Have you ever taken one of those Myers-Briggs Personality tests? It asks you a bunch of questions and gives you a four-letter categorization of your personality based on four different characteristics. The first trait it attempts to evaluate is whether you are an introvert (I) or an extrovert (E). The letters are not supposed to mean that one or the other is necessarily better or worse. It is just supposed to tell people which way their personality leans. There is, by the way, some difference between introverted and shy. A shy person fears negative judgment by others and feels anxious in social situations, so they tend to avoid them. An introvert is usually introspective and feels overstimulated by social situations. They often prefer quiet, alone time to think instead of being around people. While they are not the same, there is some overlap between shy and introverted, namely, that both will often avoid social situations. For this reason, I believe that one possibility actually is better than the other. I encourage you to act like an extrovert.
If you are shy, or an introvert (which I will use interchangeably from now on), please do not get defensive. This is not an attack or even a criticism of you. In fact, when I take the Myers-Briggs test, I am an INTP. There is nothing wrong with being introverted. By that, I mean that there is nothing immoral about being shy. Someone is not a bad person because they are shy. This is entirely a qualitative assessment, not a moral one. I want all of us to have a higher quality of life.
What led me to this thought was a friend on social media. You probably have some friends online whose posts make you think. This particular friend of mine often posts stories and memes about being an introvert and trying to avoid going out and spending time with others. They are amusing and good-natured posts, but whenever I see them, it makes me feel bad for her. She is missing out on so much in life!
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes spending a night alone at home watching TV is great. That being said, almost all of the most memorable moments in life are spent with other people. Let’s be honest, people are interesting, and the only way to meet them is by putting yourself in a position to. My suggestion is to seek out opportunities to go interact with people. Join a club. Join a team or go to sporting events. Go to parties. Travel and mingle with the locals. Sing karaoke. Don’t worry about what people might think. Most people are too worried about what others think of them to be too critical of you.
Another great idea is to get a social job. Many of the articles about introverts suggest that they get jobs that do not require much interaction with other people, like computer jobs or cubicle jobs. Those articles imply that these jobs are a good idea because it fits the personality of the introvert. The better idea is to do the opposite. I once dated a girl who was bartending when I met her, but I soon realized was pretty shy. She said that she got the bartending job to force herself out of her comfort zone and meet new people. It worked, and her life was richer for doing it. Heck, she met me.
As I said, I lean towards introversion. It is all right if you think quietly at times. Occasionally, someone will notice I am not being talkative and will ask what is wrong. Most of the time, nothing is wrong and I am contemplating some deep issue of life, or some idea for an article for this blog. Being contemplative is perfectly fine. I am not suggesting you have to constantly be the loud, crazy, life of the party. Thinking before you speak or act is usually a good idea. People see the strong, silent type in a positive way for good reason. That being said, never let your feelings stop you from fully experiencing life.
The movie Yes Man with Jim Carrey is a fun, silly film, but it helped me to this realization. In the movie, Jim Carrey hears a motivational speaker who tells him to say “yes” to every opportunity that presents itself. When he does, he begins to thrive and succeed in many areas of life because he is putting himself in the position to do so, when previously he never would have had those chances. Of course, you can’t say “yes” to everything, and eventually, he figures that out, but the principle of being open to more opportunities is a good one.
My general rule is that if somebody suggests that we do something or go somewhere, as long as it is not immoral, I will say yes. If a friend calls and wants to go out, say yes. If somebody invites you on a trip, go. If you don’t feel like going, ignore that feeling! It will make your life fuller.
Now, I am going to follow my own advice. Instead of watching the rest of the baseball playoff games here in my hotel room, I am going to head out to a sports bar in Phoenix to watch. Maybe I will meet some new people and some fun adventures will ensue!