In a family of introverts, Kara certainly stands out.
Walk into any large gathering of people and you can usually tell the extroverts from the introverts immediately. The introverts are most often found on the periphery of the room, either on their own or quietly engaged in either awkward or intense one-to-one conversations. The extroverts are more likely to be in a gaggle in the middle of the room, where the most noise and energy is.
Okay, that’s a sweeping generalisation. But it’s true more often that not.
Similarly, in a work or problem-solving environment, the extroverts are the ones who will tend to get a bunch of people in a room to talk through an issue. Conversely, an introvert is more likely to prefer time alone to think through a considered solution before presenting it to the group.
Again, a generalisation: extroverts talk to get their thinking process fired up, while introverts think before they’re willing to talk.
Let’s be absolutely clear about this. There’s no right or wrong way to tackle a situation; no better or worse. Extroverts get frustrated at introverts because they feel they’re slow to get involved or secretive. Introverts wish extroverts would wait and let them contribute when they’ve had a chance to devise a viable solution.
One final generalisation: extroverts fire first and use that to calibrate their aim, while introverts take careful aim before gently squeezing the trigger.
Some of us are able to swap easily between both modes; some are anchored at one extreme of the spectrum.
I’m an introvert, strongly so. Toby is the same. Put me on the spot and I will scurry off to the side to collect my thoughts.
Heather and Isaac are more balanced, but if you were to draw a line down the middle they would both be slightly on the introverted side of it.
Again, there is no ‘best’ place to be on that spectrum. Introversion and extroversion indicate someone’s personal preferences but they do not measure how capable they are. You can be an extreme introvert, an extreme extrovert or a combination of the two. It doesn’t matter.
Having said all that, Kara is very much an extrovert. She’s talkative, confident and gregarious in nature. Her instinctive position in any social situation is to be the centre of attention. She is in so many ways my polar opposite. I love her for being all these things – even if I do constantly wonder where she gets it from.
As an introvert, I do sometimes find the relentless barrage of energy and chatter tiring. There are times when I just need five minutes to get away and recharge my batteries in peace. But I wouldn’t change her for the world. It’s the differences that make her special and unique in our family. They are what make her Kara.
Being different is good. It’s a complementary thing. Opposites attract and all that. Kara brings out different sides of me that would otherwise remain hidden. Hopefully it works both ways and I bring out some new facets to her too.
As I have written recently, putting labels on people doesn’t and shouldn’t limit who they are. Labels are just that: convenient, arbitrary definitions that help explain the differences between one person and the next. ‘Extrovert’ doesn’t define Kara any more than ‘introvert’ defines me. And ultimately the differences are unimportant. Whether she craves the limelight or the shadows, she will always be the centre of my attention.