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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Poor old extroverted me

If I'd ever doubted that I was essentially an extrovert, the last two days would have assuaged all my concerns.

To be clear, while Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines 'extrovert' as "one whose personality is characterized by extroversion; broadly: a gregarious and unreserved person", and 'extroversion' as "the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self", I'm really talking about the Myers-Briggs definition of the extrovert (as influenced by Carl Jung), which primarily identifies extroverts by the types of social situations that energize them. Extroverts, according to Myers-Briggs, gain energy from interaction with others, especially in group situations (as opposed to introverts, who are drained by group interactions, and gain energy from quiet self-reflection, or deep interaction with single individuals).

So, what makes me think I'm such an extrovert? What events occurred in the last short while to confirm my self-analysis of extroversion? I'll tell you what: meetings.

Twice in the last two days I've been in meetings at work -- productive meetings that involved a lot of conversation and communication of ideas, both abstract and concrete. Today, like yesterday, I came out of the meeting feeling jazzed, energized, all fired up, not only about the topics discussed, but about life in general. I've taken ginseng, and I've chugged Jolt Cola, and I'll tell you, the feeling is quite similar.

So, I get energy from interacting with others. Technically, that's not a surprise to the people around me. If you described me as "not really all that outgoing" to my coworkers and acquaintances, they'd probably think you had mistken me for somebody else.

Even still, working as a professional geek (the modern kind, not the biting-the-heads-off-of-live-animals kind) forces me to cultivate my introverted tendencies. With the exception of the XP model of paired programming, working on a computer all day is a lonely, solitary endeavour that requires a fair bit of self-motivation. It's nearly impossible to be successful at a job like this without figuring out some way to draw energy from the time spent alone. (Of course, you can always try to overcharge your batteries at night by engaging in hyper-social activities like clubbing, curling, or Magic cards, but if you miss even one night, you're screwed, and that kind of nighttime activity requirement plays hell with your sleep patterns.) As such, I have been forced to grow my introverted side, nurturing it to provide me with the energy I need to perform well at my job. In fact, I do it so much, I forget sometimes that I'm naturally an extrovert.

It's nice, then, to have days where I get to indulge my extroversion. It's like drinking straight from the source: refreshing as all get out.



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