Introversion vs. Extroversion, or Recharging Means Nothing

Introvert Extrovert “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I've got a bone to pick here. So, as many of you know, we are becoming more and more aware of introvert culture. Do you know introvert culture? You probably don't even use the phrase because it's not a culture. It's a way of life. Here is what you might know as introvert culture:

1) Introverts recharge by being alone.

2) Introverts are shy.

3) Introverts don't like putting in the effort of putting on pants and going out.

First of all, who likes wearing pants? Who? Nobody likes wearing pants! Least important point.

The important point: This whole "how you re-charge" excuse is bullshit. Because now almost everyone is claiming that they're an introvert because they "recharge by being alone." So tell me, what is the difference between decompressing and recharging? If you're trying to answer, I can't hear you, and it doesn't matter because you don’t know how to do your research!

You see, introversion and extroversion are more about where that energy comes from more so than how you recharge yourself for more activity.

Think of an introvert like your iPhone, or whatever smartphone brand you carry in your pocket. First of all, it won't talk to you unless you talk to it. General rule of introverts: We typically don't speak unless spoken to. Second of all, it has a built-in battery. All of its energy comes from within. So the more it is out and about, it's energy gets lower... and lower... and lower until it red bars on you. So what happens next? You charge your phone. And if you think about it, your power sources for your charger are in places that are typically used for "alone time"—your apartment or your car or in the corner of the training center. (Yeah, yeah, I'm oversimplifying. That’s what analogies are supposed to be so SHUT UP!)

So if an introvert is like an iPhone, an extrovert is similar to a solar panel. Solar panels get energy from the sun, which is an outside source, and then when the sun goes down, there is minimal if any output. Extroverts get their energy from other people and/or events. I'm not going to say that they are "energy vampires," but I do carry around some holy water in my water bottle just in case. (My husband is ordained by the Church of Universal Life, so it TOTES COUNTS.) An extrovert is more likely to be in his or her element at a party whereas introverts might undergo some stress trying to make their energies last. It's also why people think of performance spaces as an unlikely place to find an introvert—people often affiliate extroverts with entertaining crowds and being fearless.

Back to another point I made earlier: Let's talk about introversion being synonymous with “shy” and “anxious” and extroversion being thought of as “outgoing” and “laid-back.” Surprise! You can be an outgoing introvert! You can also be a shy extrovert! Where you get your energy does not have much to do with how you approach a person or a crowd for the first time. You ask, "Isn't it usually a clue that shyness equals introversion?" If we're going on the majority, which is where stereotypes come from, yes. I have been very open on my posts about how I am a socially anxious, shy introvert. I know I'm what you think of when you think "introversion." However, if you ever meet my dad, you will find he is very outgoing and will charm the pants off of you, but he is also soft-spoken and will pull an Irish Goodbye at parties or family gatherings.

There's a long list of people who are considered to be introverted: Steve Martin, the late Robin Williams, J. K. Rowling, Eleanor Roosevelt, Felicia Day, Albert Einstein, and more. Do they seem that way? No. Because there's another side to the introversion coin: They get energy from within, and that typically involves their interests. I've said time and time again that I need to make a shirt that says, "I want to talk to you, but I'm a stereotype for social awkwardness! Here is a list of topics," followed by a long list including Disney movies, Doctor Who, musicals, and pictures of the pet dog you hopefully have on your phone.

Sorry to bust your "recharge" bubble, guys. I know it made you think, "Oh man, I understand this trend, too! I'm an introvert, too!" But you may be an extrovert wearing an introversion badge because it's so hip right now. There's nothing wrong with being extroverted, you guys. In fact, extroverts are a little ahead of the game—the current school system and business social structure were based on you people! This new introversion revolution is a point of trying to help the general populace identify and interact with introverts on their level. It's to even out the playing field. There will always be the awkward Christmas office party, so my hope is that this rant will help you party-people and party-poopers understand each other more.

I'm not at all an expert on this—I just live this semi-charmed kind of life—which is why I always recommend the book Quiet by Susan Cain as a starter for learning more. And if you are often surrounded by the tiny humans known as "children," there's also Quiet Power by the same author. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stare at the clock at work until I can go home for "no pants" time.

KC Ryan is an improv graduate turned Sketch Writing Level 2 student. When she’s not working at the day job, she is a writer and podcaster for everything that combines feminism, comedy, theatre, and nerdery. She also performs in the puppet improv troupe Empty Inside.

(Image: Riskology)