Transforming from an Introvert to an Extrovert: 7 Inevitable Impediments
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During a hiking excursion with my group, I was taken aback when a fellow hiker labeled me as an extrovert. Excuse me? I am undoubtedly an introvert. I always have been and always will be.
However, this comment did provoke some thought: Can an introvert transform into an extrovert?
We all must adjust to our circumstances, and I have learned to speak up and stand up for myself. But does that make me an extrovert?
This remark reminded me of Brené Brown's Call to Courage documentary on Netflix. In the film, Brené reveals that she herself is an introvert, which surprised many in the audience, given her influential and innovative public speaking skills. It's not a quality commonly associated with introverts, right?
I felt compelled to uncover whether it is possible to transition from being an introvert to becoming an extrovert.
If you are curious and pressed for time, it is safe to say that becoming an extrovert is not possible for an introvert. You may exhibit slightly more extroverted tendencies in certain situations, but at the core, you remain an introvert.
Back in the early 1900s, psychologist Carl Jung introduced the terms "introvert" and "extrovert" to describe a person's personality. Introversion and extroversion are situated on opposite ends of a continuum, with individuals who possess a balanced blend of both termed as "ambiverts," located in the middle.
The primary determining factor in identifying someone as more introverted or extroverted lies in how they expend or recharge their energy.
Introverts direct their focus inward, seeking solitude to replenish their energy and find relaxation. On the other hand, extroverts draw their energy from external stimuli. As an introvert, you may find social situations draining, which is why carving out "me time" becomes essential to recharge your mental and emotional batteries.
Introverts are content immersing themselves in their thoughts, ideas, and emotions, as external stimulation, such as groups or crowds, tends to overwhelm and lead to burnout.
If you identify as an introvert, you likely possess qualities such as reserve, introspection, and a preference for calm and minimally stimulating environments.
Here are ten indicators that suggest you may be an introvert:
- You possess self-awareness
- You prefer tranquil environments
- You cherish solitude (#CrowdsAreABigNoThankYou!)
- You prefer writing over speaking
- You do not make decisions hastily
- You feel depleted after spending time in a group
- You cultivate a few deep and meaningful friendships and relationships
- Others will perceive you as intellectual.
- Your word choice is deliberate, enriching discussions.
- Your concentration is unwavering.
- Your attentive listening skills are commendable.
- You excel at being an outstanding companion and romantic partner – for the right individual.
- You thrive in written modes of correspondence.
- You may possess a profound level of self-awareness.
- Your independence is prominent.
- Your tendency for organization is heightened.
- Your expertise lies in meaningful and introspective conversations.
- You might face misconceptions due to lack of outgoing behavior (often mistaken for being antisocial or unfriendly).
- You may be misjudged as yielding easily.
- Being surrounded by lively individuals continuously negatively affects your inner being.
- Speaking, particularly within groups, may not be your forte.
- The process of networking induces stress in you.
- You prefer to work independently, which poses challenges when partaking in team or collective tasks.
- You might be overlooked during job promotions and other life opportunities.
A multitude of misconceptions or fallacies exist concerning introverts. Introverts are not universally homogeneous, implying that these misconceptions may hold validity for certain individuals yet not for others.
Here lie the most pervasive misconceptions regarding introversion:
Contrasting introversion, extroversion lies on the opposite end of the continuum. Individuals who identify as extroverts seek external sources to rejuvenate their energy. In the presence of others, extroverts feel invigorated, while solitude can lead to boredom or anxiety.
Introverts embody reserve, introspection, and tranquility, gravitating toward serene environments with minimal stimulation.
If you possess an extroverted nature, you exhibit characteristics such as being loquacious, amiable, and highly sociable. You have a natural affinity for socializing and seek attention, often becoming the center of attention in social gatherings. Expressing yourself and engaging with others come effortlessly to you.
