Voices: Unknowingly Introverted

by Jennifer Cammel

I remember when I was first told about the distinction between introverts and extroverts. It was in my seventh grade gifted class called Discover. Our teacher handed us a sheet of traits and told us to check the ones that we felt were most closely related to us.

There was a lot of traits that seemed to fit me. I loved to talk, something that got me in trouble a lot in school. I loved to perform, I did drama club and speech and debate in high school. I wasn’t shy in the least, I absolutely love meeting new people and making friends. I took charge in social situation.

According to the test, I was definitely an extrovert. This came up a lot more as I grew up. I took more tests, in class and online, that said I was an extrovert. People I met and adult figures would sometimes mention it. No matter the context, I know who I was: an extrovert.

I had many other traits of giftedness that seemed to fit into my idea of myself as an extrovert. I was often over excited, especially when in participating in my different activities like speech and debate. I loved knowing everything and I wasn’t shy about asking people questions when I needed answers. I had a wide range of interests and tries to succeed and tried out for all of them. Even all of these traits pointed to me being an extrovert.

But as I grew up, the idea I had about myself started to change. I still had some of the traits as extroverts; I still loved people and wasn’t shy at all, but I had other traits that didn’t quite fit the image I had of myself. I liked to be alone a lot, especially after I had been with people for a while. I would rather stay inside and read a book than go out to a party with friends, even though I did like to hang with my friends.

It was hard to change what I thought of myself. I was an extrovert, people had told me that my entire life. So how could we all be so wrong?

As I went through high school and am now adjusting to life at college, I am realizing that my view on extroversion and introversion weren’t exactly correct. I was always told that introverts were shy, extroverts weren’t. I wasn’t shy, therefore I was an extrovert. After doing more research, I realized that it isn’t as simple as I thought and the issue isn’t simply black or white. I love to talk to people and I’m not shy but I still would call myself an introvert because I like quiet and need to recharge after social situations.

Finding out what I really label myself as has been such a revealing experience. Introversion doesn’t mean timid or mousey, and I’m glad I found who I really am.