Volume 1, Issue 5, 9/13/07
Extroverting at the Fair
A couple weeks ago I spent six hours in front of a roasted corn
stand at the Minnesota State Fair. I was a recycling volunteer.
My job was to encourage the corn eaters to put their cobs in the
compost bin rather than the garbage.
This stand sells an average of 10,000 ears of corn every day
during the fair - I'd signed myself up for a day of
For introverts, extroverting is about energy. I think of the
word as a way to describe introverts doing things that are more
natural to extroverts. It can include lots of different
activities - standing for hours in the middle of a stream of
people on their way to buy corn on the cob certainly qualifies,
and especially if you're trying to talk to them!
Energy is a key issue for introverts. We get ours from inside,
from the world of our ideas, feelings, impressions. And we need
a low stimulation environment - some form of "peace and quiet"
- to get recharged. We live in a world that's populated mainly
by extroverts (75%), who get energized by the outside world -
activities, people, places, things. For an extrovert, standing
in a crowd talking to people about their corn cobs is a way to
get energy. For an introvert, it's spending energy.
The world tends to operate extrovert-style and we don't talk
much about being introverts or extroverts. So you may never
have even heard, much less considered, this word, "extroverting".
It's not that introverts don't have the "equipment" for
extroverting - our bodies are just less naturally inclined.
Some extroverting is unavoidable in today's world - a long
airplane trip, for instance. Some of us work in environments
that require almost continuous extroverting.
And having good extroverting skills is part of what I consider being
a "conscious introvert" - it gives us more choice, more freedom of
movement in the world.
But we can't afford to be energy spenders in the same way
extroverts can. Extroverts naturally get energy from interacting
with people, places, things - it's easier to stay replenished
just by being in the world.
Research on introverts and extroverts is demonstrating that it
takes more time for introverts to restore our energy and it flows
out faster than for extroverts. And we can't get replenished in
the middle of the state fair!
So introverts do better when we keep track of our energy - and
do energy conservation! It's been years since I spent a day at
the state fair. Before I knew about "introvert energy
conservation", I'd go every year and loved being there, even
though it was over-stimulating. But the next day (or maybe two!)
I'd feel like I'd been run over by a truck, so I finally stopped
This year I knew I wanted to go as soon as I got the invitation
to be a compost volunteer. It was a chance to do something I
feel strongly about. A chance to support the work of one of my
good friends - and a chance to spend the day with another of my
good friends. Very worth it.
I could easily have overdone it: when I went off duty, even
though my energy was gone I was tempted to take a side trip into
the Butterfly House :-). But I went home instead, to take care
of my tired introvert self, very happy that I'd gone and very
happy to be home.
End of food for thought - on to practical ideas:
Two Practical Ideas for Introverts
- If your life currently requires a lot of extroverting and you
don't get enough "down-time", choose one day to deliberately
do things differently and find some ways to pamper your
- Practice "introvert energy conservation" with an upcoming
extroverting event: plan to have down-time both before and
after it - and do it!
A Practical Idea for Extroverts
Show off your sophisticated understanding of introverts (I'm
not kidding!) by explaining to an introvert in your life that
you're aware of the difference between introvert and extrovert
energy and ask how they like to get down time.