AuGuest: My Response to Noel

On Monday, Noel Rozny wrote about how despite being an extrovert, she sometimes, especially in recent times, feels the need to withdraw and take some time to herself to look inward for strength. That there was a little bit of introvert in her, despite being an extrovert all of her life. She touched on an important universal truth, though many people would not accept its universality. The entire concept is in fact summed up quite well in the title of her post; “A Whole Lot of ‘E’ And a Little Bit of ‘I'”

In her excellent book, Introvert Power, Dr. Laurie Helgoe makes use of the ancient Yin-Yang symbol to illustrate that inside every extrovert there are aspects of introversion. And yes inside every introvert are aspects of extroversion. No well adjusted, healthy person is 100% either temperament, no matter how it may appear on the surface. (Nor how much one may object to the possibility.)

For some people, whether extroverted or introverted, it is easier to see the aspects of the “other side.” That is because introversion and extroversion are measured on a spectrum. Within the entire demographic of healthy introverts in the world, some will be closer to the extrovert border, and go to parties frequently, let’s say. It will exhaust them, but they will find it worth the investment. Then there are introverts who never go to parties and prefer to spend every Friday night at home, alone with a book or movie, inviting or visiting only one or two select friends once in a while. Both types are introverts, just at different points along the spectrum. In the first example, it is not difficult to detect the yang amoung the yin, as it were. In the second example, we may never see the extroverted. But it exists.

And as Noel proved, the concept of yin-yang and spectrum exists for extroverts as well.

I don’t know where on the spectrum of extroversion Noel falls. The irony is to know where one falls on either spectrum requires some introverted introspection time, which extroverts have to approach when the time is right, but introverts approach by virtue of being awake. So I leave it to Noel to explain or explore how far on the extrovert spectrum she can be found. I can however explore the topic as applied to myself, and share with you readers when this introvert has his extroverted tendencies.

Let us say that the introvert spectrum can be measured on a scale of one to ten. A “one” would live on the border town with extroversion. A “ten” would remain content to live a monastic existence with their family and a library on a secluded mountain for 11 months out of the year for the rest of their lives. Yours truly tends to be left of center on the spectrum towards introversion. I put myself somewhere between a six and seven depending on what I have been doing, or how life in general is going.

This means my extroverted tendencies can be detected, if one is looking. But they require certain circumstances to come about.

For example, my trace of extroversion means that I do not wish to spend huge amounts of time alone at one time. I require alone time each day, sometimes quite a bit of it. Especially at the end of a long day, or at the start of a day that I know will be particularly trying or unusual. Only with that time to myself can I begin to sort out the sensations and thoughts that come about. Yet I can begin to feel lonely and a tad depressed if I have been around nobody for days or weeks at a time.

As an introvert I am in an almost constant state of introspection and looking inward. That’s sort of what we do, you know. Yet unlike some introverts who can be sustained forever by doing that, I need a break from myself sometimes. To prevent being sunk into my own ennui I need to be among other people. Friends works better than family, because my family members tend to spend a lot of time sunk in their own ennui. Yet if I have been alone for long enough I will go over to Mom’s, just for another presence outside of my mind. It doesn’t always work, because as I said sometimes Mom and I have the same tendencies. Yet when the sound of silence gets too great, it works in a pinch.

It is sometimes my only choice, because most of my best friends are not accessible, and those that are are often so busy, I don’t get to see much of them despite their being only 30 minutes away or so. And for whatever the reasons, I do not get visits from anyone else most of the time. So when this introvert needs to re-calibrate by interacting with people and us unable to do so, you can imagine how frustrating it can all be. I have known for years that I need more local friends to whom I can go whenever I feel this way, but as yet I have not been able to make such friends with ease. (I am an introvert after all.)

Another way in which I behave more like an extrovert sometimes is when seeking a solution to certain problems.

In general, introverts do not think out loud. (In most cases, I certainly don’t.) Introverts will speak once they have thought of something cogent to say. Extroverts on the other hand will continue speaking until they have something cogent to say. Sometimes without breathing. It can be overwhelming to an introvert.

Yet there are times when I find it not only necessary but preferable to explore an idea from start to finish by talking it through out loud.Granted the framework for my comments will often have been already built within my mind as a result of typical quiet introverted reflection. Yet the flesh and bone of a solution or approach often feels more useful when I talk it out with other interested parties in the extroverted way of processing. I find this most often happens during a creative collaboration such as a theatre production. But even then only if the other parties are people I know I can trust. If I don’t know them or trust them, my creative thinking will remain set on “introvert”.

I am sure there are other times where for a moment, or for the sake of a specific task I can bring out more of the extrovert minority within my psyche. Yet I have given what I feel are the best two examples of the yang among the yin within my personality. The point of course is that for everyone on both sides there is a little of both. No matter what side of the “troversion” fence you fall on, an understanding that there is a little of your type in the other can lead to better understanding of and perhaps better relations with people you otherwise might not have related to.

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5 Comments

  1. Ty, you do such a great job fleshing out the continuum here, I love it. I think so many aspects of humanity fall into this plane, versus the black/white way we tend to approach things. As you said so well, knowing how much of each opposing force you have in you allows you to know yourself better, and be more at home at wherever you are in the world.

  2. Thanks Noel. That is why I like the yin-yang symbol, not just for this but for so many aspects of the humanity personality. Rarely if ever is a person wholly one thing or the other. We are mixtures. Even if the mixtures are tiny, they are there.

  3. When my bf took the MBTI and I scored it, he came out as an E, but the least E you could be. I nearly fell on the floor bc I pegged him as a full I. It is all about spectrum. Though I still believe him as an I. 🙂

  4. So well said. It's so easy to get caught up in “I'm an introvert, she's an extrovert.” That's way too simplistic.

    I think people are moving within that scale every single day — introverts and extroverts. And changes will be made over a lifetime as well. The first time I took the MBTI, I think my score was 0 for extroversion and 22 for introversion. But I'd like to take it again now, because I think the score would be different.

    Saying that everyone is on the continuum kind of levels the playing field, I think. No one is just one or the other. We're not as different as we think we are.

  5. Diana- Sometimes we can't be sure which type someone is just by outer appearances! Especially if someone is near the border.

    Susan-Yes. Most people move around on the spectrum a little bit each day. An introvert can be more or less introverted depending on what is going on. So can an extrovert, and that one is easier to forget.

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