Shy is not introverted, outgoing is not extroverted

The definitions of introversion and extroversion don’t have anything to do with how many words we say. They have to do with how we get our energy.

  • Introverted means a person is energized through solitude.
  • Extroverted means a person is energized through socializing.

Introverts, because they’re energized by solitude, are often shy as a result. They’re shy because the more solitude they have, the more energy they gain.

On the other hand, extroverts, because they’re energized by socializing, are often outgoing as a result. They’re outgoing because the more they socialize, the more energy they gain.

All that to say, shyness and outgoingness aren’t what make people introverted or extroverted, but they’re often linked that way because of the incentives to become shy or outgoing.

Recognizing that shyness and outgoingness are common results but not necessarily linked to introversion or extroversion shakes things up. It makes finding out which you are messier.

For example, I’d say in general I’m more on the outgoing side than the shy side. But how am I energized? Often, I feel like my energy comes not from interacting with people but reflecting on those interactions. So am I introverted or extroverted?

See why it’s messier? It’s messier because distinguishing between causes and results forces us to examine our motivations instead of how many words we say.

So what about you? Based on motivation, not word count, are you an introvert or an extrovert? How are you energized?

Note: Immediately after writing this, I realized I was wrong. I don’t think I got the definitions completely right. I posted it anyway because I still think it’s something to think about. You can read my revised version here.

For the fun of it, in addition to sharing whether you’re introverted or extroverted, I’d love to hear your thoughts on those definitions. Do you think they’re accurate? Can you guess how I modified them?

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