Recently, I took a personality test similar to the Myers-Briggs test, and came out for the first time as an extrovert. In the past, every test I've done has had me as ISFJ, an introvert. I was devastated. It seems like extroverts are not well received; boorish, loud-mouthed, insensitive. I always knew I leaned toward being extroverted, but I just didn't want to admit it. I'm not popular or jovial enough to be an extrovert. Perhaps there was a mistake.
I mentioned this to my husband, and he, being an introvert and someone who has been called a troll by his sons, did what he often likes to do: tease me by goading me on the matter. After a lively debate, we concluded two things:
- some extroverts talk too much and want introverts to come out of their shells
- some introverts don't talk enough and want extroverts to shut up
I have generally thought of myself as an "on-the-fence-trovert." I do find being with people for too long tiring, but I don't to the extent that my husband and daughter and son do. I like to be with people, but I'm not nearly as energetic and people-oriented as my other son. I like good conversation, and I do tend to talk too much, but I also like being alone. I know introverts because I married one and gave birth to two. I know extroverts because I gave birth to one. I see a bit of both in myself. I would be willing to bet that there are a significant number of "on-the-fence-troverts."
I wonder if we aren't too concerned with such designations. It's tempting to make more of them than is wise. Being more extroverted doesn't give me the right to dominate the conversation, and being introverted doesn't excuse being completely uninvolved. One cannot say, "I can't serve in the local chuch because I'm an introvert, and I need to be alone" any more than someone else can say, "I'm an extrovert, and I should be the one running this project." Our personalities come to us naturally, and those are the things we're to take captive to Christ. I tend to talk too much, and I need to correct that just as my husband recognizes that sometimes, not saying something can be just as bad. Too much talking can hurt others, and so can too much silence. On the latter, ask anyone who has never heard the words "I love you" from a parent, and ask him his opinion about the issue. Introverts and extroverts alike have their weaknesses and personality traits which can be taken to a negative extreme.
I have been friends with introverts and occasionally those friendships have just dwindled and faded, because all of the effort was on my part, and after a while, it just seemed like the friend wasn't interested. That almost happened with my husband and me when we first knew each other. I'm sure my tendency to talk too much has chased some people away. Learning to understand people and be sensitive takes time, and yes, recognizing that just because he's silent all the time doesn't mean he doesn't care, and just because she talks more than she should doesn't mean she doesn't care what you think.
People are sinful, no matter what their "personality type," is, and we all recognize that we can't use these devices to excuse our sin or to prevent us from loving other people. I have no issue with people who like things quiet, and don't talk a lot. I live with someone like that. And I understand how isolating it can feel to long for conversation and be the only one home all day long.
I am resigned to being more extroverted than introverted, and I'll work hard to be quiet more often. But in the end, I want to worry less about personality designations, and more about the person in front of me, whatever four letters represent their personality. We all need to look at each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord, first and foremost, and extend love and grace no matter what our "personality type" is.