Extrovert vs. Introvert
Our recent trip to Tulum, Mexico, was beyond incredible. We had the pleasure of staying at Hacienda Chekul and y’allllllllll . . . this place was an absolute dream. The staff was so warm and friendly that they felt like family. The house itself, outdoor showers, remote views, constant breeze, private beach, rooftop pool, plethora of hammocks, delicious food, and surrounding jungle gave it a unique charm. I experienced the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen. I felt as if God was painting the sky as I sat back and watched. That moment, as well as a few others, touched me on a spiritual level. I’ve never been that in tune with nature and it was a peaceful feeling to say the least. This trip came during a major transition in my life and the timing was perfect (as it always is, right?). I did a bit of self reflecting. I spent some time thinking about how much socializing with people could affect my energy one way or the other. Enter the inner dialogue of extrovert vs. introvert.
How do you define extrovert and introvert? As I researched this for myself, I realized that how I defined them all these years wasn’t completely accurate. I looked at extroverts as “outgoing” and introverts as “shy”. Well, not exactly. I also thought people were either one or the other. Wrong again. Think of it as a sliding scale. On one side of the scale is the extrovert, on the opposite side is the introvert, and where you fit on that scale can vary. Let me share a basic definition of both:
An extrovert loses energy when they spend time alone. They recharge their energy by socializing with other people.
An introvert loses energy after spending long periods of time with other people—especially groups. They recharge their energy by spending time alone.
I used to be all the way over on the extrovert side of the scale. Since a very young age, I loved being around people. My motto was “the more, the merrier!” I invited people I knew from different cliques to my parties because I loved introducing them. In high school and college, I chose where I hung out based on how many people were there. If the crowd wasn’t big enough, it was on to the next! When I walked in somewhere, I made rounds to say hello to as many people as possible. When I wanted to go out on the town, I had a revolving list of people I called until someone agreed to go with me. It makes me tired thinking about it now. But back then, being in the presence of others energized me! Social interactions—even with strangers—strengthened my spirit.
When the last years of college hit, there was a small shift. All that human connection gave me lots of energy for weeks or months at a time. Then, out of the blue, I wouldn’t leave my house for days. You could find me on the couch, cuddled up with my doggie, watching DVDs (“Sex and the City” was a fave), and not answering my phone. I didn’t want any social interaction and I completely avoided it. What I didn’t understand at the time was all that socializing had started draining my energy. I realized later that these down times of introversion were a way of re-charging my levels back to 100%. This was an ongoing cycle for most of my twenties and early thirties. I see now that I was slowly sliding on that scale. I was moving towards the middle and away from the far side of being an extrovert.
About 3 years ago, my life started transforming. People that were once very important to me became not important at all. I was purging superficial relationships and making room for new, more significant relationships. Therefore, my inner circle decreased and lemme tell you what . . . this one little thing right here was the biggest blessing. About 3 years ago, my life began to transform. I became aware that time is my most precious resource and every second of it should be spent wisely. People that were once very important to me became not important at all. I was purging superficial relationships and making room for more significant ones. Therefore, my inner circle decreased and lemme tell you what . . . that one little thing was the biggest blessing. My physical and spiritual health became a priority. I started pursuing my passion of becoming a Life Coach. My interests and hobbies became more intentional. I no longer wanted a lot of surface level conversations. I desired deep, meaningful ones. I was spending a lot more time solo—meditating, reading, writing, watching tv, being outside, and thinking or reflecting. And not because I had to, but because I wanted to. I LOVED spending time by myself because the more I gave to myself, the more I could give back to myself and others.
Things like keeping my social calendar full, hanging with people out of obligation, and going out just because it was the weekend stopped for me. They were draining my time and energy. It became very clear that I was giving too much energy away because I wasn’t being deliberate with my time. I had to be more mindful of what and who received it. There were less nights spent out on the town and more staying in with my boo. And I was ALL about it. But when I did choose to go out, to the right place and with the right people, I enjoyed it so much more. Wait. What the hell was happening? I was slowly morphing from being all super extrovert to a mixture of super extrovert and powerful introvert. Whoa.
I learned that there is a name for that. It’s called an ambivert!
An ambivert is a person whose personality has a balance of both extrovert and introvert features. They can lean one way or another depending on mood or context.
There are times when I love to be around people. I can talk and socialize for hours and it makes me feel amazing. I get a buzz from all the human energy in the room. Then there are times when I get drained from being around people and I just need to be alone. Time by myself feeds my soul and brings me back to life. I thoroughly enjoy my company :) And then there are times when I just want to be around one or two people so I can deeply connect through conversation. I am not to the far left or to the far right of the sliding scale . . . I am in the middle.
Going from a “social butterfly” to a “social when I wanna be butterfly “ took some adjusting. But just like everything in life, you have to find your balance. If I’m feeling extroverted, I now choose when, where, and with whom. It’s very intentional. When those moments emerge, my super extrovert turns on and I love every second of it. When I’ve had too much human interaction and the inner Lindsay is like, “Hey! I’m exhausted. Come spend time with me!”, my powerful introvert kicks in, pulls up a couch, and chills the fuck out. I also love every second of that. I appreciate that I can slide back and forth across that scale. I just have to listen to what I need in every moment and honor it. So if you invite me somewhere and I say no, don’t take it personally . . . my inner self just made a better offer.