The Christmas party season has arrived, a time to let your hair down for the holiday season in celebration of another year coming to an end.
Work parties, family gatherings, and friendship reunions are all common in December, but they might make your social calendar feel crowded.
If, like me, you’re wondering if you’ll have enough energy, both mentally and physically, to get through it all, it might be a good idea to figure out whether you’re a ‘introvert’ or a ‘extrovert’ before you put on your glittery jumper.
The concept has long been contested, with extroverts being perceived as gregarious, socially confident individuals, whilst introverts are perceived as introverted, quiet, and preferring to spend time alone.
But, according to boundaries expert Michelle Elman, just because someone is shy doesn’t indicate they’re introverted, and vice versa, so it’s not that straightforward.
And she believes that knowing your personality type is essential for determining how to refill your energy.
“If you know whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it may be a really valuable tool for self-awareness,” she told the Mirror.
For many years, I considered myself an extrovert since I was constantly outgoing, eager to do new things and make new acquaintances. But being under lockdown for two years changed everything for me.
I used to be afraid of going for a walk with a buddy outside of my ‘bubble,’ and living in the north meant I had stricter guidelines to follow for about 18 months.
So, as we were coming out of the epidemic regulations and things began to return to normal, I found that I couldn’t fit in too many social events in a short period of time.
I kept stating I was busy when I could have easily made it, but I felt it was necessary to protect my time, even though I had nothing planned.
Meeting new people was first stressful for me, but I gradually adjusted as I became accustomed to being out and about again.
Now that we’re officially in the party season of 2022, I decided to find out once and for all whether I’m an introvert or an extrovert. To find out, I went out every evening of the working week, all in the name of journalism.
I prepared for the massive task by sending a few texts requesting folks to meet me ahead of time, and it was actually easier to arrange than I expected.
Here’s how I did, along with some explanation from expert Michelle that should help you figure out your personality type…
Prior to this experiment, I would never have imagined making plans for after work on a Monday, let alone expecting my friend to accept to meet me.
We went to the pub for a couple (half) pints to keep things affordable. Because it was raining in Manchester, I secretly hoped my friend would cancel before leaving (no offence to my date).
But, in reality, I appreciated having something to look forward to, and once there, the mundane Monday blues vanished.
It felt more pleasant to be out socializing because it felt so out of the ordinary, and it actually gave me a boost.
I’d even go so far as to say that felt like I’d done something productive with my time instead of lazing on the sofa, and that when I got home, I felt prepared for the week ahead.
On Tuesday, I forced myself back onto the bus, this time to go into town for some exercise.
I don’t go to the gym alone, but I do enjoy workout classes, which may reveal something about my personality.
Knowing it happens every week, it’s easy to find an excuse not to go if I’m feeling tired, but this week I was determined.
Instead of rushing out the door once we finished, I invited a buddy to join me for tea.
We purchased some halloumi gyros from a Greek food vendor we constantly go by and comment on how amazing it smells, so I was glad to actually sample it.
I stroll back to the bus station with a bounce in my step, feeling energized and elevated.
I’m halfway through the week, sometimes known as hump day.
Even though I’ve only been out two nights, I feel like I’ve accomplished so much and that it should already be Friday. (I really should get out more…)
I’ve opted to meet a friend I haven’t seen in months, and we’ve decided on a new location to dine – and even better, it’s half-price on food – a deal I would not have found if I’d just gone out on a Friday or Saturday night as usual.
I can walk back because I’m not too far from home, so I’ll be in by 9 p.m.
But as soon as I get home, I collapse onto the sofa.
I needed that time to decompress and just sit alone to unwind before going to bed.
Was the buzz of talk and beverages a little too much?
When Thursday arrives, I’m feeling sorry for the old coworker I’m supposed to see because I’m exhausted by this time.
I’d arrange for us to do something more lively, like bowling, which I haven’t done in years and discovered I’m certainly out of practice.
My out-of-town friend struggles to find parking and gets lost, so I’m at the bowling alley alone when our allotted time slot begins, making it even more tempting to turn around and watch some TV in bed instead (sorry friend).
Thankfully, he shows, and we make it through the game and then grab a bite to eat to catch up.
But it doesn’t stop there because when it’s time to go home, we can’t find his car since he’s not sure how he got from the car park to meet me.
We go around in circles for approximately 40 minutes before finding it, and by this point, we’re both exhausted – but laughing.
I’m not sure I can measure my energy levels accurately after this one, but it was a memorable evening that I would have lost out on if I hadn’t made the effort.
It’s the last day of the work week, which is usually when I’m most eager to go out and socialize, and tonight is no exception.
I take my partner to a food festival, which is filled with people, but at least the discussion is easy for my final day of the test.
After we’ve fueled up, we’re off to a historic cinema to see a special screening of The Godfather.
I hadn’t given it any thought, sitting in a dark room for one of the longest films made after a hectic week.
I was able to nod off within an hour. Is it me or the movie?
Over the course of the five days, I realized that being around people and friends makes me feel energized, so I guess I am an extrovert, though I wouldn’t encourage any extrovert making plans every evening, and as Michelle later says, we all need a little time to heal.
While I don’t have the money or the organizational abilities to keep this up, I admit I’ve been a bit lax in the past when it comes to making plans.
After my small trial, I can confidently declare that I’m looking forward to going out over the Christmas party season, ready to mingle for the first time in what feels like a long time after scuttled plans in prior years – but will be passing on every night.
Michelle, a five-board accredited life coach, boundaries expert, and author of The Joy Of Being Selfish, wants to debunk the two words.
“For years, there has been so much confusion about the terms extroversion and introversion that we have even begun to refer to certain persons as extroverted introverts.”
“When you look at the definition of the word, it doesn’t make sense,” Michelle says.
“This is a term used to describe people who are gregarious and enjoy parties but yet require time alone.” This term has gained popularity because it accurately describes the majority of the world’s population.
“Most people need to be alone at some point, and most people will engage with other humans and like it.”
“However, this term should not be utilized because it distorts the true meaning of introversion and extroversion and extends its overuse.”
“Introversion and extroversion are about how you present yourself in a social context, and you can’t tell who is from the outside because it’s about how you refill your energy when you’re tired.”
“Are you the type of person who has to be with friends, or do you find energy in being near people and friends?”
“The mistake is that people believe that people who are talkative, gregarious, and outgoing are extroverts and that persons who are shy and quiet are introverts.”
It’s the stereotype of the person in the corner, and it’s not just inaccurate, but also unrelated. You can be both timid and outgoing. You can be both talkative and introverted.
“Another term used is ambivert, which describes those who switch between the two.
“While this may be a term with which people identify, even within extroversion and introversion, it is a continuum on which you can move up and down.”
For example, many survivors of the pandemic would have evolved to increased alone time and may now require greater solitude to recover.”
And why is it vital to choose between the two for yourself?
“If you know whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it may be a really valuable tool for self-awareness,” Michelle says.
“One is neither better or worse than the other; it is about self-awareness in order to know and appreciate oneself, as well as respect for the fact that other people may not require what you require when you are exhausted.”
“In the future, they will grasp how to restore their gasoline tank and the value of doing so and not letting us run ourselves ragged.”