Introvert or Extrovert? Accepting and Thriving in Your True Nature
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
We’ll admit: Personality tests are fun. They can help us gain insight into ourselves and put into words what we’ve once struggled to describe. But knowing more about who we are isn’t always the same as accepting who we are, let alone thriving in our true nature.
All of us—whether we're introverted or extroverted—have unique qualities. But it can be hard to accept the parts of ourselves that don’t fit into society’s definition of success. By learning to understand and embrace our individual strengths, though, we can all achieve happiness and greatness, regardless of personality type.
So keep reading to learn more about introversion and extroversion, as well as common misconceptions about both. And then discover tips to help you accept and thrive in your true nature.
Defining Introvert and Extrovert
When it comes to personality types, introvert and extrovert are two of the most commonly discussed terms. You're likely already familiar with them in a general sense, but as a refresher:
- Introverts are individuals who seek less stimulation and derive energy from spending time alone, often engaging in activities such as reading, writing, or reflecting. They may require time to recharge after social interactions and tend to have a small, intimate circle of friends. They also like to think before speaking, favor independence, and value deep experiences.
- Extroverts are people who thrive in social situations, seek greater stimulation, and gain energy from being around others, often participating in group activities, networking events, and engaging conversations. They typically have a large social circle and can easily adapt to new environments and people. They also like to think out loud, favor teamwork, and value broad experiences.
Although it is possible to identify as an introvert or extrovert, many people do not fit exclusively into either category. For many people, their personality type is a combination of both introversion and extroversion. So rather than seeing introversion and extroversion as binary opposites, try to recognize them as two ends of a spectrum, with people falling in various places along it.
Personality Tests: Discovering Your Introvert vs. Extrovert Characteristics
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of the most popular personality tests used to determine introversion or extroversion. Based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological types, it assesses individuals based on four dichotomies, including the Introversion-Extroversion scale. By answering a series of questions, test-takers receive a four-letter personality type that provides insight into their preferences and natural tendencies.
While the MBTI can be a helpful tool in understanding your nature, it's essential to remember that no test can fully capture the complexity of personalities. So if you choose to take this assessment or others like it, use the results only as a starting point for self-reflection and exploration rather than definitive labels. And keep in mind that your unique traits may not always fit neatly into categories like "introvert" or "extrovert."
Common Misconceptions about Introverts and Extroverts
Society often perpetuates misconceptions about introverts and extroverts, leading to stereotypes that can be limiting and even harmful. Some of the most common include the following:
- Introverts are shy, while extroverts are outgoing. While it's true that introverts may prefer solitude or smaller social gatherings, this doesn't necessarily mean they're shy. In small-group settings, they might be extremely outgoing. Similarly, extroverts can be sociable but also experience discomfort in certain situations, as well as enjoy moments of quiet reflection.
- Introverts don't like people. This common stereotype is far from accurate. Introverts value deep connections and meaningful conversations. They might simply just need more time alone to recharge after socializing.
- Extroverts always want to be the center of attention. While some extroverted individuals may thrive in the spotlight, others find fulfillment by engaging in the background of group activities or simply supporting others.
- Introversion or extroversion is fixed throughout life. Personalities are not static. They evolve as we grow and experience new situations. So it's possible for someone who was once predominantly introverted or extroverted to become more balanced over time.
By addressing misconceptions and challenging assumptions about introversion and extroversion, we can foster greater empathy and understanding towards ourselves and others, embracing our unique traits rather than being confined by labels or societal expectations.
How to Understand and Accept Your Introversion or Extroversion
Understanding and accepting your introversion or extroversion is the first step to thriving in your true nature. Think about how good it would feel to give yourself permission to be your true self rather than feeling pressured to be someone you’re not.
Here are some tips for learning to understand and accept your introversion or extroversion:
- Identify patterns: See if you can recognize recurring patterns in your behavior, emotions, and preferences in various situations, and with each discovery, remind yourself that your reaction is normal and OK.
- Seek feedback from others: Ask trusted friends or family members for their observations about your personality traits and behaviors. This input can offer valuable insights that may not be apparent through self-reflection alone. And again, try to approach each insight with curiosity and acceptance.
- Embrace your strengths: When was the last time you acknowledged what you admire about yourself—the current version of yourself, not who you hope to become? Remind yourself of your strengths frequently because taking the time to stop and appreciate yourself is the key to cultivating self-love and acceptance.
- Connect with like-minded individuals: Find people who share similar personality traits and can empathize with your experiences to create a supportive environment where you feel understood and accepted.
- Celebrate diversity: Recognize the value of having diverse personalities in your life, appreciating how each person's unique traits—including your own—contribute positively to various aspects of life.
Once you’ve come to understand and accept your personality type, you can start taking steps toward living a life that is more fulfilling and meaningful.
How to Thrive as an Introvert or Extrovert
No matter if you're an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, finding the right balance between socialization and solitude is essential for overall well-being. Here are some tips to help you better strike that balance:
- Establish boundaries: Communicate your needs to others, whether it's asking for alone time or seeking social engagement. Establishing healthy boundaries can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin.
- Schedule time for yourself: Prioritize activities that recharge and energize you, as well as bring you joy and relaxation. Make sure to regularly carve out time for these activities to maintain balance and well-being.
- Cultivate meaningful relationships: Build strong connections with people who understand your needs to help you maintain a healthy balance between socialization and solitude. Surround yourself with individuals who respect your boundaries and support your personal growth.
- Engage in activities that suit your nature: Choose hobbies and interests that align with your natural preferences. Introverts might enjoy reading clubs, yoga classes, or art workshops, while extroverts may prefer team sports or group outings.
- Challenge yourself: Intentionally step out of your comfort zone by trying new activities that may not typically align with your personality type. This can help you grow as a person while also gaining a deeper understanding of yourself.
- Practice mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into daily life to help manage your stress levels, improve your emotional regulation, and increase your self-awareness—all essential skills for maintaining a balanced lifestyle regardless of personality type.
By implementing these tips, you can establish a lifestyle that helps you thrive as an introvert or extrovert—or something in between.
And if you're curious to learn more about how introversion and extroversion can be supported at work and in relationships, check out this Well Balanced podcast episode.
Learn to Love Exactly Who You Are
When you can understand and accept your true nature as an introvert or extrovert—or something in between—you can clarify your values and make more informed decisions about how to nurture your well-being.
If you want to start embracing your identity and creating a life that better honors your unique strengths and preferences, download the Balance app today on iOS or Android for support. It's full of expert-led guidance that can help you increase your self-awareness and self-confidence, as well as teach you to love exactly who you are. The best part? It's totally free for your entire first year. So what are you waiting for?