I saw a beautiful illustration the other day. It was two human forms drawn side-by-side, one labeled “Introvert” and one “Extrovert.” The Introvert was filled with flowers and hearts and rainbows—all sorts of lovely things—all drawn within the lines of the form. The Extrovert was empty on the inside, but just along the perimeter, on the surface of the skin, lived the flowers and hearts and rainbows and all sorts of lovely things.
In theory, I understand the point of the image; but it really bothered me. Firstly, I have a lot of extroverted friends. In fact, I’m married to a true extrovert, someone who derives energy from other people. He literally basks in my presence, not just because he loves me, but because to be near me energizes him. He can navigate any place, anywhere, because the constant stimulation drives him. It brings him to life. All of these outside flowers and hearts and rainbows fulfill him, but they do not leave him empty—they fill him up.
And I, the introvert, felt misrepresented, too. Sure, I’d like to think I’m all full of flowers and hearts and rainbows. I know that my energy comes from within. Sometimes I have to retreat inside, to touch base with myself and the lovely things. But how do those lovely things come in? I can assure you, they’re not born of myself, but of all the flowers and hearts and rainbows I’m privileged to see in the world, in the people that I love; I love them so much, I’ve made them a part of me.
Plus, one can only be so full, even when it’s of lovely things. I like to take all those pieces and move them around. I make mental floral arrangements, if you will. Then what? I can only stock up on vases full of flowers of thoughts for so long—they have a mortality rate! They’re flowers, after all! And how much mental counter space can a person reasonably adorn?
An introvert cannot keep the flowers and hearts and rainbows inside. They have to come out eventually. It’s an introvert explosion. And I’d like to think it feeds the extrovert. This person who needs to be stimulated and energized by another person, is filling up on what I produce, from their lovely things that I took in, was nurtured by, and rearranged.
When you think about it, the illustration should look more like a cycle of flowers and hearts and rainbows moving through us all, and I think that’s a really lovely life cycle of energy and creativity, don’t you?