Whenever I forget what personality type I am, I ask A.R. She has an uncanny memory for people’s type, which is good because I always forget whether I’m an N or an S. A.R. is one of my closest friends and happens to be a personality type guru. Not only is she writing about introversion on Primitive Roads today, she’s also guest posting for Kindred Grace about being an ISTJ on October 28th. Don’t miss it!
Performing The Extrovert
I love people’s laughs, people’s genuine laughs. I’m hesitant to say it’s my favorite thing about people, so I’ll just say it’s one of my favorite things. I have a distinct mental image of what each of the people close to me looks like when they laugh. They’re all so different. And all so raw, like little glimpses into parts of us that we don’t consciously make known. It’s an indulgence in a moment that’s like this trifecta of pleasure, relief, and a deepening of friendship.
Figuring out what makes people laugh – I love that too. There are things that you will find that the majority find funny. However, people have very individual senses of humor. Something that makes one person laugh can be offensive to the next. Or even beyond them how what was said could be construed as even remotely humorous. Which is funny.
I am an introvert. However, I have often been mistaken for my counterpart, and understandably so. For if I was not me, but rather, a mere observer of myself watching myself act the way I act in groups, I would probably give the same assessment; I am capable of performing the extrovert, and I do so primarily for the sake of two desired outcomes: relational depth and producing the connection that comes from laughter between individuals.
The modern field of psychology has termed that the “free trait theory.” This theory holds that we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits, however, we can, and do, act out of character for something that we consider important. And because I deeply value close relationships and laughing, I act out this theory; I perform the extrovert. However, at the end of the day, as much as I perform or at certain times desire to be an extrovert, I’m an introvert. American psychologist Barry Schwartz who is quoted in Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, speaks to this as he says, “our inborn temperaments influence us regardless of the life I lead…our free will will only take me so far.”
Sometimes I feel like my iPhone. I see my energy levels in terms of my phone’s battery. Inevitably, my phone will run out of battery and cease to function. And no amount of battery saving tactics will keep it alive longer. Even if I figuratively close all my apps, dim the brightness and put myself on airplane mode, I have to leave and go recharge, or else I’ll die. At the very least, cease to function. This is why there are times that I have wished I was an extrovert. There are times where I wish that I got energy from doing what I love. Doing one of the things that I love – spending time alone is a close if not better competitor. And in an attempt to resolve this internal conflict, I have spent much time trying to understand the stimulation that I get from my extroverted self. And I have come to the conclusion that in order to live in a world that goes against my inborn temperament, I must be very intentional about how I situate myself in social environments. There are times when I know that I’m not going to be able to recharge for a longer than ideal amount of time, and in those situations I enter in with a pace yourself mindset.
I’ve been called out on this internal conflict on multiple occasions by those close to me. And having this observance voiced has made me rethink my introverted preferences on more than one occasion, and sit with this dichotomous way of being more than I normally would have. And I have come to the conclusion that in order to get to that level of relational depth and that connection that I deeply long for with others, I must balance the extremities of being a social performer and a borderline recluse. I must fight to become more conscious of my ideal situations of stimulation. Which, even after much analysis, never cease to surprise me and leave me realizing that there are so many parts of myself that I have yet to understand and perhaps, even know.
A.R. Hamilton is almost finished with her second Masters Degree from CSU San Bernardino. When she’s done, she’ll have an MA in Education with a focus in curriculum and instruction and concentration in English and an MA in Composition and Rhetoric. When she’s not in school, A.R. is mentoring high school girls or learning more about personality types. She blogs at Yours January.
This post contains an affiliate link. Thanks for supporting Primitive Roads!