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Which Is Better: Extroverts or Introverts

Neither. The answer is neither.

The same answer applies to these questions: Who reads more? Who exercises more? Who likes more guacamole from Chipotle?

'Extrovert' and 'introvert' are consistently misused in everyday conversations to mean someone who is more outgoing or someone who is shy. However those things are not the same.

Extroverts are not necessarily the outgoing, talkative, life of the party; just as introverts are not necessarily the shy and reserved bookworm at the back of the class.

What these terms mean, is where someone gets their energy from. An extrovert feels energized when they are around others and drained when they are alone for long periods of time, while introverts get energy boosts from alone time and feel more drained the longer they are with others.

 “Conversation” by Camille Pissarro from Wiki Commons

“Conversation” by Camille Pissarro from Wiki Commons

And while they are on opposite ends of a sliding scale, most people lie within the middle and exhibit traits of both in different settings.

For instance, an introvert might not feel drained at all during a weekend camping trip with three of their closest friends, while an extrovert might need a few hours alone after a full workday to refresh.

Most people understand this idea generally, but start to get confused when discussing how being outgoing or shy is a separate part of one's personality from their extroversion/introversion.

An extrovert can be shy and reserved, while an introvert can be talkative and outgoing. They are not mutually exclusive. People just tend to assume that anyone who draws energy from others would be outgoing while anyone more inclined to alone time would be reserved, which is inaccurate.

I for one, used to be very shy as a child and was often mistaken as an introvert. To the point where when I eventually realized I was an extrovert, old friends and teachers didn't believe me. This is because they didn't understand that I still got energy from being around others, even if I wasn't necessarily engaging with them.

However, a lot of extroverts do work hard to be seen as outgoing if they are naturally more shy, like I did. This is because it's hard to meet people and engage with others if you are extremely shy, making it more difficult for you to gain that energy boost you need. Introverts on the other hand don't necessarily feel the need to be as social or outgoing, since they feel drained after long periods with others anyways. If an introvert is shy to begin with, they just may not put as much importance in learning those skills as a shy extrovert would. Meanwhile an outgoing introvert can choose to utilize those skills when they want.

That being said, anyone can be as outgoing or gregarious as they want. Social skills are built, like any other skill, with practice. Someone will always have a natural talent, but by working hard anyone can achieve their goal of being an Antisocial or Social Butterfly.

The path is yours!

Until next time,

Caitlin