Who knew? I don’t think anyone would have guessed it before I figured it out. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but I’ve been procrastinating, because I know it will be fairly long.
Let’s back up and give you some background. When I was much younger–four or five years old, probably–my family all took the Enneagram personality test. The Enneagram typing system, briefly, has nine numbers that stand for different personality types. 1 is the Perfectionist, 2 is the Helper, 3 is the Achiever, etc. According to the Enneagram typing system, you are primarily one of these numbers, with part of an adjacent number as your “wing.”
As I’ve had more time to think about it–three quarters of my life, technically–I’ve come to not like it very much, but at the time, it inspired in me a love of personality typing. (The reason I don’t particularly like–though don’t dislike–the Enneagram system is that it is a measure of the obvious; that is, it tells you what your behaviors are. Its types are also broad enough so that I tend to overlap in many of them, making it more difficult to believe I was a certain type simply because I may have answered one question differently to get that type.)
Fast forward some time–I didn’t keep track of how long; I didn’t know I’d be writing this blog post–and my brother discovered the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. It uses four binaries to create sixteen personality types. In other words, the types are four letters, each letter can be one of two: I or E, S or N, F or T, and J or P. An advantage–in my mind–MBTI has over the Enneagram system is that it is based on Jungian cognitive theory; that is, it tries to type how people think at their core, but not their behavior, necessarily. That will be important later.
Though my brother has since come to deplore it–though I’m sure he would use lesser language–at the time, he was fascinated with it. Our whole family took tests, and I came out as ISTP. The important part to understand about this is that the first letter can either be an I or and E, standing for Introvert and Extrovert respectively.
At the time, it seemed to fit my personality quite well. I recall one of the descriptions of ISTPs being that they were a bit of a mercenary, and I, being the young, foolish boy I was, saw that and ignored the rest. Whether or not I would have realized anything then had I looked further I don’t know. I doubt I would have realized I was an extrovert, but maybe I would have seen that I was an N rather than an S like I did when…
When I went to public high school–after being home schooled prior to that–they had all the students take a MBTI test (which was horribly built, but I won’t go into that), and I came out as INTJ. I knew I was an ISTP (Ha!). I definitely wasn’t an INTJ (Heh). Then my mom suggested I retake the test at home with one of the tests I trusted. What do you know, I came out as INTP. After looking at various descriptions of the INTJ and INTP and ISTP (LETTERS!!), I decided that I actually was an INTP, so the school test wasn’t all wrong.
At no point had I questioned my introversion. I didn’t like talking to people. I didn’t like going out with friends. I didn’t like being the center of attention. Of course, you know there’s a “but” coming.
But then I went to college. I made several friends in the dorm I was in–sorry, “residential hall”–and in the InterVarsity chapter (as I’ve discussed before). I still didn’t like being the center of attention, and I definitely tended to be the quietest person in the room when there more than my two roommates around. Even when it was just us three I was quiet unless the INFJ was talking to me–I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I love INFJs before, so there you go. They’re awesome.
So I’m an introvert wrong? Since you’re smart enough to remember the beginning of this post, you know the answer is no. See, all the MBTI tests I’ve taken say I’m an introvert. How I act says I’m an introvert. So let’s tear those two points apart.
First is the MBTI tests. Early on this Summer, while I still thought I was an INTP, I was texting with my brother about MBTI and we mentioned–I don’t remember which one of us brought it up–how the MBTI tests seemed to be testing shyness vs. outgoingness rather than introversion vs. extroversion. The difference being that shyness vs. outgoingness is a measure of fear in social interactions, while introversion and extroversion are, simply, where you get your energy, either by being alone or by being with others respectively.
Of course, that didn’t mean that I wasn’t an introvert, just because the tests tend to test the wrong thing. So then we turn to how I act. While at college, I didn’t talk a lot, especially in larger groups of people (and we’re talking more than four or five people; it didn’t take much). However, I still enjoyed being around them, even if I was only listening.
Then there’s the matter of text vs. speech. Text is a lot easier for me, to the point that, in a private group chat with friends, such as a Facebook group for my D&D group, I am at least 90% more likely than anyone else to be the one that initiates something. In the case of the D&D group, I’d be the one asking about the next meeting or posting random things I thought they would appreciate. In texting my (majority INFJ) friends, I’m almost always the one that initiates it.
I’m not an introvert. I’m a shy extrovert.
Well. I was.
See, when I finally figured out I was an ENTP in the middle of August, I started noticing some changes in my behavior. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but if not, I take karate lessons while I’m home from college. Continuing my trend from above, I wasn’t particularly outspoken (understatement of the century). Then, after I decided I was an ENTP, I noticed myself talking more. When I would usually keep my mouth shut because of what I suppose was anxiety, I spoke freely. When I would usually not be the first person to say anything, I was speaking up.
It was very disconcerting. I hadn’t done anything to make this change except change what I was calling myself. Where I had expected I would need to work hard to act myself–a.k.a. extroverted–when I went to college, I was now doing it naturally; accidentally.
This coming year will be interesting. I’ve really only had opportunity to test my extroversion at karate, which is only for an hour at a time. It will be interesting how I do in a setting that is much more often catering to extroversion. Hopefully it will help me get out of this state of blah I’m in that I attribute to lack of peopling (which, surprisingly, is a word, but sadly, does not mean what I want it to mean).
Toodles. (No. Don’t let me ever say that again. Again. I’m pretty sure I’ve already told you that. Which means you failed. Because I just said it. Again. Which I told you not to let me do. I think. You might be in big trouble. Not that I’m going to check.)