A “True” Introvert

There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum. Carl Jung.png

I’m always surprised by what the internet thinks an introvert is. Listicle after listicle will say that an introvert is someone who shuns plans with friends, ignores humanity from days on in and lives in some sort of Frodo Baggins book-filled Hobbit Hole.

Well, folks. Sit down. Today, we’re gonna talk about introversion, being a crappy friend and what it means to get power from the self or power from the crowd.

Here’s a good time to discuss the difference between introversion and extroversion. An introvert as described by the Myer-Briggs Personality Test of Magic and Mostly Nonsense is a person who generally sounds like this, apparently:

I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

And extrovert is someone who looks a little like this, apparently:

I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

The main differences between the two is that an introvert gets power from within while an extrovert gets power from the crowd or others.

In the made up land of Myers & Briggs (and I only say made up because it is reductive to say you can fit all of a person into literally 4 letters but like astrology, when it’s right, it’s right) I am an INFP. That is the archetype of the “idealist” and this is what that looks like:

As an INFP, your primary mode of living is focused internally, where you deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system. Your secondary mode is external, where you take things in primarily via your intuition.

INFPs, more than other iNtuitive Feeling types, are focused on making the world a better place for people. Their primary goal is to find out their meaning in life. What is their purpose? How can they best serve humanity in their lives? They are idealists and perfectionists, who drive themselves hard in their quest for achieving the goals they have identified for themselves.

INFPs are highly intuitive about people. They rely heavily on their intuitions to guide them, and use their discoveries to constantly search for value in life. They are on a continuous mission to find the truth and meaning underlying things. Every encounter and every piece of knowledge gained gets sifted through the INFP’s value system, and is evaluated to see if it has any potential to help the INFP define or refine their own path in life. The goal at the end of the path is always the same – the INFP is driven to help people and make the world a better place. (source)

I am an introvert and that surprises a lot of people. Many know me from paneling, podcasting, cosplaying, running organizations or generally being the center of attention. None of my friends would describe me as having a small personality and no one I work with has ever been able to claim that I don’t leave an impression.

So when do I have time to curl up in a cocoon of manga panels and mainline Mr. Pibb and ignore humanity in a sea of books I can’t afford and will never finish? The truth is that the Internet Introvert just isn’t real. Introverts aren’t just hermits. They aren’t hobgoblins that shirk away from sunlight and ignore humanity just to read and write fanfiction and sure there are introverts that do that but not every introvert is like that. And the continual perpetuation that an introvert is some sort of silkworm pupae that nestles in and ignores plans and calls from friends to binge watch Netflix is just immature.

If a friend needs me, I’m the first to hop in my car and be with them. If a friend cancels plans, am I sometimes happy? Sure sometimes. Am I also sometimes really disappointed that I’m wasting a full face of makeup and cute outfit? Absolutely and I will occasionally go out anyways if that happens. Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I can’t command an audience. Doesn’t mean I hate going out. Doesn’t mean that I don’t like other people. It just means I don’t get a lot of power from those actions. If you’ve seen me panel I’m energetic and vibrant. I adapt to the changes of crowds and answer questions gracefully and with charm. After the panel? Oh, after the show is a whole different story. In the Whataburger at 2 AM after a panel is a very different Amanda. And even after convention I am usually exhausted emotionally for days after. The crowd takes my energy. And sure, sometimes I get perked up from the crowd. Carlos has noted many times that he can see the sparkle in my eye when I’m on stage but the power I get is not equal to the power I give.

The difference between introversion and extroversion is what gives you power and I do not get a ton of power from people. That doesn’t mean I don’t like other people or that I don’t like going out. I also do get lonely and don’t like being by myself for too long.  And the idea that introverts are strange magical bat creatures diminishes all the good that introverts who have to be public do.

