During a conversation a while back, a family member of mine said something to me that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since:
“Sure, you may be introverted, Alex, but you’re a closet extrovert. Look at how you act when you’re onstage, or at one of your anime conventions!”
This statement baffled me. I’ve always considered myself a complete and total introvert; if you were to give me a codified personality test like the Meyers-Briggs, I would score as introverted every time. I love alone time and need a lot of it. I’m rarely excited to be around large numbers of people aside from during special events, and on the rare occasion I am around a lot of people for a long time, I have to withdraw immediately to “recharge my batteries”. How on earth was I capable of being extroverted in any way?
Not only was I not sure how I could even be considered extroverted, but didn’t want to be. Once upon a time (and by that I mean only a few years ago), I gloated in my status as a personality type that I mistakenly saw as being a minority, and saw myself in an elitist “I’m a super special delicate and sensitive snowflake and better than you” light. While I’ve since left that mentality behind, and I’m definitely happier for it, I’m still comfortable with my introversion and see it as a simple reality of what I’m like as a person. For someone to suddenly define me as something I’ve never considered myself before was disconcerting, to say the least.
However, looking back, there is definitely some truth to the “closet extrovert” theory. Since coming to LMU, meeting lots of different people and discovering interesting things about myself and others, I’ve come to consider myself as more complex than just part of a single personality category. Most human beings, after all, contain infinite nuances within their usual patterns of behavior. Looking back on my patterns helps me notice my nuances and moments where I could be considered extroverted – and even situations and people that have caused me to become more extroverted.
Getting more involved in the LMU drama program has definitely brought out a small extroverted section of my personality. During the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream last semester, especially during performances, it felt as if the part of me that desired quiet had been shut down. I didn’t merely power through a performance and run away to be alone afterward, I reveled in performing and being in the scope of people’s attention. It didn’t slowly drain me like other prolonged interactions seem to, it energized me. Even after the last of four performances, I was still buzzing with energy. This semester I’m taking two drama classes, learning about acting basics and stage combat, and I still maintain a bit of that extroversion. Though I’ve been told that I have a tendency to close myself off during class (probably due more to insecurity and nervousness than anything else) once I get myself back into the “acting” head space, I’m able to open up more and fully feel the energy of what I’m doing.
In a similar vein, going to comic conventions and cosplaying is a different environment that brings out the extroverted Alex. Having ETSUCon and Yama-Con in cities so close to LMU makes it easier for me to attend these events fairly regularly, and wow, are they ever-exciting! During most of these events, I’m around people for three days straight and never get tired of it, nor do I particularly feel the need to withdraw after they’re over. The atmosphere, similar to being onstage, seems to reverse my usual energy stream; I’m energized by the people I’m around rather than drained.
For this to happen, however I first have to be extremely mentally invested in what I’m doing. My introversion is more likely to recede a bit if I’m playing video games with a group of friends rather than attending a party with lots of people I don’t know well, or if I’m going to a concert of a band I really love rather than a basketball game. I’m still an introvert, and that part of me doesn’t have an off switch that I can flip at will; and since I’m living on a campus where a good majority of my friends are extroverts, sometimes I wish that it did have an off switch. There have been situations during my time at LMU that I’ve had to decline spending time with even my closest friends simply because I hadn’t had enough time to recharge after a long day of classes or simply another social interaction. However, by knowing so many extroverted people, I feel that I’ve become more appreciative of them and their nuances as well as have become more aware of my own variations in personality.
As much as I enjoy categorizing myself into this or that personality type, learning that nobody can be shoved perfectly into one neat box or another has given me a fresh perspective. If our behavior was perfectly definable all the time, what a monotonous existence this would be indeed!
What about you, readers? Do you consider yourself introverted, extroverted, a little of both? Does it vary depending on the situation? How does it effect how you interact with your social group? I can’t wait to hear your stories!