Extrovert vs Introvert

Can You Be Both?

On one flip of the coin, these are often viewed as opposites. But there is no reason you cannot be both!

  • To be extrovert often means you have to be around people. In one view you will want them to grow and like you and want to support you. Think P-O-L-I-T-I-C-I-A-N, or any other position that requires a regular vote. Think C-H-E-E-R-L-E-A-D-E-R.
  • To live like an introvert often means you would just as soon no be around other people, and the M-A-L-L is the last place on earth that you choose to visit.

Still, I think an Introvert can be popular, just as an Extrovert can be socially unacceptable, hence, unpopular.

Where did Introvert come from?

A term introduced by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe a person whose motives and actions are directed inward. Introverts tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people.

One definition says an introvert is shy, or reticent. I do not like this definition! Rather, the Urban Dictionary says:

Opposite of extrovert. A person who is energized by spending time alone. Often found in their homes, libraries, quiet parks that not many people know about, or other secluded places, introverts like to think and be alone.

Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards. The word “Introvert” has negative connotations that need to be destroyed. Introverts are simply misunderstood because the majority of the population consists of extroverts.

Without understanding it early on in life, I feel that I have been an introvert since my early teen years. I enjoy being by myself, and draw strength to face the remainder of life by being alone. I work well by myself, enjoy going to lunch without a bunch of others sitting at the same table, and when I read I do not like distractions of people. A long drive by myself without the radio defines my introversion to a “T”…

Does this mean I am not popular? I think not. My grand baby loves me, and the older she gets the more she wants to be around me! My wife loves me, and to her I am her bestest friend and we can spend time together without a crowd and be totally happy and content. My kids, family and close friends enjoy me.

Burro and Owner
Burro and Owner

One good friend can sense when I need to withdraw and has even commented on it in the past – we were on tour in Israel and Jordan, the clamor of the crowd was getting to me, so I slipped away and found a shaded place to watch people (including this picture from Petra), a great pastime for introverts. As the tour group passed me by, the Jordanian tour guide said, “So, there he is” and pointed me out to the rest of the group.

Chatting with my cousin the other day, I realize that he and I are both introverts. Yet, I spend time with my congregation and social media so as to pastor and teach – and to be successful in this role I must be extroverted. He shared, “You cannot pastor without being an extrovert!” I wholeheartedly agree! Still, I look ahead to the time when retirement allows me to withdraw more and live life a little bit more sedately than I do right now!

When I think about this I realize that Jesus must have been an introvert. We often find him alone, withdrawn from his personal followers and the crowds.

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, (Matthew 14:23 ESV)

When he was in his hardest personal trial, he was alone. In the wilderness at the start of his ministry, and in the Garden of Gethsemane at the ending of his earthly ministry.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”  (Matthew 26:36 ESV)

Even when Peter, James and John were alone with him, withdrawn from the others, they fell asleep and left him even all the more alone. Though he prayed even harder, there was not much for them to do with him except to join him prayer…

Here’s what I think about introverts and extroverts… Since I care little about popularity, I must be able to withdraw and build my strength so that I can step into life and be an extrovert. There are many times I need to be alone, and times I must be in a crowd.

Can you live your life alone, withdrawn at times from a crowd? Or, perhaps you are an extrovert and need to always be surrounded by people… We can both be popular!