You know what real introversion is? Sitting down after convention at Mozart Bakery with Carlos over aloe vera tea and rainbow cake. Introversion is sewing while watching Deadliest Warrior. Introversion is still comforting a friend after a long day. Introversion is late night phone calls despite being tired and firing up an audience only to sit in your hotel bedroom while watching 5 hours of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

That’s what being an introvert is. And it certainly doesn’t involve being a garbage person who just likes to flake out on friends and shun commitments.

So is now the time that I ask for my book fort, obnoxious blanket pile and general disdain for humanity?


Moths of a Feather


I tend to think of myself as laid back, easy-going and mellow.

I am none of those things: or at least, that’s what my friends say.

I am anxious, high-strung and very worried about being on time.

I’m a typical Type A kind of person. I stick to alarms. I’m almost always on time and if I’m not on time, I’m early. I keep a planner (still). I plan routes when I’m going someplace I don’t know.

So what’s the difference? Why do I perceive myself as laid back and then have to realize that I’m not?

I’m very laid back on my own. If it’s a Saturday afternoon with nothing else to do I love exploring, getting lost (within reason) and taking my time. Traffic doesn’t phase me much and when I’m with others I’m very mellow and relaxed about traffic especially on long trips. But that luxury and ease comes with being early almost everywhere. I’m not one for sleeping in on the weekends and even when it comes to work I’m often the first one in the office.

My Meyer-Briggs type is INFP (Introvert, Nurturing, Feeling, Perceptive )and I’ve always felt that matched me perfectly. I’m also a Cancer: another pseudoscientific way to rationalize how someone so calm on the outside can be so high-strung on the inside.

Where does the neurotic tension come from? Adding literally anything or anyone else to the equation. I’m intense about deadlines, dates, appointments and the like. If I’m meeting a friend for dinner, rest assure that my route is planned with back ups. If I’m paneling, I’m ready with alternate clothing and presentation on 2 flash drives and a CD just in case.

Paneling is interesting because it was actually AnimeFest last year that showed me just how much being a panelist takes out of me. I worry, I freak out. I want it all to be perfect the first time. I fret over no one showing up. I worry about audio issues. I get anxious about things I can’t control so I overcompensate and control the things I can like knowing EXACTLY where my room is and how much time I have to set up given any situation.

It’s strange because I’m an odd creature of perception. Most of my friends see me as a bright, extroverted gal with a big personality, tiny stature and a comment for everything. I see myself as a quiet, mostly bookish rather plain thing who isn’t remarkable at all. A friend of mine even said I sounded more like a anime’s main character than a real person.

I think perception over reality is very interesting. Convention brings up another great point: I think of myself as very introverted but many notice how I light up on stage. I clearly draw power from an audience: it might not be as much as a real extrovert but I am more pumped up by applause and a crowd than I probably give myself credit for. I’m also reminded of this any time a friend is late for a dinner outing or a panel runs over time, cutting into how long I have to set up or whenever a costume fails and a last minute change has to be made.

I tend to straddle both worlds since clearly there is plenty of me that is go-with-the-flow but still plenty of me that’s a pragmatic Type A. I tend to attract people that are either just like me or completely the opposite and I find that I have a more polarizing opinion of both. Sometimes I need to just be Type A and to freak out, panic and find a solution: during those times I need to be told to calm the hell down. When I’m too mellow: sometimes even I need a swift kick in the pants. But both type of person in my life tends to simultaneously infuriate and inspire me. When planning for upcoming conventions I told a dear friend of mine that I was still very shaken from last year’s convention because that me: a me that felt so out of control was not a me that I have met in a long time and that has shaken some of my confidence.

Describe Me!
Just a few of the words my friends have used to describe me.

There’s nothing wrong with being a little bit of both: ambivert is a word for it. Social moth is another: I can play pretend I’m a social butterfly but I do get far more energy on my own or with close friends. That doesn’t mean I won’t get up and dance in public. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep a planner. That just means, I’m me. Continuously complicated and remarkably unremarkable. Stunning in my simplicity and full of social contradictions.