Introvert: Nature vs. Nurture
I’m having an identity crisis.
I’ve always thought I was an extrovert. Not that I’m the life of the party, by any means. But small talk and new people? Bring ‘em on! Crowded bars (pre-pandemic) and nights out with friends that turn into blurry mornings? Love ’em. At work? I was the equivalent of the annoying kid in class who always sat in the front row and volunteered for everything. Greeting fellow coworkers with a huge sunny smile at 9AM. Just happy to be there.
As I’ve come out of my 20s and into my 30s, my energy has turned from an eager golden retriever who gets jazzed for time with humans and early morning walks in the park to pure cat energy. If you’re one of five humans I like being around, I’ll let you within three feet of my coveted spot on the couch. No more and no less. And please keep visits to 30 minutes tops. I’ve got self-cleaning and a nap on the itinerary. This kitty needs some time to recharge.
Was I wrong the entire time? Was I, was I… an introvert?!
Have you felt that the older you get, the more introverted you become? We’ve been branded by either an introvert or extrovert label most of our lives. Do we have the power to change it? Or does time change it for us?
Nature vs. Nurture
Ahh, yes. The nature vs. nurture debate. But first, to understand where you are on the introvert/extrovert spectrum, this article in Psychology today breaks down the following six facets of Introversion-Extroversion:
- Warmth Facet
- Gregariousness Facet
- Assertiveness Facet
- Activity Level Facet
- Excitement Seeking Facet
- Positive Emotion Facet
Not only did researchers find that an individual’s scores in one facet didn’t necessarily affect another (meaning that Introversion-Extroversion is definitely fluid), but also that your score on each facet is likely to change over time.
An article in Introvert Dear confirmed what many of us have been experiencing, that as we age, we experience “intrinsic maturation.” Meaning, that our personality generally mellows out over time. The article also notes that biologically, it makes sense that the younger we are, the more extraverted we are. Extraversion is useful when it comes to mating and meeting new people. Makes sense, right?
Do I have to wait to switch gears?
It’s no secret that our society rewards extraverts–or that social pressures and wanting to “fit in” is a large reason why introverts may want to make the shift. While introverts can look like extroverts (many times from a feeling of social necessity), psychologists explain that while extroverted behavior can definitely become more of a habit with time and practice, don’t expect yourself to do a 180 overnight. Or to experience a fundamental shift in personality (studies show that personality traits don’t change a whole lot past 30). And that’s quite alright!
Embrace your inner introvert.
Yes, we know… this may sound like an eye roll, but it’s true! Introverts have superpowers that extroverts don’t – introverts are better listeners, more effective at building relationships, and more likely to be an incredible motivator, lifting up those around them.
And hey, with all of the technological advancements and our rapidly changing work landscape, many of us are WFH. Gone are the days of zapped energy from the unnecessary ambush of small talk during innocent coffee breaks at the office and here are the days to recharge in the comfort of your own home and do the work that needs to get done, without hearing about Mark’s son catching a 4.5 pound bass fish (for the fourth time).
It’s 2021. The introvert’s time to shine.
Allie Demopoulos is a Content Copywriter at Surprise.com. A writer and producer, she believes that humor is the greatest tool and that the best of anything–comedy, music, stories–are experienced in basements. When she’s not creating, you can find her in the electric streets of Manhattan, a place she feels lucky to call home.