“I’m glad no one’s here just me by the sea
I’m glad no one’s here to mess it up for me
I’m glad no one’s here just me by the sea
But man, I wish I had a hand to hold”
~ Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians
I’ve always thought of the concepts of introvert and extrovert to as on a continuum.
I imagine it as a long bar with extreme introvert on one end and extreme extrovert on the other end and the majority of us floating somewhere along the line, our spot on the continuum shifting as we grow and evolve.
The definition I like for introvert and extrovert is this:
Introverts get energized from being alone and extroverts get energized by being with people.
I know this is very general, but you add it with the continuum concept that it allows a lot of room for individuality.
For my entire life I have been an introvert wannabe: I am a natural extrovert who has wished I could just be happy being alone.
I think this is why I chose a pretty extreme introvert as my life partner.
I don’t understand him, but I admire him.
He rarely needs other people. He likes people and enjoys their company but he does not think about people nor does he plan his life around people.
Once when we were talking about the concept of introvert and extrovert he asked me—as the resident extrovert in our relationship—“But how do you calm down?”
I laughed out loud at this question and answered, “We don’t care about calming down.” I told him, “My friends and I would just keep going, talking and joking all night if we thought we wouldn’t be exhausted and sick the next day.”
(Okay, sometimes we do it anyways.)
Although no one would ever call me an introvert, I love being alone and always have.
I would never be described as shy or quiet.
All of the report cards I ever got from school used the word enthusiastic—the kinder meaning, rather than the one one that alludes to being hyper. I am usually considered quite talkative and I have to work hard to keep my voice from being overly loud.
However, still I need time alone.
We all do.
I have always walked alone, either in cities or in nature.
Today I spent the entire afternoon picking wild cranberries alone.
I think what extroverts need to remember is that we make good company. We are interesting, witty and entertaining. This is part of what makes us extroverts. This is why we should sometimes save all of our own goodness for ourselves.
The challenge is that as extroverts we get lonely easily. Being alone can easily become synonymous with thinking that no one loves us or wants to be with us.
But all this means is that as extroverts we should get better at feeling lonely so we can push through the initial rawness that loneliness carries and dig into the juicy great stuff on the other side of a little bit of heartache.
On the other side of loneliness we find ourselves listening to our own thoughts, connecting with our own feelings, being free to sing out loud, having time to laugh at ourselves, having space to be weird without anybody else commenting.
We have a certain kind of freedom when we are alone that we can’t get when we are around other people.
A freedom our soul needs to feel at home.
I don’t particularly believe in the concept of balance. I don’t think there is a way to plan our life so that we have the social time we need and the alone time we need.
But I do think we all need both, introverts and extroverts alike.
So, all you extroverts out there, go wild.
Laugh out loud and party hard and tell your story so loudly that the whole party can hear you.
We all love an awesome extrovert.
But don’t forget to lie in bed alone, go for a walk alone, sit at a cafe and make eye contact with nobody.
Each of us will only gain the value of alone time if we choose to take it.
Author: Ruth Lera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: rueful at Flickr