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The life of the party or the homebody: Which one are you?

The life of the party or the homebody: Which one are you?
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Party like it’s 1999 or homeward bound?

When invited to a party, are you like me, excited at the prospect of meeting new people, or more like my friend Carol, who immediately starts to plan her exit before she even arrives? I realized that the older I get, the more I can relate to Carol and her planned exits. Too much socializing is starting to deplete me lately, which in turn got me thinking about introverts, extroverts and the differences between them.

Do you know which category you fall into?

In 1921, Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, coined the terms introvert and extrovert to explain the differences in how people direct their energies. By definition, an introvert from the Latin intro ‘inward’ and vertere ‘turning’ is someone who is more introspective, needs more alone time and who often finds social gatherings to be draining. Their brains run on an energy-conserving nervous system.

On the contrary, extroverts from the Latin extro ‘outward’ and vertere ‘turning’ have brains that run on an energy-spending nervous system. They derive their energy from people and stimulation, and seem to get energized by spending time with people.

Some people find they are actually a combination of both these personality types. Coined in 1927 by sociologist Kimball Young, an ‘ambivert’ from the Latin ambi ‘both’ and vertere ‘turning’ is a person who has the traits of both an introvert and an extrovert.

Our lesson in Latin has now officially come to a close.

(Before we move on however, can you distinguish between the introverts and extroverts in this list: Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Mother Teresa, Joe DiMaggio, Mark Zuckerberg, Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. The *answers will appear at the end of this article).

Attics of my life

In the 1970s, during my turbulent pre-teen and teen years, I remember retreating often to my bedroom in the attic, where I would listen to my albums and make collages. I craved that solitude, especially after coming home from all the shenanigans I experienced in junior high. My brain felt like it was firing on all cylinders and I needed to relax. By the time I got to high school, I stopped making collages but still looked forward to my alone time. I enjoyed socializing with my friends, but only up to a point.

I seem to have maintained those same habits into adulthood as a self-proclaimed ambivert.

As my friends and family know, I love having a busy social calendar, but admit that I thoroughly enjoy being reclusive at times (but not to the point of being mistaken for the female version of Howard Hughes).

Alone again, naturally

When speaking recently to some of my single female contemporaries on the topic (many of whom I consider to be social butterflies), I found out that they too love their alone time. I’ve also spoken to some single men who were all very extroverted, yet they expressed to me that they couldn’t be alone or preferred not to be. This sentiment seemed more common with men over a certain age (60+), yet women in the same age group (who were both introverts and extroverts) never really expressed those same sentiments as men did.

I personally feel women have a much easier time being alone, taking comfort in knowing that their inner circle of friends is only a phone call away when they might need to recharge their social batteries. They seem to maintain close friendships throughout their lives with an ongoing intimacy with friends, something not as common with men. As a result, when it’s time for women to retreat from social settings, it doesn’t seem as problematic.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, do you mind being alone?

Who are you? Who who are you?

Reflecting back on your childhood, teenage years and now adulthood, do you find that you have become more introverted or more extroverted? Perhaps you’re an ambivert like I am. Do you prefer having your social calendar filled or do you breathe a sigh of relief to see some blanks on the calendar? If you’re not sure, it might be fun to take this test:

And speaking of tests, how well did you score on this one?


Introverts: Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Mother Teresa, Joe DiMaggio

Extroverts: Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher


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