Introvert vs. Extravert


I know many of you who are reading this are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory. You will understand when I tell you I am an INFP. There is no T in there. T stands for Thinking and Logic. Logically this page would follow the last one and be about me bragging about my children, but it's not. They will definitely show up when it feels right to me and I get a clear YES. I learned that "clear YES" thing from my 2nd mother-in-law, Annette Goodman Greenwood, who turned out to be one of my best friends.

If you haven't taken the Myers-Briggs, it makes Jung's theory of psychological types understandable and practical. I'm not going to get into the theory which you can read online, or not. I just want to tell you a story about my personal experience with the MBTI. When I first took the test in college, it was obvious that my results would depend on the way I answered the questions. When I first learned the word introvert, I knew I was one, but in my younger days I picked up the impression that somehow there was something wrong with being an introvert. I didn't want anyone to know that about me, so I answered the questions as if I were an extravert and ended up being type ENFP, Extraversion-Intuition-Feeling-Perceiving.

Before I continue, if you know me well, you know I am a bibliophile who married a bibliophile. Our love for books made for countless fascinating conversations. Since we read a lot of books, it was inevitable that we often came across words that were new to us and we were in the habit of looking them up and sharing the answers. Gordon preferred to use his tried and true unabridged dictionary while I chose In the process, we both added a lot of new words to our vocabularies and we learned how to spell them. That said, I know some of you reading this may think I misspelled extravert (because you told me so) and are fairly sure it should be correctly spelled extrovert. I once thought that, too, but I was wrong, it is not. If you care to know, the roots of the words are intro (inward) and extra (outward), with the suffix "vert" (turned). I know none of this really matters when I think of life as a whole! I credit my father for my love of language and books. I have his original Latin textbook and the memories of him sitting me down to teach me Latin years before I studied it in high school. I could easily go way off on a tangent as I remember those sweet moments but I might not be able to reel myself back in to finish this page. defines extraversion
as the state of being concerned primarily with things outside the self, with the external environment rather than with one's own thoughts and feelings. After I came to my senses years later, I saw how ridiculous I had been to influence my test results so I retook the test honestly. I came up with my true type, INFP, which stands for Introversion-Intuition-Feeling-Perceiving.

The meeting of two personalities is like
the contact of two chemical substances:
if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

                                                                                                                Carl Jung

Fast forward to many years later, I told Gordon this tale, since he had books on the subject and used it in his Educational Psychology classes at UF.  He said he didn't think it was possible to manipulate one's type like that. The questions were written to override any possibility of doing that.
I laughed because I thought that was funny and limiting. I had done it, and if I could do it, I was sure other people could. That inner college girl I once was, had put a value judgment on the whole introvert vs. extravert dichotomy. I had to learn that one way of being in the world is no better or worse than another.

Now I bask in my preference for Introversion, my dominant function when I'm in my favorite world, my comfortable inner world where I go to figure things out best on my own. I learned that the last letter "P" of my INFP type is about the perception function I use with the outside world.  And all this came about because I didn't feel like writing about my children yet!

I'll close with a quote by Isabel Briggs Myers that was eye-opening for me.

If you don't know what an extravert thinks,
you haven't been listening.
If you don't know what an introvert thinks,
you haven't asked them.

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I'm Willing To Open My Eyes
Lyrics and Music by Donna Marie Cary

I'm willing to open my eyes
to see your innocence
to see the child you are
a mirror of myself

(repeat several times)