Some swelling, some shrinking

As I’ve explained in the past, introverts gain energy in solitude. Extraverts (those charming bastards) gain energy around other people.

I didn’t explain it well enough, though. Here’s the complication: this energy balance dynamic exists independently across multiple facets of personality.

The question isn’t “am I an introvert or extravert?” It’s “what parts of me are introverted or extraverted?”

Let’s test this filter:

My ideation is extraverted. I come up with my best ideas in dialogue with other people and strategize collaboratively. I’ve started taking notes during my hangouts; they’ve seeded many of the ideas I’ve written about here.

However, my execution is introverted. Which means actually implementing the idea, writing the story, doing the work: I tend to do those best in isolation. Making things with a partner drains me faster than long periods of making in isolation.

My willpower is introverted. My ability to delay gratification, pass up delicious foods, optimize for the long term rather than act in the moment is sapped the longer i’m around people.

But my dance energy is extraverted. Alone I tend to recline on the nearest couch, but around people my feet shuffle. Suddenly, I am stepping to a beat, whether in my head or on the speakers. The more people, the greater my capacity to dance all night. On a several occasions, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

My attention is introverted. I can focus on a single task for longer in isolation. In public, I can shut the blinders for 30 minutes before I require a break, a walk, a snack.

My music-orientation is extraverted. That is to say, around other people my drive to make and curate music swells. I fiddle with the radio, or tap/shake/strum any instruments in proximity, or absorb myself in building a playlist for the room. At home, those things take effort. Outside, I’m charmed to it like a cobra.

I do not sing, though. My singing is introverted. Shoutout to my neighbors, literally. Our thin walls give them a front row seat to my most aggressive rap lyrics, shrillest falsettos, my most reckless of jazz-scatting. The longer I am alone in the apartment, the louder i get.

You understand.

Topple the notion that you are an introvert or extravert, and begin to consider the competing dimensions along which you tip one way or the other. Alone, some parts of you are recharging, and some are depleting. At a house party, you may find that you have 60 minutes before you no longer wish to talk to anybody, but you can cook for the room until the hors d’oeuvres run dry and it’s time for pancakes.

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