In a cosmetic and media driven society, it is understandable why attempting to be extroverted is reasonable. After all, the constant bombardment to be more attractive, alluring, and outspoken sounds ideal.
Whether you’re speaking your mind or you’re living out loud without filters, there is no social campaign saying “Less is more.”
However, are such notions ideal for introverts?
There is a school of thought that suggests that when populations of people are going in one direction, it is best to go in the opposite direction. While the masses may mean well, progressive and enlightened knowledge has traditionally been held by a privileged few.
Introverts who pretend to be extroverts, not only disempower themselves, but allow the most potent power they possess to escape them which is the ability to focus internal energy for purposeful outcomes.
Does extroversion lend itself to the allure that it promises?
Lyon (n.d.) said: “People with high extroversion may struggle with keeping their emotions in check. At times, they can come across as aggressive or abrasive, but are also intent on pleasing people. This can lead to easily swayed opinions and unfinished projects“(para. 8).
Lyon goes on to list several negatives for extroverts including:
- Often unable to make analytical, emotionless judgements
- May lack independence and gumption
- May value too highly the validation of others
- Tendency to get lonely
- May not have the best judgment
Also, Regoli (2016) said: “Extroverts also tend to think that they are friendly or fun in the eyes of other people, but this is not always a positive thing. In fact, things would not go as well as you might expect if you are one who does not think things all the way through before doing them.
Bad stuff and consequences can definitely happen to you”(para. 7).
Additionally, Fiorentini (2016) stated that: “Many extroverts prefer talking to someone for support when faced with hardships, whereas many introverts may choose to handle their problems on their own.
The issue with the extrovert approach is that there may not always be someone available to help, meaning sometimes it is necessary to deal with problems internally. This is often seen as a challenge for extroverts because of our reliance on others”(para. 5).
Introverts may think that it is sunnier on the extroverted side of life, but the previous commentators suggest that there may be rain clouds on the horizon. For example, in Lyon’s listing, extroverts may have a tendency to get lonely when they aren’t socially stimulated.
Interesting enough, the social component of extroversion has always been one of the factors that make this personality type attractive. Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, is the gospel for many extroverts.
The World is a Stage
In the past, I have been guilty of masquerading as an extrovert. In my youth, I was reared around colorful figures who used charisma and extroversion to gain respect, honor, and pride. My introversion felt like an impediment and often was used as a tool against me.
As a result, I reinvented myself, and became a motivational speaker, author, nonprofit board member, and a pseudo-socialite. Living an active social life was not painful. In fact, it was quite enjoyable.
However, the success that I pursued was elusive despite my being in these social circles. In retrospect, I probably was seen as an impostor. An overly ambitious young man willing to do anything for professional and financial gain. To some degree I was a pretender. I used what I had to get by.
And I was willing to work, and to do the heavy lifting for decision makers as a means of getting ahead. I understood the premise that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. At least I knew it intellectually, and thought I was keeping my true intentions for success a secret.
Unbeknownst to me, I had been found out. If you wanted to get anything from me without compensation, make me the center of attention.
Years later, I discovered that power had been elusive because I was hoping that these inner circles would let me in, and I could thrive from within them. I had not considered that real power is self-created.
And as the statesman Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them…”
I also realized that being overly agreeable leads to self-betrayal. And if you do it long enough, you abdicate all of your personal power.
The Laws of Thermodynamics
The Laws of Thermodynamics describe what happens when introverts expend energy outwardly as a way of attracting or gaining acceptance as opposed to directing energy inwardly to create self-contained power.
Farabee (2001) outlined The First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that “In all energy exchanges, if no energy enters or leaves the system, the potential energy of the state will always be less than that of the initial state” (para. 3).
Under these laws, potential energy is unused energy that transfers into kinetic energy once it is used. Once kinetic energy is used, it must be replenished.
Juxtaposing these laws with introversion. Introverts have potential energy that is unused until it is expended by some activity.
In the case of pretending to be extroverted, introverts burn energy that is contrary to their hardwiring. The pursuit of social power is at the cost of energy that still may not achieve the expected outcome. Introverts have the choice to gamble their energy in hopes that power will be bestowed upon them.
Or focus their energy in developing opportunities, intellectual property, and technology that furthers their self-interests.
Introverts would be better served by using their energy to build structures that quietly influence society, which will lead them to the power, control, and independence that they are actually seeking.
In my younger years, if I had of known how the Laws of Thermodynamics work for professional and financial independence, I would have invested more time consolidating my energy for personal power over temporary and fleeting masquerading.
The notion of “Fake it until you make it” is best left to charlatans who lack the will and discipline to do extraordinary work.
If energy has to be expended, let it be in ways that reap the greatest rewards and benefits for self-actualization.
The pursuit of goals is better served when your intellectual foundation is based on immutable laws, as well as the core of your personality. The less you pretend, the more you achieve.
—Edward S. Brown, M.S.
Douglass, Frederick (n.d.). Goodreads. Retrieved from: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/951719-power-concedes-nothing-without-a-demand-it-never-did-and.
Farabee, M.J. (2001). Laws of Thermodynamics. Estrella Mountain. Retrieved from: https://www2.estrellamountain.edu/faculty/farabee/biobk/BioBookEner1.html.
Fiorentini, M. (2016, Apr. 4). The pros and cons of being an extrovert. Odyssey. Retrieved from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/pros-cons-extrovert.
Lyon, N. (n.d.). The pros and cons of extroversion in the workplace. Journeyfront. Retrieved from: https://www.journeyfront.com/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-extroversion-in-the-workplace.
Regoli, N. (2016, Aug. 17). 6 advantages and disadvantages of being an extrovert. Connect Us. Retrieved from: https://connectusfund.org/6-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-being-an-extrovert.