. Now I love having a quiet house, but if I don’t talk to at least 3 people before my husband gets home from work I can make him lose his mind within minutes of walking in the door.

    He on the other hand is easily overwhelmed and drained by people, even when he seems to be enjoying the time with people. He grew up in a very extroverted family, so he’s pretty good at just being around people he loves, but dinner with the whole family can make him very eager to just sit in bed and read. A guy he works with talks to him non-stop all day sometimes, and on those days he comes home and just sits for a while enjoying the silence. But, he knows how much I need him to interact with me, so he usually asks if he can hold me for a little bit.

  7. Jen Hanson

    HOW are we so much alike?? Hahaha – you could have plucked this sentence right out of my head: “I’m an introvert in extrovert’s clothing a lot of the time. I feel like I should be a social butterfly, and I can play one really well, so I do. But, in reality, I’m way out of my comfort zone.”

    That is so me – and I was a THEATER major!

    Generally, I don’t like meeting new people and I won’t make the first step to introduce myself to someone I don’t know. I’m quiet and uncomfortable in large groups, or groups of people I don’t know well or don’t feel comfortable with. Except for the times when I over-compensate for how uncomfortable I feel and get all hyper, talkative and weird.

    On the other hand, I’m all kinds of bright and bubbly with my small, closest group of friends, except when I’m feeling pensive (or tired) and then I sit back quietly and observe.

    GENERALLY speaking, being with lots of people wears me out and interacting with a close friend or two energizes me. So would that make me a social-introvert but an intimate-extrovert?

  8. valerie (in TX)

    DEFINITE introvert! (ISFJ on the MBTI) I do NOT enjoy meeting new people (sounds awful, right?) or being in even a small group of people I don’t know. Totally sucks the life right outta me. But here’s the thing, if it’s a group of people I DO know pretty well, then I love it. Weird? Well…it’s because my love language is quality time, so spending time with people I know and love DOES fill me up. It’s just strangers or semi-strangers that drain me (heehee). 😉

    1. valerie (in TX)

      and….I don’t just “need time alone to rest and relax”….I crave it, suck it in like it’s my very life blood. Coming out of a social situation into alone time is like coming up for air to me! 🙂

  9. Candice

    Something that could help: My pastor’s wife told me and another very introverted friend that just because you are an introvert or an extrovert doesn’t mean you don’t need both time alone and time with others. Jesus did both; we need to do both. I am basically a textbook introvert as far as needing to recharge alone, but if I am alone for 2 days obviously I am going to want to be around people because we are created to have relationships. The reverse is true too because we are also created to have time abiding. Hope that helps some!

  10. Elizabeth

    I love studying personality types-it was my favorite part of counseling people. It’s invaluable to have the self-awareness to know what gives you energy and what drains you of energy.

    I am, without question, an introvert. I NEED time alone to feel sane. And that need is intensified lately because I am literally never alone. It’s very, very hard. But, I’m not shy. I’m not scared to meet new people and I actually do really well speaking to groups. Relationships with people are the most important thing in my life, second only to my relationship with Christ. I love people, and I love being around people, but it leaves me exhausted and in desperate need of time alone.

    Interestingly, every successful blogger I know is an extrovert. I think it’s a key component to being a successful blogger (as least as far as how “big” your blog becomes). And all of my closest friends are ENFP’s. I’m an ISFJ, but we get along great! And my daughter is off-the-charts extroverted. It’s fun being her mom, but I have to be intentional about making sure her social needs are met.

    Being equally introvert/extrovert is a gift, and it sounds like you have it!

  11. Suzy Louk

    I am a reserved/shy extrovert. Love being with people, feel energized etc. but I often feel like a wall flower in situations where I am not confident such as my husbands office events. I dread those.

  12. Claudia

    OK…definitely an extrovert but as I get older I find that I do appreciate some time alone. I thrive when I am with others and truly like to be with an eclectic range of personalities and backgrounds.

  13. Leigh

    Both! I’m usually charged after spending time with people but I do like having some alone time each day. While I was working as a social worker, I found myself becoming more introverted and wanting to spend less time with people. Now that I’m doing my own thing, my social life is approaching the busyness of my old Glory Days and I’ve been loving it! I’m not necessarily the most outgoing person but I am friendly and very intentional about my relationships and getting to know people better.

  14. Nina

    I am an INFP who scored as an extreme introvert on the MBTI, but I also love people. Well, at least I love them most of the time. If I’m around them too much, I start feeling like I hate them.

    If I’d been at your church, yesterday, I think my name tag would have said, “I am an introvert. Please leave me alone.” 😉

  15. Bethany

    I looked up the definitions on wikipedia and it sounds to me like you’re an ambivert (they actually have a name for people who are in-between!)

