When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we had to do the Myers Briggs personality test. It was an interesting experience. We found out that we are nearly identical in terms of planning, goals, and priorities. Where we differed (A LOT!) was in our personalities. It wouldn’t take anyone long to figure out that I’m an extrovert and he’s an introvert, but we got some numbers on it. While he’s 80% introverted, I’m 90% extroverted – practically polar opposites! How we make our different personalities work is the topic for another conversation, but recently we have been talking more about introvertism and extrovertism and I’ve come to some really life-changing conclusion.
It all started when he came across this article on introverts at work. While it paints a rather negative image of extroverts (that’s entirely untrue for many extroverts), it does a great job talking about introverts and many of their traits. I found it interesting in many ways because it explained so many traits applicable to introverts that I, as an extrovert, never really understood. What it also did, however, was begin to open my eyes about what being an extrovert means for me.
Not long ago (in the last month or two), I had one particularly difficult evening during which a few friends made some passing comments about my presence on social media. I’m incredibly sensitive about this issue as I feel uncomfortable sharing footage of me – especially on Instagram stories. I immediately started crying and lost all my composure for the rest of the night. It was tough.
The next day I started to pick my head up again, but the comments and their critiques (though not ill-intentioned at all) really stuck with me for weeks to come. What I couldn’t figure out, however, was why they felt so comfortable telling me these things and then why I was so upset. With our conversations about introverts and extroverts, however, it all started to come together.
As a strong-willed and extroverted person, I’m often misunderstood even by those who ‘know me well.’ Because of my sometimes boisterous personality, many people can mistake me for having impervious emotions – that my feelings don’t get hurt. They think I’m tough; I’m strong-willed and therefore independently minded; that I don’t care what other think about me or say to me. To be honest, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Growing up as the youngest of six, I can obviously hold my own, but I take many things to heart – especially comments from those with whom I’m close.
In all these conversations with my husband and friends about introverts and extroverts, I’ve been coming to realizations (almost daily for a while there). I’m gaining a better hold on what my extroverted personality means for who I am. As I mentioned above, I’m realizing why some social media is really difficult for my ‘social butterfly’ personality. I’ve also been learning about my relationships with introverts (my husband, siblings, and friends) and how I push my way of thinking into their reality, thinking we all operate the same way.
I don’t have a magical solution to this reality, but I do feel the need to write something. I’m realizing that many other extroverts also have experiences in which their feelings are seen as unyielding and their strong, talkative personalities are too often mistaken for not being vulnerable to criticism. There seems to be a lot written about understanding introverts and yet I think there are just as many misunderstandings and assumptions about us extroverts. Oftentimes I see the introvert-focused articles portraying us extroverts in a terrible light and in truth we need everyone and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.
Anyway, without much rhyme or reason, I wanted to put this out their in the cosmos in case you’re an extrovert like me who gets run down by others seeing you as unaffected by criticism (well-intentioned or otherwise).