Each of us has an innate temperament — a way that we gain energy and prefer to interact with the world. Introverts feel energized when they turn inward, while extroverts are at their best when interacting with the external world.
Our nature is generally stable throughout our life, meaning it doesn’t change, although circumstances can bring out different sides of us and make us more extreme in one way or another.
It’s helpful to understand your temperament, because, “when you make life choices that are congruent with your temperament, you unleash vast stores of energy,” writes Susan Cain, author of the bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
On the other hand, when you spend too much time fighting against your nature, the opposite happens and you end up depleting yourself. Think of the introvert who feels pressured to stuff his schedule full of social events, or the extrovert whose career forces her to be alone for long periods of time.
Of course, there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. “Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum,” the famous psychotherapist Carl Jung once noted.
Even an extremely introverted person may occasionally step outside of her comfort zone and act in an extroverted way. Introversion and extroversion are more of a continuum, with most people falling just a little closer to one end or the other.
Do you know what really makes someone an introvert, and are you actually one? To find out, take the 21-question quiz below, which was adapted from Cain’s book. The more questions you answer with a ‘true,’ the more introverted you are. If you have roughly an equal number of ‘trues’ and ‘falses,’ consider yourself to be an ambivert, which is someone who exhibits qualities of both introversion and extroversion.
All images: Rona Keller