My poor extroverted best friend… both her boyfriend and I, the two people closest to her, are undeniably introverted. Lucky for her, I have a ridiculously huge battery capacity (and no, I am not an awkward, monotone, battery-operated cyborg, for any extroverts who happen to come across this post).
You may have heard of the “social battery” before:
- Extroverts get their energy from being around other people
- Introverts get their energy from spending time alone with themselves
I’ve found this way of looking at social personality to be an extremely accurate way to describe it. People who haven’t heard of this, tend to assume extroverts are outgoing, and introverts are shy, which is not true in many cases.
Exhibit A: my best friend and I.
- She’s an “anti-social extrovert” (thanks, Kendrick Lamar). She gets social anxiety, overthinks conversations, and is wary around new people… but she craves human proximity.
- I’m a theatrical introvert and often refer to myself as a “dapper little gentleman”. I’ll give wedding toasts, host parties, and loudly reprimand strangers in public when need be… but I’d rather do all of those things with my cats instead of people if given the choice.
Like most things in this world, introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum. However, this may be difficult to conceptualize considering the source of your energy is very binary: either you get a recharge from being around others or from being around yourself.
Some people describe the middle of the spectrum as “ambiverts”, displaying qualities of both, but when it comes down to it, these ambiverts still recharge in one way or the other, so I am offering an alternate explanation. (Disclaimer: I have precisely ZERO qualifications in psychology, but I am going to tell you my theory regardless).
Exhibit B: BATTERY SIZE
Have you ever met an introvert who shuts down after about 15 minutes of social interaction? That’s my bestie’s boyfriend. He has a tiny battery (insert requisite anatomy joke). He has to recharge on a whim which leads him to abruptly pull out of social situations with little to no warning. He is a classic, socially awkward, shy introvert.
Then there’s people like me who can slap on a smile and bust out the social razzle dazzle with the best of the butterflies. Oh, but don’t talk to me for an entire week afterwards.
That’s the thing: large batteries take longer to fully recharge. The BFF’s BF can completely drain in those 15 minutes, but give him an afternoon alone to gather his thoughts, and he’ll give you another 15 minutes at dinner. I can be the life of the party, day into night, but once I’m done, I’m done.
The same works for extroverts. The bestie has a tiny extrovert-battery. While the social anxiety might make her appear introverted on the outside, all it takes is one good social interaction to charge up her little battery fully. This differs from say, an early 2000s socialite, who had to constantly show up at raves in attempts to charge their enormous extrovert batteries (and stay socially relevant in the tabloids for their lack of panties).
Sure, we could take this metaphor further with different charge speeds, back-up batteries, and Li-Ion vs potato batteries. By “we”, I mean “you”, I’m not going to take this any further. I simply wanted to present a visual tool to help explain the spectrum of social personalities in the hopes that people will have an easier time understanding those who live elsewhere on the spectrum. The end. Imma go recharge now.