Some introverts can’t hide out even when it’s their mission | Latte Guy | Oct. 21
October 21, 2011 · 12:01 PM
The woman who is my wife and I have slightly different personality types when it comes to meeting new people.
For example, when Wendy walks into a room full of people she doesn’t know, she becomes energized and acts as though everyone in the room is an old friend she is meeting for the first time.
On the other hand, when I walk into a room full of people I don’t know, I assume they are all secretly plotting to steal my kidneys and leave me unconscious in a hotel bathtub filled with ice. You know, sort of like how it felt back in college going to a frat party.
From this subtle difference in how we approach meeting strangers, one might conclude that I am an introvert and Wendy is an extrovert. I wouldn’t disagree with that diagnosis for Wendy, but I don’t think I’m an introvert. I see myself as just a normal person with a healthy regard for retaining his kidneys.
In point of fact, I have a drawer full of Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator assessments on which I not only received passing grades, but on which I consistently showed an aptitude for such traditionally extrovert-oriented fields as sales and marketing, assuming I could find a job in sales or marketing that didn’t actually require me to sell or market anything to anybody.
Respected psychologists and Wikipedia both say extroverts tend to be gregarious, assertive and interested in seeking out external stimulus while introverts tend to be introspective, quiet and less sociable.
Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions, are enthusiastic, talkative, and take pleasure in social gatherings, community activities, and asking complicated questions just as the tying run is coming to the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning of an important Mariners loss.
They often go into teaching, politics or sales, and usually have lots of numbers on their cell phone speed dials. I have eight.
Introverts, on the other hand, tend to be more reserved and less outspoken in groups. They enjoy solitary activities such as reading, writing and reading about writing. Introverts typically hate small talk and cell phones, and often become artists, writers, engineers and, occasionally, psychotic loners and/or postal workers.
History is full of notable introverts. The solitude-loving Henry David Thoreau said that he would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to himself than be crowded on a velvet cushion. Winston Churchill said solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong.
Contrary to popular misconception, being an introvert is not the same thing as having a mental illness. And all introverts are not necessarily socially awkward or uncomfortable in large groups, although some of us are both socially awkward and uncomfortable in any group larger than one that can comfortably fit around a poker table.
My own view is that most people exhibit tendencies of both extroversion and introversion at times depending on the circumstances, the available stimulants, and the proof and quantity involved.
Some quiet people I know are inwardly outgoing, you might even say gregarious, at least on the cellular level.
All of this is interesting food for thought, using the term “interesting” here in the loosest possible sense.
I do know that most people who fit the profile of an introvert hope that, if there is a Heaven, it is very much like a large library or a cozy bookstore, while people like the extrovert who is my wife hope Heaven is like an endless free concert at the Grand Old Opry.
I can deal with a Heaven like that. Provided I can sit in the back row, of course.
Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.