Outlined below are 10 indications that you may possess an extroverted personality:
1. You enjoy being the center of attention.
2. You prefer collaborative and group work environments.
3. Spending excessive time alone leaves you feeling isolated and lonely.
4. You seek inspiration and ideas from others.
5. You have a large circle of friends and easily make new acquaintances.
6. Your actions are spontaneous, often preceding deep thought or analysis.
7. Sometimes, you may act impulsively.
8. You prefer discussing and resolving challenges and issues through communication.
9. You derive pleasure from new and unique experiences.
10. Your demeanor is lively and cheerful.
Additionally, the following traits and tendencies are commonly associated with extroverts:
- You radiate self-confidence.
- Adapting to different situations comes naturally to you.
- Forming connections and networking with individuals is effortless.
- You excel in team-oriented environments.
- You are inclined to take risks.
- Your personality aligns well with extrovert-centric workplaces and society.
- Your chances of being promoted to leadership positions are higher.
- Your adventures and experiences make you an engaging individual.
- It is likely that you experience more happiness, cheerfulness, and optimism compared to introverts.
- Sharing your thoughts and ideas feels comfortable and natural to you.
However, being an extrovert also comes with its fair share of misconceptions, including:
- Extroverts are not comfortable spending time alone.
- Extroverts do not possess the skill of mindful listening.
- Extroverts are perceived as excessively confident.
- Extroverts are only capable of engaging in superficial conversations and small talk.
- Extroverts lack creativity.
- Extroverts excel in the workplace compared to introverts.
- Extroverts make better companions and romantic partners than introverts.
- Extroverts possess superior managerial and leadership abilities compared to introverts.
- Extroverts are constantly happy.
- Extroverts engage in social activities all the time.
- Extroverts are self-centered.
- Extroverts never experience shyness.
- Extroverts do not have close friends.
Carl Jung, the famous psychoanalyst, once proclaimed, "There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such an individual would find themselves in a lunatic asylum."
And that statement holds true. No one can be purely introverted; individuals fall somewhere between the introversion-extroversion spectrum, with predominantly introverted traits and a hint of extroversion. Additionally, no two introverts are exactly alike.
So, while you lean towards introversion, is it possible for you to transition into an extrovert?
To a certain extent, you may develop certain extroverted characteristics due to societal expectations and the importance placed on social interaction. As a result, you, as an introvert, intentionally adopt more extroverted behaviors to be accepted and liked in relationships and professional environments. However, maintaining this extroverted persona becomes exhausting because it does not come naturally to you.
Yet, you do not have to worry about completely transforming into an extrovert and abandoning your innate introverted tendencies. Here are the primary reasons why an introvert cannot become an extrovert:
One significant explanation lies in how your brain functions, which likely has a genetic component determining your place on the introversion-extroversion scale.
Indeed, the brain of an extrovert operates differently from that of an introvert. How so?
An extrovert thrives on socializing, seeks attention, and embodies the life of any gathering.An introvert has increased blood flow to their frontal lobe, responsible for problem-solving, memory, and planning.
If you happen to possess extraverted tendencies, then there will be a decrease in the flow of blood to the regions of the brain associated with inhibiting behavior. Consequently, it follows that extraverts tend to exhibit a greater degree of expressive behavior, possess a proactive disposition, and display a notable sociability.
In stark contrast, introverts exhibit a divergent response to dopamine, a neurotransmitter commonly referred to as the "feel-good" chemical that provides the impetus to actively seek out external rewards.
While both introverts and extraverts possess the same quantity of dopamine, it is the extraverted brain where dopamine is seen to be more active, potentially indicating a greater abundance of dopamine receptors within their neural architecture. This heightened sensitivity to the effects of dopamine confers upon extraverts a greater sense of joy and contentment.
As a result, when dopamine floods the brain of an extravert, the elation associated with these positive emotions invigorates them, whereas introverts find themselves feeling overwhelmed by overstimulation. It is for this precise reason that introverts tend to exhaust their social energy reserves relatively quickly.
Furthermore, an introvert's brain exhibits an increased flow of blood along a specific pathway associated with acetylcholine, an excitatory neurotransmitter in the parasympathetic nervous system that plays a pivotal role in learning, memory, arousal, and neuroplasticity.
Hence, it is within serene environments that introverts experience satisfaction, allowing them to engage in deep contemplation, focused thinking, and introspection.
