Most people are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, which aims to reveal, among other factors, whether you are introverted or extroverted. Famous Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung first popularized the concept of a spectrum of introversion and extroversion. Jung believed that everyone was some mixture of these two types, but likely would always lean toward one extreme or another. He believed the defining factor for determining which type we identify with was based on from where we direct and draw our energy.
If you are an introvert, it is likely you are more reserved, withdrawn, shy, or quiet. You enjoy your solitude. You can engage in social activities, but they drain your energy. You feel much more rejuvenated sitting alone with a good book. You may be less susceptible to the newly termed condition “FOMO” — the Fear Of Missing Out. Some might say you actually prefer to “miss out” at times, if it means you can carve out some alone time for introspective thinking.
If you are an extrovert, you are a people person. You thrive on dynamic, social situations. If all your friends are busy and you are forced to sit alone at home, you might find this extremely tiring (and boring). You like spontaneous stimulation. You enjoy attention and being involved with whatever is going on. You strike up small talk with strangers. Maybe, you’ve never met a stranger.
So, which type has more fun? These two personality types are very different from one another. So, I guess it depends on what your version of “fun” really is.
I can speak first hand from my experience with being an introvert. Introverts have a rich interior life. They are usually very reflective and may carry on exhaustive internal dialogue as they process things throughout the day. They are observant. They have no problem planning things out in their mind because their mind is where they spend most of their time. They are able to entertain themselves with imaginative and creative thought. They are usually able to ascertain more subtle attributes of others, because they are so deliberate about their time spent with other people. This can lead to great insight about people or circumstances that might otherwise be glossed over by the more extroverted personality.
On the other hand, being an extrovert certainly has its perks. Extroverts have a rich exterior life. They thrive on social engagement, which, let’s be real, is unavoidable even for the most high level introvert. Extroverts love interaction with others and usually develop a quick wit and agile social skills to exercise over many different circumstances and contexts. They become adept at recovering from unplanned setbacks. Because they are fully engaged in being socially present, they easily learn to “read a room” and can take charge of a conversation or lead an event without breaking a sweat. It may be more of a challenge for extroverts to connect with themselves, one on one, but they genuinely look forward to opportunities where they can connect with others.
Introverts and Extroverts sometimes misunderstand one another. That is because their processing simply operates from two different angles. But it doesn’t mean they cannot get along. In fact, they can learn a lot from one another. I certainly have learned how to be more comfortable with being outgoing from my extroverted friends, and I have had more than one extrovert comment on some special observation I’ve made, due to my introverted nature.
It is important to understand that these two personality types are not directly correlated with any certain mental health conditions or disorders. An extrovert could be painfully shy due to anxiety or an introvert might be really great at public speaking, despite their preference for being alone. Within each personality type, there still exists a spectrum of wellness and balance as it relates to the overall person. Understanding your preferences and where you naturally draw your energy from could be helpful in addressing issues that otherwise interfere with what you know to be true about yourself.