You’d think this one would be a slam-dunk, but maybe not. Oh, and there are Ambiverts, too. I believe they eat ants, swim underwater and lay eggs… or something. Actually Ambiverts are right down the middle of the road… and I suspect that most people live in that grey continuum, with very few of us being pure introvert or extrovert, though some of us come pretty close.
Something that might surprise you: The life of the party, the stand-up comedian? The one who’s always “On”? 95% of the time, they are introverts. Remember Johnny Carson? Super introvert. After the show or at a cocktail party, he’d hide in the corner and then leave early. Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Louis Black, Tina Fey, Steve Martin, Bob Newhart, Elaine May just off the top of my head. Elaine May used to faint at cocktail parties, ostensibly from boredom, but it was actually that she had just run out of adrenaline. It happens…
In America in particular, the spin we are given lately is that you must be an extrovert, you must be out-there and in complete control of the room… OR… you’re not a leader. Yes, the world needs take-charge people who tell the others what to do. But we also need the other half of that equation, people who are seriously considering what the best thing is for those people to be doing. You need both. Lincoln was a introvert. Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, virtually all the inventors. Robin Williams? If two people got in an elevator with him it was SHOW TIME!
Confessions of an Introvert: If you’ve read a handful or two of these blogs/articles, you probably know more about me than you should. Well, no point in changing horses now. Yeah, I am a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. Pamela is as close to a pure introvert as I’ve ever seen, though few people know it. In fact, 90% of our friends would think exactly the opposite. When Pamela and I go out, even to the grocery store, it’s more analogous to a performance than anything else. We can have the folks at the cash register or at the fish counter, rolling on the floors and thinking we’re crazy-weird. Then we go out to the car, load up the food… and crash.
It might be like being a small human volcano or perhaps a geyser. Things boil around inside the head, thoughts appear, anecdotes come to mind and are cataloged for future use; interesting tidbits of news from the day are categorized, then digested… and then that night when some friends come over to dinner, it can be pretty wild! With the right couple we can invent a new product in one evening. We usually have great nights socializing… but then as their headlights disappear behind the trees… we crash.
There was an article that came out this morning: Are All Writers Introverts? We all know that it’s dangerous to say “All” or “None,” “Always” or “Never” because there are usually exceptions. But, yeah, I’d say pretty much any serious writer would have to be an introvert if they’re going to succeed. When Pamela and I were first married, she wanted to be sure my den/writing room had the best possible view. I didn’t know better and thought it was a nice idea. What you learn though, is if you’re a writer and you’re aware of the birds singing in the trees outside your window… you’re in trouble. There’s something weird and difficult to explain that takes place. When you’re writing, you aren’t there… at all. But unlike reading a book, there isn’t a next paragraph or page to pull you along, only the scene that’s playing like a movie inside your head.
Writing is like surfing… mind surfing. Once you’re up and on a wave, it’s a wild fun trip. It’s like following along behind your characters with a notebook. If they tell a joke, it’ll actually be the first you heard of it… and you laugh. But when you’re not up on that wave, then it’s root canal.
One sure-fire test to see if you’re extrovert or introvert: You’re invited to a party. You say, “Sounds GREAT! We’ll be there!” But then a day later when you think about it, you groan. “Oh God, here we go again. It’s either talk to their dog all night… or perform.”
I have one or two friends who are extroverts and sometimes I envy them. More often, though, I just don’t understand them. I really don’t. How can somebody be “On” all the time? I don’t have the energy to do that. Never did. Never will.
Oh, well… time to dematerialize and get back to writing/living chapter 28 of The Way-Back Machine. Things are getting dicey. Have no idea where it’s going.