Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introverts and Extroverts

Often the initial imagery you get upon hearing the words introverted or extroverted, are that introverts are shy and keep to themselves, and extroverts are friendly and outgoing and go along with anything.

Not that those things aren't true, but it's only a small part of what is really a very complex label.

I keep stumbling across posts online and books talking about the varied levels of what exactly introverts and extroverts are and it's been really eye opening in understanding the way Toby reacts to things and also understanding myself.

An Introvert can be shy, yes, but it has more to do with how you build energy for yourself to make it through the day. Introverts need time alone to think/read/watch tv/write/sleep in order to feel ready to go out into the world.
Extroverts on the other hand need to collect energy from those around them and when they are left alone tend to get agitated and moody. They need to be talking and working and interacting with people to keep up their motivation.

I've always said I was an introvert, which I still believe I am, but I'm also realizing I have many extroverted tendencies. I like discussing things out loud and often need to do this before making a decision. I talk with  my hands. I like being with people and gain from the energy transfer that comes with a hug. I like going out and doing things and seeing new places.
But at the root of it all, I need my time alone. I'll often catch myself leaving the room suddenly while Toby's playing or watching tv. I like plying with Toby but suddenly I'll have a 'No, don't touch me' reaction. I feel like I need my time to just aimlessly scroll through the internet or watch a movie or read before I go to bed. I dread calling people on the phone. I feel exhausted after a day in town, even if we didn't do much.

I've also always said that Toby is an introvert, but am beginning to realize that i think I'm wrong. He certainly has very introverted tendencies; He does not meet people easily and it often takes him close to an hour before he's used to someone's presence. He is smart, but won't volunteer an answer to someone he doesn't really know he knows even if he full-well knows the answer.
But despite all of that, he displays more extroverted characteristics. In familiar company he talks non-stop. Non-Stop. He will follow you from one room to another just to be able to keep telling his story or see what you're doing. He has very little regard for personal space or privacy, from trying to sit on my lap while I'm on the toilet or hanging over the edge of the bath tub while I'm in there, talking the whole time. He has to be busy constantly. When people visit us here he usually has no problem telling them all about the garden, or the playground, or the stream, or his tractor...
And I've tried to let him have alone time to get him used to playing by himself, but usually after a few minutes I come back past the room and he's in a pout in the middle of the floor or he's thrown everything everywhere and says he doesn't want to do anything anymore.

He treads a fine line between needing human interaction and to be busy, to needing an hour long tv break and some alone time. He's this half and half mix that makes it really difficult to read him or predict what will happen.

It's hard being an opposite personality type to your kids. As an introvert, I tend to get frustrated when Toby wont just let me think in silence for a few minutes, or feels the need to treat me as a jungle gym especially when I'm doing yoga. And in turn I'm sure he doesn't understand why he needs to sleep in his own bed and not follow me into the bathroom and not talk when we're listening to other people tell a story.

I leave you with three links with a good summary of these personality types. They've made their way around a few times, but I always love seeing them.

Cartoon on Understanding Introverts

How to Care for Your Introvert

How to Care for Your Extrovert

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