Introversion and Extroversion

But mostly introversion.  Why?  Because I am an introvert.

I’ve become much more knowledgeable on this subject recently.  Assuming Wikipedia is a scholarly source, which it kind of is.  A friend of mine in high school actually did a report on the reliability of Wikipedia good enough to convince his English teacher to allow their class to cite it as a source.  Or something like that.

Learning more about introversion has helped me to be more comfortable with the decisions I make in life, which are usually influenced by my introversion.  However, at the same time I have surprised myself by becoming somewhat more extroverted.  I like to spell extroversion with an “o.”  I’m not quite sure why this is.  My unexpected extroversion, not why I like to spell it that way.  Although I honestly couldn’t tell you that either.

I think that learning about things in general, though particularly things that bother or concern you, help you to be more at ease with your environment.  After all, fear is only not knowing, right?  When you are afraid of the dark, it is uncertain whether or not a monster will eat you.  When you are being chased down a narrow alley by a crazy person wearing a hockey mask and carrying a chainsaw, you are unsure as to whether you will escape or become inspiration for a cheesy horror movie.  Therefore, because I am more at ease with my environment, I am more open to garnering attention through extroversion.  At least that’s one explanation.

I suppose I ought to admit that I’m somewhat shy as well.  Shyness usually has a negative, weaker connotation than introversion though.  That’s partially because introversion is more of a choice – introverts tend to avoid company because they don’t like it, not because they’re afraid of it.  I have some of both, which is very detrimental when I try to make new friends.  That’s why I tend to stick with friends I already know rather than meet new people.  I’m fine if you come up and start talking to me, I’m just not very likely to go up and talk to other people if I haven’t already gotten to know them.

Introversion is also a good excuse for my apathy.  If you know me at all, you know that I don’t often get very excited.  Sure I’ll laugh a lot, and I’ll crack a grin if I really like something, but other than that my expressions are pretty neutral.  At least from what remember.  Generally extroverts tend to be happier people period.  Possibly that’s because they’re so engaged with loving life, getting attention, and focusing on others that they forget about negative things they experience.  Because I’m not easily distracted from myself when in the company of others, I tend to think very realistically.  I have come to terms with a lot of my talents and flaws, as well as the positives and negatives of life experiences.  I would like to think I know myself and my environment rather well.  Because I know myself and where I am, I don’t have as much fear, so I don’t get excited.  Excitement is part of fear, right?  Excitement is also positive, and because I remember more negatives than others, my feelings are more neutral.  Maybe I should do something about that.

Additionally, I am most emotionally vulnerable (as in, likely to show emotion) when I’m by myself.  I’m not sure why that is either.  When I’m with others I tend to be rather guarded, but when I’m alone I’m more open.

I can think of two environmental reasons that might affect my level of introversion.  The first has to do with a number of experiences where I’ve said something stupid and have become embarrassed.  Because of the negative response I received from speaking up, I refrained from doing so more though out my life.  Even today I refrain from saying some things that I might would have otherwise because I think that they’ll be stupid.  Sometimes I find out I was right, and it would have been embarrassing, and other times I realize I had nothing to be afraid of.  And then there are those times where I actually do say stupid things and regret it.

The second reason is my extremely sheltered life.  Not only was I the first child of two devout Latter-day Saints, I was the only child for three years and lived with only boys (besides my mom) for nine before my first sister was born.  Because of this, I knew nothing about girls besides what the last generation told me, and even less about anything immoral when going into school.  All my survival knowledge I had to learn the hard way.  My little brother doesn’t know how lucky he is to have me tell him everything important that he needs to know.  As it is, he’s getting along with his social life a lot better than I am.  Yes, I’m jealous.  Luckily I came to BYU, where I’ve learned the majority of my social skills from friends I’ve made here.  Maybe I’m not prepared to meet the rest of the big, bad world, but at least I have someplace to start.

So there you have it.  If you’re ever wondering why someone (like me) is usually more quiet, neutral, or disinterested, I’d wager it has something to do with introversion and shyness.  The best thing you can do for them (me) is involve them (me) in your conversation.  Asking them (me) direct, thoughtful questions and giving them (me) time to answer is exactly what they (I) want.  That’s why I’m best at talking to people one on one – there is more time to gather my thoughts and say something more carefully.  If you feel guilty because you haven’t done this, good.  You can still repent.

–Brandon

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