Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert? A Few Ways to Figure out YOU.

Are You an Introvert or an Extrovert?

I’ve grown up in a home with parents that are on the extreme ends of this spectrum. My dad is a wise, quiet, extremely intelligent man who can be talkative and expressive but prefers, or at least is more often reserved and happy to be alone. My mom is the opposite. The woman loves parties, people, always has stories to tell and can be heard laughing all the time. I love that about her, but I also love my dad’s peaceful and much more contemplative existence.

I had always thought I needed to be one or the other; I couldn’t be both and whichever one I was I needed to figure it out and then either be like my dad or like my mom. Problem: I am like them, I’m like both of them and therefore, unlike either one. I have individual tendencies that I ignored for a long time as I struggled to fit into a definition of myself that didn’t fit.

Growing up I believed that I was an extrovert and that I needed to be hanging out with friends ALL THE TIME. I continued in that philosophy in high school and early college but as I began to progress in my education I realized that I preferred the quiet sanctum of the library to the noisy social areas on campus. I’d rather be inside, snug and secure amongst some cherished books than outdoors with . . . people.

Talking to a friend I told him, “Well, when I’m at school or work I can be extroverted but when I get home I’m introverted”. He said, “Molly, that’s not how it works, you’re introverted all the time but you’re able to socialize and enjoy it – the difference is that people drain you rather than excite you, but you can still like talking to them”  – in other words, being an introvert doesn’t mean I have to be stuck in a library all the time or that I should be an extremely socially awkward person. Thank goodness!

It’s taken me many years to come to the conclusion that I am an introvert; but I am learning that I am not my dad’s version of it. I am a blend of both my parents and while I lean much more strongly into the introverted spectrum I’ve realized that I’m allowed to feel like talking, socializing and going places – it doesn’t mean I’m being fake or insincere, it means I’m actually being more real, more ME than I’ve been before.

I see some of the differences this way,

You might be an extrovert if:

  • people energize you and make you feel alive
  • the idea of solitude is terrifying to you, you’d rather be with some good friends or out for a spontaneous evening of fun
  • you have many friends that are easy to keep up with and small talk doesn’t make you cringe

You might be an introvert if:

  • people drain your energy instead of replenish it
  • you enjoy times of solitude and seek them out as a treat for yourself
  • you are imaginative, perhaps romantic and probably sentimental – these are signs of your inner-self at work and parts of us that most extroverts I know don’t really access.

What are you?

If you still have questions about introversion or would like to know more about how it is being discussed in the media today check out this video link: Susan Cain: The power of introverts. The book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking also by Susan Cain (yes, the speaker in the video link) is available at your local bookstores and ready for you to peruse. She has some absolutely fascinating information and statistics on introversion and extroversion and no matter where you fall in this spectrum, her information will help you to understand yourself and those around you in a deeper and more insightful way.

So, be honest with yourself, where do you fall in this spectrum?

Has accepting this been difficult of you?

How do you appease your introverted/extroverted needs?

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

33 Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Molly…..Thanks for sharing your thoughts….I was reminded that the world is full of fake and insincere people….what we need are more people who are “real”…..people who have discovered that being real is about being yourself…and liking it…Good job, Mark

    • Molly says:

      Yes! Mark, I’ve found that whenever I venture into this kind of a conversation with someone it tends to get serious or personal really quickly and I’ve been privileged to share a lot of my own struggle with them. This simple sharing has resulted in countless moments of their confiding in me, coming to me for advice or encouragement, and I know it all goes back to my desire to be a “real sinner” in a world of people who don’t want to talk about it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  2. Molly, thank good you are not like your dad! We are all a melting pot of DNA aren’t we. The neat thing is even though we will inherit some traits from our parents both good and bad we are unique and nobody is like you.

    • Molly says:

      So true Chuck – not the part about my dad but that no one is like me!! I get hung up so often on who I am, how am I classified when really, I shouldn’t be wasting my time with definitions or restraints and instead just be me.
      Thanks for sharing Chuck!

