I’ve been reading a book about parenting lately that explores, among other things, how to embrace and engage your “spirited child.” We have one of those. A delightful little kid who has TONS of spirit. So we’re trying to figure out how to utilize that spirit in the most positive way we can. You see, my in-laws both spent their entire careers trying to better the lives of children. Not their own, though they did a damn good job at that, too. So when they speak about and give guidance on what to provide children with at young age, I listen. Intently. The recurring theme is this: focus on their strengths and use those strengths to overcome or minimize any weaknesses. It’s not a very complicated theme, but some of the stories I hear from about their work seems to indicate that many parents weren’t able to embrace that simple theme.
Once again, I’m getting sidetracked. This book I’m reading goes into fairly specific detail about introverts and extroverts. I began thinking about my own personality traits as I really explored the two supposed opposites. What I found was that I have most definitely lean towards introvert, but I do have some extrovert tendencies.
Let’s go to Wikipedia for some more detail. My responses below are in bold:
- Gain energy when they are alone – hell yes
- Derive energy from the inner world, ie, feelings, ideas, impressions – yep
- Are good listeners – nope, but I’m trying
- Think before you do or say – most of the time
- Maintain more eye contact while listening to someone than when you speak to him – big time yes
- Have little interest, but any interest is very immersed – nope
- Only deep relationships with others is called “friendship” – yes
- Prefer to talk face to face than in the group – oh lord yes
- Speak slowly, with pauses – no
- That they need silence to concentrate, do not like it when they interrupt the work or any other activities (eg, ringing phone) – pretty much
- Benefit from long-term memory, which often have the feeling of “lightheadedness” and may have trouble finding the right words during a conversation. yes
- Better than extroverts to cope with tasks requiring attention – perhaps, but I’m not convinced
- Easier to learn than by reading a conversation with others – yes
- Prefer to reveal their inadequacy wit and mismatch – yes bigtime
- Work the same regardless of whether they are praised or not, – nope, love praise
- May have difficulty remembering faces and names – big yes, but can remember almost ANY phone number
So you can see that I have a lot introverted features. I am generally very uncomfortable talking and participating in large groups and prefer smaller groups or one-on-one. It’s not like I start to shake and pee myself in large groups, it’s just not my preference. I try my best. I absolutely LOVE spending time with myself. Which isn’t to say I ALWAYS need to be alone, but having time to myself does get me re-energized and always has. I spent a lot of time by myself as a child, so perhaps I got used to it and embraced it.
Now, an extrovert, according to Wikipedia:
is the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self. Extroverts tend to enjoy human interactions and are generally enthusiastic, talkative, assertive and gregarious in social situations. They take pleasure in activities that involve large social gatherings such as: parties, community activities, public demonstrations, business, and political groups. Politics, teaching, sales, managing and brokering are fields that favor extroversion. An extroverted person enjoys and becomes energized by larger groups of people while time alone is less enjoyable and boring to them.
This is not me. For the most part. I believe very much that I have some extroverted tendencies. I do enjoy human interaction very much. In small groups. There are times when I am very talkative, though you have to know me quite well. Other than that, nothing in that description fits me very well. It’s all very interesting stuff. More from Wikipedia – and this pretty much nails it on the head for me:
Although extroverts and introverts have real personality and behavior differences, it is important to avoid pigeonholing or stereotyping by personality. Humans are complex and unique, and because extroversion varies along a continuum, they may have a mixture of both orientations. A person who acts introverted in one scenario may act extroverted in another, and people can learn to act “against type” in certain situations. Jung’s theory states that when someone’s primary function is extroverted, his secondary function is always introverted (and vice versa).
So I see facets of both traits in my own children. I will, in observance and the experience of what my in-laws have told me, do my best to have my children embrace their strengths and whether they are introverts or extroverts doesn’t really matter because one isn’t better than the other. But it’s fun to delve into this stuff again (I studied and minored in Sociology in college). Yes, by the way, I have taken the Myers-Briggs test. I came out as an INFP, but was extremely close to ENFP. So there you have it. Your complete reading of my personality. Fascinating, I know. Or not.