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What are the differences between an extrovert and an introvert? How does being introverted affect your motherhood? Want to read Jamie Martin’s new book The Introverted Mom? Don’t miss the giveaway at the end of this post!
I have never been accused of being shy. I was the kid who could be friends with anyone. I enjoyed group projects in school, especially when everyone did what I wanted them to do. My older sister frequently had to tell me to just stop talking and go to sleep.I’ve never had a problem with public speaking, in fact I really enjoy it. In boot camp I was the knowledge recruit, in charge of yelling out facts that we were supposed to memorize for the other recruits to echo.
I also was a voracious book worm. Pretty much every day I would come home from school and hide in my room for a while. On the days mom made me go outside for fresh air I would often take my book with me out to the highest branches of the big tree in our back yard to just enjoy the quiet. I often get anxious and overwhelmed by large crowds. I HATE concerts or big parties. Heck even my noisy eight kids are just too much for me to handle at times.
As you can see I have a lot of tendencies that would point towards being an introvert, and many that would point towards being an extrovert. So which am I?
Introvert vs. Extrovert, What’s the Difference?
So am I an introvert or an extrovert?
It took me a LONG time to figure out how I tick. When I was in 8th grade my drama teacher had us take a personality test based on Carl Jung’s model of the 4 traits. I tested as an ENFP.
As a 19 year old in the Marine Corps I took a similar test again. That time I got INFP-T; the Mediator.
How could I score differently after a few years? Did my personality change?
To understand whether I was an introvert or extrovert I had to do some study on what they actually were.
Many people believe extroverted vs introverted is simply a collection of character traits. Shy vs. outgoing or loud vs. quiet. That really isn’t accurate.
The difference between extroverted and introverted is how our energy levels are depleted and recharged.
Think of it this way. If your out and about and your phone dies it needs to be plugged into a power source to recharge the battery. Grab the plug and hook it up to the handy dandy mobile power pack you have in your purse cause you’re awesome like that. As the phone’s battery power increases the mobile charging pack battery decreases. The power pack is feeding the phone.
Extroverts are the phone. When they plug into external stimulus they are recharged. They get energy from group activities and social interaction.
Introverts are the power pack. when they plug into external stimulus they are depleted. They are drained after too much social interaction and can be sensitive to too much external stimulation. Introverts recharge by getting quiet, peaceful alone time.
To put it another way extroverts need to seek out external stimuli to function at their best and introverts need to escape that same stimuli in order to be productive.
Once I understood this I realized that my score in 8th grade was wrong because of the way I perceived the questions. When they asked if I preferred to be with friends or alone I answered with friends. That categorized me as extroverted. The real answer (which wasn’t an option) was I prefer to be with a small group of close friends that I know.
When it asked if I was in the middle of the crowd at a party/dance or a wallflower I said middle of the crowd because I had a solid group of tight friends I felt comfortable with. Turns out we would often be hanging out together on the wall though, or I’d be asking someone to come with me out into the hallway for a bathroom or drink break to get away from the noise.
Once I got out of my safety net of close friends I had grown up with and into the real world my introverted tendencies became a LOT more obvious. Without my protective shell of friends I definitely was the wallflower, and even avoided the parties altogether.
I have taken the test again and again, on many different websites. Every time I now score as INFP.
Why Does Knowing I’m an Introvert Matter?
Have you ever noticed that the world we live in doesn’t really seem to value introverts? We’re constantly told to be more social. If a kid prefers to sit around and look at butterflies on the playground we worry that something is wrong with them.
As an adult in our go, go, go, instant gratification society an introvert’s desire for calm and peace is often not only disregarded, but belittled and condemned. Busyness has become a god to be worshipped, and quiet self-care often equated with the sin of sloth.
Understanding that I am an introvert has given me permission to reject the false teachings of the world and embrace the person that God created me to be.
I am calm. I am quiet. I like to learn and study. I love classical piano music. I like the quiet corner table in the restaurant. My books are often my best friends.
Not only do I like and prefer these things, but I NEED them. I can not be an empathetic, kind, caring mother, wife, or friend if I am not caring for myself.
If the power pack in your purse never gets plugged into the wall socket at home then it can’t charge your dead cell phone. If I don’t have my quiet recharge time then I can’t be there for my kids, husband, and friends. It is a NEED every bit as much as their connection is a need.
As an introverted mother I have often pushed myself past my breaking point because it was “right”.
Good mothers spend every minute playing with, snuggling, and reading to their children. They go to play dates and the park. They arrange field trips and activities. They turn on fun music for dance parties and love messy science experiments.
I homeschool eight kids. As I type this I have one little extrovert reading on the couch and another in his bedroom imagining something spectacular based on the quiet sound effects I hear. The rest are outside.
I try to work in their chaos, but it’s pretty much impossible. the extroverts get to go run crazy outside, making as much noise as their hearts desire, while I enjoy the peaceful sound of the dishwasher running while I type.
It took me a good half hour to write the first paragraph of this post while they were doing their house work before playtime. My productivity doubled once their energy was gone from the house.
I had to learn the hard way that trying to just push through all their chaos without caring for myself wasn’t good for any of us. I was irritable, unhapy, and frequently unkind.
It all culminated one day when I screamed “Why can’t you all just shut up for five flipping seconds!?!?!” as I swiped a Corel plate off the table which then shattered into a thousand pieces.
I then went to my room and sobbed. What was wrong with me? Who was this person?
I had always wanted to be a mother of a large family. I was so excited for all the fun I was going to have with my awesome kids (and they really are pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself). We were going to do all the things.
Who was this woman who yelled all the time and hated mother hood? Who was this woman who just wanted to run away from life? Who was this monster?
It was on this day as I swept of the pieces of the broken plate with tears streaming down my face and my kids staring at me in silence (I did get my 5 seconds of quiet lol) that I knew something had to change.
This was also the day that God sent me an answer in the form of Simple Homeschool with Jamie Martin. I’ve been following her on Facebook for a while, and on that day she announced that she was looking for people to join her book launch team.
Her book, The Introverted Mom, was exactly what my soul needed.
When I was accepted to her group and began to pre-read the PDF book she had me both laughing and crying in the first few pages. Ironically the beginning of her book also includes a story of her throwing a glass at the wall then melting in a puddle of tears. Oh how I could relate.
I was fighting the storms, battling to sail in the direction the world told me to instead of harnessing their power to drive me to the life that God wanted for me.
God doesn’t make mistakes. He made me an introvert ON PURPOSE. He gave me unique strengths that the world needs.
Introverts the world needs our calm. It needs our peace. It needs our quiet introspection.
Introversion also comes with weaknesses, but through God they can become strengths. After all, God makes weak things strong! It is through the broken things of this world that he shows his power and creates beauty.
I really want to share this book with the world, so I am giving a copy away. Just fill out your entries below and a winner will be chosen on Monday May 27th.
Have you ever taken a personality test? There are a ton to choose from, but my favorite is the Neris Type Explorer 16 personalities test.