  3. Cherry Schlange says:

    Molly–
    I, like Karilyn have known you only as an adult. I was fortunate enough to have you and Andy in Christmas Joy Kids, and I had the joy of standing right in front of you when you sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus!” What happened to the beautiful, long haired rudy cheeked little girl that I knew??? Especially the long hair!!! I am totally an introvert and have NOOOOOOOOOOOO extrovert in me at all. Hard for some to believe, but, like you, when I get around people I don’t know, or even sometimes people I do know, it is the easiest thing for me to get a drink of water in my big glass and just go sit in a corner and listen to everybody talk and “people watch” I love to people watch whether sitting on the swing on my deck, or at a restaurant, or in the mall. The mall is really the funniest and the most disturbing; I have trouble with people who can’t handle their own children without cursing or screaming, etc. I usually leave then and get in my car and come home to my Calico and peace and quiet. I have lived by myself, with my parents (as an adult) trying to have a disease diagnosed, and with my mother taking care of her for 4 years 24/7 (she has Alzheimer’s and is now happily down with my brother in an adult home). I am now alone and recovering from my time with my mom, and I am probably extra, extra introverted right now. I have all my doors and windows locked so not even my family can get in unless I want them to–of course, they all live in CA. so they don’t very often make it up to Bend, OR. Right now, I am happy with where I am. I have 2 very good friends-a husband and wife- with a 3 year old and a New Year’s Day babv! I have lots of fun with them and can talk to them about my problems. I would wish for maybe 2 or 3 more friends to go to dinner with or shopping with, but God has not seen fit to give those to me yet, and that is okay. I think he knows better than I when the time is right. I am sometimes lonely, but I have Callie and the Lord and His Word to chase the blues away! YOU have grown up into a beautiful, discerning young woman who was trained and brought up in the ways of the Lord by two of the most beautiful people I know. I just love your Mom and Dad and they taught me so many things throughout our times at Bethany. God couldn’t have given you two moreDIFFERENT, wise, spirit-discerning, loving people than your parents! I cannot believe you are an introvert that can play an extrovert with a big smile! Exactly what I do! I am almost glad that I am disabled and can no longer work or sing (a severe chronic problem with my larynx that cannot be fixed) because it makes being an introvert and living alone much easier. As Aunt Pat said, you learn to adjust to things and with God, who knows what one day will be possible!!! Thankx for the blog. So you’re also a writer, eh

    • Molly says:

      Cherry!
      I’m so ashamed that it has taken me this long to get back to you! As you know, you get caught up in the next project and unfortunately the house-keeping part of this one got put way back on the burner.

      What a joy to read your words, remember you & be blessed by you even this many miles away!

      We just did several postings on Alzheimer’s Disease, I had no idea how devastating it was and I truly have great admiration and compassion for you as you cared for your mother. The fact that you are “recovering” now is a good thing, a wise place to put yourself. I really think you go through trauma with a disease like that and I’m glad you are taking time for yourself to regroup as best you can.

      I’ll be praying for 1 or 2 more friendships to find you out. I know what you mean about wanting them but relying on God’s timing to prepare you for them & them for you. It’s special and I trust him to share you with others.

      Thank you again for writing to me Cherry, for remembering me, and for blessing me with your kind words, your story & your faith.

      Blessings on you!
      Molly

  4. Ms. Fran Cantor says:

    Hello Molly,

    I’m finding some Blog that are interesting to respond to even 2012. knowing you wont
    get to read this. When I was child I was an introvert and prayed a lot. as an adult i change
    a little after getting married and raising five children they brighten my life being married.
    Sorry to say after my adorable Husband pass away. I was hired at a position were my
    personality change a total turn around and now I’m an extrovert and love it . I can speck
    and smile at anyone because I love people and I don’t feel uncomfortable.

    My position as a receptionest just brought out on me, myself & I. Never thought I had it in me
    plus a sense of “HUMOR” which I like. I feel everyone at Martin aviation I met brough it
    out on me. I really met Soooooooooo Many people who were delightful to me and I just stood
    out and could not help myself . And did not want toooooo!!!! My life has change and I Love it!!!!
    This was a good one for me. Blessing!!

    Frannie

  5. Sharon Watkins says:

    Good to stop and think about…..I have concluded that I am both. And the older I get the more grateful I am that I have learned to be both!!! I love being and associating with people, but I am learning that I also need and want my alone time to just rejuvenate and meditate and renew! Probably so I can be extroverted again!!!

    • Molly says:

      So sounds like you are more of an extrovert but that you are learning to make time for pause and peace in your life. What a wonderful thing Sharon! I think so many people (especially extroverts) can miss out on that key component to a balanced and happier life. I aspire to be balanced like you & I’m thankful you shared!

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