Are you an introvert or extrovert? The answer might surprise you. Let’s delve into the basics.

I’ve always assumed that being an “introvert” or “extrovert” meant you were shy or outgoing. The apex predator vs. the intelligent silent assassin. Center stage vs. screenwriter. Et cetera. I was wrong. I was also under the impression individuals were deemed “introvert” or “extrovert.” I was wrong about that, too. In truth, introversion and extroversion has nothing to do with being the life of the party or the bookworm, but actually relates to where/how you source your energy. Also, no one is 100% either way — everyone has characteristics of both sides, but as personalities go, we either fall mostly in the middle or slightly to one arch.

“There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.” —  according to the theories of the 20th-century Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.

I don’t want to get too much into the science, but there are a few theories about what causes the divide between introverts/extroverts and most of them come down to the way we provoke our brains.

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We’ve all been in that situation where one person is saying, “Let’s go out!” and one person is saying, “No… I’m going to stay in.” It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but as we all know, sometimes this situation can get a bit tense — especially between best friends or couples. The person who wants to go out, really really wants to go out, and the other person might not get what the big deal is — person A goes out all the time, and person B can’t keep up. Person B needs a netflix-binge-break.

Now, this doesn’t have to be a big “we don’t get along, let’s part ways” situation if you approach such an incident with a mindset that welcomes the differences between introversion vs. extroversion.

Can’t we all just get along? Yes, but we can’t all recharge our brains the same way. Introverts replenish with alone time, so being in large groups of people for extended periods of time drains them instead of exciting them. Extroverts, on the other hand, prefer to source energy from the hype surrounding social environments. In the ’60s, psychologist Hans Eysenck aimed to define extroverts by having a lower level of arousal. Arousal, in the physiological sense, is the extent to which our bodies and minds are alert and ready to respond to stimulation. Eysenck’s theory indicates that since extroverts have a lower arousal rate, they need to work a bit harder to get themselves up to the level others find normal and pleasant without doing anything. If extroverts spend too much time alone, they might actually feel their energy levels depleted, instead of invigorated.

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According to expert Dr. Laurie Helgoe, introverts aren’t anti-social, they’re just happy in a different way… More stimulated by ideas and inner reflection. It has nothing to do with being outgoing.

Most comedians are introverts. Johny Carson was one of them.

Of course, everything is situational. “We all exist somewhere on the spectrum between extroverts and introverts, and different circumstances can make us feel more one way or the other,” notes Tom Safford of BBC. “Our preferences are shaped by the way our brains respond to the world.”

I’ve always assumed I was an introvert. Then I took a personality quiz, and as it turns out, I’m actually more of an extrovert who has been hiding in an introvert’s schema for way too long. The point is, now I know and can envelop that side of my character rather than ignore it. Everyone will come across plenty of personality types that fall all over the in vs. ex charts — humans are a wide variety of confusing. Final thought: let’s approach these conditions with the proper levels of human empathy and learn to be less perturbed by those who may act or decide differently than us. I found these two charts from Belle Beth Cooper that nicely sums up how to deal with both types.

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More people manual pieces, here.  x featured image via eshillier.tumblr.com.

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