    I am an introvert, although many people seem surprised when I say that because I am friendly. Here is where the distinction lies (from wikipedia):

    “Introversion does not describe social discomfort but rather social preference: an introvert may not be shy but may merely prefer fewer social activities.”

    Definitely me! I need my alone time. I like being around people, but if I don’t have my space or a break, I feel miserable. I get my energy from being alone so I can go out and have a good time with others.

  16. Melissa

    I couldn’t tell you honestly. I have done all the personality tests that tell me I am an extrovert but I am pretty sure I’m NOT.
    Like you, I love people! I love speaking to them and teaching them, eating with them, laughing and crying with them…but it exhausts me. I need a day to recover from church before I want to see people again. Not sure what that says about me but i still am not sure if am intro or extro.

  17. ali

    Introvert. I gain energy from alone time – storing it up for the next time I’m around people who will suck it out of me once again (is it no wonder that I spend the two hours after church every Sunday in my bed reading while my kids nap?)

    But like you, Marla, I am outgoing. Most people don’t believe that I am an introvert because I am outgoing and social. I love people and relationships but the bottom line is that I need refueled via some serious peace and quiet.

  18. Sharon W

    Marla, as usual, I can so relate! I have friends that I have told that I’m an introvert and they argue with me that I’m not!!!! But, I do often feel drained after being around people. Though sometimes I am kind of hyper (can’t think of a better word) after spending time with a friend and have a hard time calming down enough to sleep afterwards. Don’t ask me what that’s about? So I usually say I’m an introverted extrovert or vice versa.

  19. Valerie

    Introvert…no question about that. I do fairly well one on one or in a very small group…add in more than that and I get overwhelmed and socially awkward.

  20. Megan@SortaCrunchy

    Did you post this just for me? Because you know I will talk for HOURS about this.

    Your friend is right. The primary litmus test for intro/extro is a holistic look at how you feel after being around a group of people – strangers or friends.

    I know that I am intrinsically extro because being around people leaves me feeling buzzed. Literally. Even if I am physically exhausted, I am still as charged as if I had downed a Red Bull.

    Now, here’s an interesting thing: of all of the E types, ENFP needs the MOST time to recharge privately. I look forward to and crave my downtime all by myself, but there is no denying how I feel when I come away from meeting with other people.

    A lot of people thing the intro/extro deciding factor is how you do in social situations in terms of being a social butterfly or a wall flower type. This is not accurate. You can be an extrovert and still have social anxiety about meeting new people. I know I do. But because I get charged up by it, I am more likely to crave connecting with these new people after I have met them (and because I am an NF type, I will pursue listening to their life stories so I can find a way to connect to them) and come away from the experience charged up, even if I was initially nervous/anxious about the event.

    It’s funny how people can switch back and forth with how people experience them. Kyle is a complete intrinsic introvert, but he has to play extrovert all day long at work. As soon as he comes home, he has to crawl into quiet, alone space to recover.

    So yeah. I could talk about this a lot. People fascinate me.

  21. Ben

    Up until 1.5 years ago (when I moved to college) I would most definitely have said I was an Introvert. Now, I’m not too sure. Your friend Tom doesn’t help me either! I feel like asking him “So Tom, what happens if my lifeblood seems to be those around me, but social events appear to be the scariest things since discovering the knives used to slice bread?”

    I’ve got my theory—I’ve met lots of people who claim to be Introverts, but from looking at them I’d swear they’re extroverts. I suspect all Introverts and Pseudo-extroverts, while labelling themselves as Introverts, label everyone who is more outgoing than them as Extroverts.
    Personally I think it runs on more of a scale and would propose a rating system between 0-10. But that would be too complicated, so I’m just going to say I’m on the lower end of Pseudo-extrovertism, Aka a Pseduo-introvert.

    I guess I thrive in groups containing under a dozen members (ideally around half a dozen), where over 70% of those members are well-known friends. I love being around people, but large groups leave me drained and stressed. I’m Okay in large groups (like Church) that meet for a unified purpose (that’s not socialising), but generally find it difficult to mingle in such settings.

    Off topic: I assume Guys are allowed to post here… if not, oops…I’ve kinda done the damage now!

  22. J

    I am most definitely an introvert. I was actually semi-dreading the time after my newest daughter was born because of all the company we would have.

  23. Ruth Chowdhury

    After years of thinking I’m an introvert, I finally think I know I am really an extrovert. I don’t like large crowds of ppl, nor do I like to be the center of attention (both of which my husband does like), BUT here is my “proof” of personal extrovertism. 😉

    When I have spent all day with friends/family on Friday, I then lead a small group Bible study. I am then completely energized by that & want to go out with my friend, then come back home & want to spend time with my husband. I like being around people. A lot. 🙂

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