Dear Introvert,

You’ve been complaining about Extraverts a lot. And quite often, you get it wrong.

To clarify, according to Myers-Briggs Type Theory, there are 2 ways of getting and using energy: Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I). People who prefer Extraversion focus on the external world to get energy through interacting with people and/or doing things. People who prefer Introversion focus on the inner world to get energy through reflecting on information, ideas, experiences, and/or concepts.

We ALL use both Extraversion and Introversion daily.

But there’s one that comes much more naturally and easily for us.

Carl Jung, who originally coined the terms Extraversion and Introversion, regarded them as “mutually complementary” attitudes necessary for psychological adaptation. We all must “Extravert” in order to interact with people and the physical world. By virtue of their interaction with the external world, people who prefer Extraversion tend to be aware of and in tune with a broad scope of external information. In contrast, Introversion, by definition, cannot be shared directly; rather, it is fueled by contemplation.

There’s no better or worse

Let’s make it clear: both Introverts and Extraverts have strengths and weaknesses. There’s no better or worse. Unfortunately, Dear Introvert, you seem to enjoy perpetuating stereotypes about us (even more than we do about you). You’ve unwittingly pegged us wrong in the following ways:

  1. We’re flirting with you. Dear Introvert, we’re trying to connect with you because we think you’re interesting (or hot, as the case may be). We know you aren’t a mind- reader, so we articulate our thoughts (and appreciate when you do too). Our enthusiasm may get the better of us, but please don’t misinterpret our friendliness for flirtation (unless we wink, lick our lips, or casually grab your butt). We just don’t want you to feel self-conscious, so we’ll fill those awkward silences with random movie quotes, stories from our childhood, or Jeopardy trivia. Now, if we start singing or rapping, we’re definitely flirting.
  2. We’re nosy, rude, shallow, or fake (or needy…yikes!). Dear Introvert, we promise we’re not deliberately trying to irritate you. While all annoying blabbermouths might be Extraverts, not all Extraverts are annoying blabbermouths. Just because we’re friendly, fun, and adventurous doesn’t mean we’re not equally capable of deep thoughts and intelligent conversation. Duh!
  3. We can’t be alone. Dear Introvert, we know that too much external stimuli drains you. And too much alone-time drains us. Surprise! Our brains are wired differently, so we need more stimulation to be content. And like you, we need time to recharge our batteries. We’re only human after all.
  4. We’re all alike. Now, Dear Introvert, like other Americans of Irish descent, I enjoy a room-temperature Guinness, have found more 4-leaf clovers than the average redhead, and do the Riverdance on my way home from work. But this absolutely doesn’t mean I’m the same as other Extraverts, God forbid!
  5. We’re “better.” Ah, Dear Introvert…not so fast! There are all sorts of myths out there about Extraverts being better leaders, better at interviewing, and better in all social situations. Not true! Introverts and Extraverts are equally successful (or not) for reasons that have nothing to do with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

We poke at people who are most different because we understand them less. Instead of continuing to peg us wrong, revel in our ability to cheer you up, effortlessly breeze through any kind of conversation, and get you to make friends with the people hosting the party (instead of their pets). If you get tired of us, just wait for the right time to tell us. Then let us interrupt you so we can go on being our charming, charismatic selves.