Treading the Hamster Wheel Part 2: Life, Volume 4, January 27 – April 12, 2007

I started writing this section in my other post and about half-way through, decided it warranted it’s very own post as I’m intrigued by the topic and by people’s thoughts on the matter. Read on.

The Happy Introvert

Personal Development: Always curious to understand myself more, I picked up this book from the library on the recommendation of a friend. Called “The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child: Helping Your Child Thrive in an Extroverted World” by Marti Olsen Laney, the book seeks to explain the temperaments of introversion versus extroversion, positing that humans are hardwired at birth for one or the other, and discusses at great length about how parents can recognize and then assist their ‘innie’ child to succeed in an extroverted world. Apparently, for every innie, there’s three ‘outies’ – so extroverts dominate our culture and we, knowingly or not, benchmark kids against extroverted behavior. Whether one is an innie or outie is defined by how one derives, spends, and conserves energy. An introvert draws energy from within, while the extrovert is energized from the outside world – the author states this has nothing to do with shyness at all. Hmmm.

I was intrigued by this book, not because I’m a parent or plan to parent or plan to be around a lot of kids, but because I wanted some more data and another tool to help me understand myself. For many, many years I have struggled with my intense need for solitude and quiet time versus my love and enjoyment for social activity and friendship time. I’ve spun out of control many times after intense heavy social whirl periods and I’ve often wondered if I was meant to be in relationship because I tend to find it difficult to balance ‘me’ time, ‘we’ time, ‘friend’ time, and ‘everything else’ time. When I took the Myers/Briggs test years ago, I came out with a 50% rating on the extrovert/introvert continuum (I’m a ESFJ or ISFJ while Bruce is a INTJ) which was surprising because I’d always self-identified as a strong extrovert.

So what did all this reading and reflecting lead me to conclude? That I am probably a 50/50 innie/outie and my problem is that I’m leading an 80% extroverted lifestyle; hence, my struggles and grief from time to time. BALANCE is the key to my happiness and I need to make sure I’m scheduling A LOT of time for myself – to read, to rest, to do whatever I need to do to rejuvenate myself. I think as I’m getting older, I may be leaning a wee bit more towards the introverted side of the scale, which means even more down time is needed.

Bruce & I had a lot of fun going through our list of friends and trying to figure out what they were. Our conclusion was that we have a lot of introverted friends which was a bit surprising given the 25%/75% innie/outie ratio. When I expressed surprise to one of our close ‘innie ‘friends, she didn’t think this was unusual at all, saying that innies attract other innies and surround themselves with other like-minded people. Made sense to me.

So, friends, if you’re reading this and want to weigh in, I’m curious…. How do you self-identify on the Introvert/Extrovert continuum? Are there any outies out there?