I'm an Introvert. An off-the-charts, 100% every time I take the test, Introvert. Learning to honor that part of me, including taking care of it according to how it can best be served, has been an amazingly beneficial process for me.
By 'the test', I'm referring to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI defines four groups of two traits, and by taking a yes/no questionnaire (free online version here), one can determine which of each trait is a more accurate description of their tendencies.
- Extraversion (E) vs Introversion (I)
- Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N)
- Thinking (T) vs Feeling (F)
- Judgment (J) vs Perception (P)
Every time I've taken this test, I've ended up INTP - 'The Thinker' or my favorite: 'The Absent-Minded Professor'. I posted something a while back expressing frustration with the labeling. But over the years, I've come to value tools that allow me to look at myself honestly. And while I'm still testing at INTP, I am thankful that my T/F is now around 55%-60% T rather than the 100% it's been in the past.
Anywhatzit, this post is about the freedom I've found by honoring my Introvertedness. Being an Introvert is not the same as being shy, anti-social, lonely, or awkward. The most resonant concepts for me around the Introvert/Extrovert division is in where a person is recharged, and where a person is drained of their energy.
Extroverts feel recharged by spending time socially with others, while the Introvert feels drained of energy being with others. Give an introvert quiet time alone, to reflect and recharge, and they will be content, while an Extrovert will tend to grow increasingly uncomfortable and need to get out and do something.
Removing the judgments against myself that it was somehow 'not normal' to want to spend evenings alone, and was 'normal' to celebrate a particularly difficult week out on the town with friends.
I now cherish my 'Me' days on the calendar. They are sacred red-letter days for me, and when life restructures my time where I am unable to spend at least 1, usually 2 evenings a week on my own, with my chair and a book, I can now prepare myself for the increased irritability, frustration, and loss of focus that will come along with me to the next event. This awareness helps me temper myself, and give myself and others more slack and opens me to more forgiveness.
So if you have ever felt exhausted after a wonderful party, or petrified at having to entertain house guests, or embarrassed for spending a Friday night alone and totally enjoying it, you might lean toward the Introverted side of things.
Here's some articles which I find encouraging as an introvert:
- Revenge of the Introvert - from Psychology Today
- Being an Introvert in an Extroverted World
- The Shy Connector - Slideshow about the Introvert
- An Introvert Stands Up for the Right to Be Alone - article in the Washington Post
Today I don't have the negative opinions I used to of the 'label' of INTP. It is not some galactic curse, imprinted into my psyche, dooming me to live a life within someone else's set of rules. On the contrary, I see it as a tool which provides me with insight into my 'easy operating' areas and 'room for growth' or 'learning zone' areas.
It has been empowering and exciting to me to work on some of the more negative tendencies I read about 'The INTP', especially around the T/F split. Awareness seems to be the first step, and I'm definitely more aware of when I'm in a comfort zone, and when I'm being challenged to grow.
Thanks for your time, and feel free to share your own 'four letter words' in a comment.
Tim "tending towards change" James
UPDATE: For each of the 16 types, here are Personal Growth and Improvement Suggestions for that type. The suggestions for the INTP gave me a lot of insight.