However, there is an additional aspect to consider. The parasympathetic nervous system oversees functions related to rest, digestion, and reducing activity levels. Introverts are inclined to embrace this parasympathetic side of their nervous system, enabling them to withdraw from external stimuli and conserve their energy.
During such moments, a sense of relaxation washes over introverts, preparing their bodies for contemplation and rest—two cherished activities that resonate deeply with introverted individuals.
On the contrary, extraverts gravitate towards activating their sympathetic nervous system, which is the antithesis of the parasympathetic system. The sympathetic system is renowned as the "fight, flight, or freeze" or "full throttle" side, igniting a desire for adventure, curiosity, and bold action.
When the sympathetic side is dominant, an extravert's brain remains on high alert and becomes hyper-focused, which explains their action-oriented nature and their ability to derive energy from social stimuli.
From a physiological perspective, psychologist Hans Eysenck posits that every individual possesses a unique arousal threshold. The reticular activating system (RAS), an intricate network of neurons located in the brainstem, assumes responsibility for regulating motivation, consciousness, and behavioral arousal.
Moreover, this system inculcates a role in how individuals process information, their fight or flight response, their capacity to concentrate, and their overall level of wakefulness. If a threat materializes, the RAS can escalate the arousal level, rendering individuals more alert and prepared to confront the danger head-on.
Introverts maintain elevated arousal levels, which explains their inclination towards calm and tranquility, paired with a preference for minimal external stimulation due to their tendency to become easily overwhelmed. By contrast, extraverts exhibit lower arousal levels, allowing them to thrive amidst a profusion of stimuli without succumbing to overstimulation, providing them with a sense of solace and ease.
Jerome Kagan and Nancy Snidman, two Harvard psychologists, proposed a direct connection between your behavior in youth and your behavior as an adult.
One crucial element in defining your character is your temperament, which encompasses your overall approach to the world. You may possess an introverted or extroverted nature, display seriousness or a laid-back attitude, or exhibit caution or boldness.
Introverts tend to spend a significant amount of time lost in thought. Your personality is believed to be more flexible compared to your temperament, especially during the stages of growth. Therefore, if you have an introverted temperament, it is improbable that it will drastically change over time.
The adage "once an introvert, always an introvert" holds true, despite the possibility of learning extroverted behaviors to adapt to a world that values extroversion. While your personality is more malleable, it tends to stabilize and become more fixed once you reach your thirties. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed that altering one's personality traits is highly unlikely.
The researchers suggest that even if you adopt certain extroverted behaviors, your original introverted tendencies will resurface when you experience exhaustion, fatigue, stress, or anxiety. Therefore, complete transformation into an extrovert is not feasible as your core essence remains introverted, causing you to default to introverted tendencies in your fallback state.
Now, I must pose the question: "Why would you desire to be an extrovert?"
Undoubtedly, extroverts are favored by society, making life easier for those who possess extroverted qualities. However, no matter how much you feign extroversion, you will always require ample "me" time to recharge, as social interaction tends to drain your energy.
Moreover, being an introvert offers numerous benefits as it allows you to be true to yourself. Whether you lean more towards a pure introvert or hover near the ambivert middle, introverts excel as effective and exceptional leaders. Furthermore, introverts make great friends due to their ability to build meaningful relationships that nourish your soul, make you feel seen and heard, and provide unwavering support.
You may feel like an outlier for being an introvert, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. You can cultivate extroverted qualities, such as public speaking skills, adeptness at small talk, and the ability to connect with others, to better navigate life. However, there is a need for introverts in the world.
The world requires individuals who possess deep thinking, a fresh perspective, and an appreciation for profound, meaningful relationships. The world needs individuals who are thoughtful, serene, and wise. And most importantly, the world needs you.
Therefore, embrace your introverted nature, be true to yourself, and the right people will recognize and value you for who you are.
If you are unsure about the strength of being an introvert, explore our list of 11 introvert strengths and qualities or discover the 9 things introverts excel at compared to their extroverted counterparts.
If you are interested in identifying your personality type, consider taking one of these 11 personality tests to gain a better understanding of your inner workings.
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