Introversion as We Age?

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator, but one of the categories in it is introvert vs. extrovert. Essentially, an extrovert is energized and renewed by being around people. Public speakers and entertainers tend to be extroverted, as are good preachers – and a host of other people. Introverts, on the other hand, tend to renew and recharge by being alone and they most often prefer to work in occupations that don’t require a lot of presentations or public speaking. The most important thing in evaluating extroverts and introverts is not so much what they do vocationally, but rather what they do to recharge their batteries and recover when worn down.

My scores on this category have always been extroverted, but not by a huge margin – I come pretty close to being balanced. What I have noticed as I age is that, in terms of what I do when I need to recharge, I have become more introverted. Don’t misunderstand, I love being around people, I love doing weddings and baptisms, teaching meditation classes, leading worship, meeting new people, working a room, doing interviews – I love being “on stage,” as it were. BUT! When it’s all said and done, when I am tired and worn down, I want to be in my home, sitting quietly with my wife in our room. That would make me an introvert, at least so far as recharging my batteries is concerned.

The funny thing is that I had a conversation with some people of my relative youth <grin>, and they have had the same experience! As they have aged, their desire to be on the run and socializing when they are tired has diminished. Three people is hardly a random sample, but I wonder what your experience has been. Have you noticed changes through your twenties, thirties, forties, and (if applicable) fifties?

I have been thinking a lot lately about the idea that we change and evolve as we journey through life. We have times of building – career, family, income, status, and a host of other things – and time of finding meaning when our children are grown, our career is established and perhaps even peaked, and we look to the future wondering what comes next. Finding the answer to that question goes a long way to determining our happiness in the second half of life!

3 thoughts on “Introversion as We Age?

  1. I’m an INFP with a capital I. I used to socialize more than I do now, but I have always been able to tolerate (and enjoy) days without human contact. It’s a writer thing.

    My mother, 70, since she retired, has been engaging in more social activity than ever. It may just be that in the middle years you have less energy and you have to fit in socializing after work, parenting and all that and you don’t have a 25 year-old’s energy but once you’re not at work and your friends are not at work and you can get together during daylight hours, maybe it picks up again. On the other hand I read (somewhere) that most people make all of their close lifelong friends by age 25.

    1. I like the logic of that, maybe I am just recovering my energy – sounds good to me! As for the lifelong friends by 25, I am the anomaly on that, but in my twenties I was moving around the country with the career I had at the time, so that may explain that.

  2. Absolutely I agree- I have wondered about this very thing and experienced it. My personal theories on why this happens is adaptation and desensitization to socially recharging. When we’re younger, everything is new, exciting, and a breath of fresh air. We get energized by being around others (as extroverts) because we gain something, make new friends, or “expand.” As we age, we’ve discovered the limits of what we like, dislike, whom we like, don’t like, and generally have amassed a wealth of knowledge that is more than suitable for us to succeed within the confines of the environment we’ve chosen….so the “external” stuff EN MASSE becomes dissonance and noise that actually wears down our attention to what we care about them most- our own thoughts and perceptions and experiences…

    I find I can easily engage in conversation and be recharged by others still, but very selectively and only when they are truly interesting, intelligent, or have something of value to say. Otherwise, I find my own musings and thoughts entertaining enough. 🙂

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