Introvert or extrovert?
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? The popular notion of an introvert is that of a shy person, one who keeps to one’s self, a person who shuns the limelight and so on.
An extrovert, it is thought, is that Type A personality who is gregarious, always the center of attention, one who mixes easily with others, the obvious leader, and is the life of the party.
In fact, these characteristics have very little to do with whether one is an introvert or an extrovert. It’s all about how you recharge your batteries. Not the flashlight kind of batteries, of course, but your own, internal energy sources.
I am an introvert. Now, one might not believe that if one looked at my activities or my resume. I speak regularly and comfortably in front of people — sometimes large groups of strangers. I am a leader in my church and in my denomination, I nearly always get tapped to be an officer in organizations, and enjoy being with people. Yet I am an introvert.
People drain the energy from me. I like people. I enjoy people. Yet, at the end of a meeting or after being with people all day I am tired — sometimes exhausted. I recharge by being alone.
An introvert must have times of solitude, “down time,” if you will. An introvert might curl up and read a book, go for a solitary walk, take a drive in the car, or sip coffee on the front porch. I ride my motorcycle.
It used to be, after the children grew up and left, I would go downstairs in the winter and build a fire and read while sitting in a rocking chair. In the summers, I would watch the squirrels fight over peanuts or sit on the deck with a glass of tea.
At the moment, however, I have a house full of people on most days. I love them all and they enrich my life. But, to recharge, I go for a ride. I love the wind in my face, the rumble of the Harley, the peacefulness of a solitary ride. Most times, it doesn’t take a lot to recharge but, if I don’t have some alone time, I get cranky and irritable.
My friend, John Holloway, is a total extrovert. For 10 years he was my bishop before a stroke confined him to a bed. He recharged by being with people. The more people, the better. Bishop John spent a lot of time alone — especially in prayer and study — but being alone drained him. To recharge, he would go to be with people or he would seek out people to be with him.
It was not uncommon at all for him to call me or someone else and say, “I have to drive to Brunswick, do you want to go with me?” or “I’m going to a meeting in Kentucky, why don’t you come along?” He even asked — insisted, really — that I accompany him to Kenya and Uganda for three weeks in 1998.
He was never more full of energy than when he was with people. It is still that way. When people visit him in his home, he brightens up and comes alive. That’s one of the reasons we now make sure that someone visits him each week and takes him Holy Communion.
So, how one conducts his or her life is not a final indicator as to whether one is an introvert or an extrovert. It’s how one replaces lost energy — how one recharges. If we are constantly drained, tired, weary, cranky, or irritable, it might not be the diet, or lack of exercise, or an illness. It just might be that we need to change how we recharge.
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org). He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]