"Introverts feel 'just right' with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book. Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo."
I've never thought about introversion in terms of stimulus before. I usually think about it mostly in terms of social interactions. But Susan talks about how introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling while extroverts are drawn to the external life of people and activities. "Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them." And her inclusion of skiing made me pause.
Actually, I skied a few times when I was younger and quite enjoyed the rush. But when I went skydiving, I didn't feel the same way at all. I went with my friend John about 12 years ago. John is a total extrovert, able to engage anybody in conversation, and his skydiving experience was absolutely thrilling. Mine was ... fascinating.
People think that when you jump out of the plane, you get a rush, like on a roller coaster. But that's not true. Because you're already moving at the same speed as the plane that you're on. So when you jump, your trajectory changes, but not so much your velocity. At least not enough to feel your stomach doing backflips. At least not for me. Instead, I found myself in an odd situation. I'm up in the sky. Falling. The wind rushing past me and blowing my hair back. The earth way down below. Huh. Interesting. Not scary. No rush. Just sitting up here in the sky. Okay. So this is skydiving. It's kinda cool. It's a nice view. Cool.
I can see now that my introversion gave me a completely different experience than John. When we got to the ground, he was whooping and hollering and patting me on the back, and I almost felt bad that I wasn't sharing the same feelings.
Which brings me to another John experience. His son has seizures pretty frequently. The first time I saw him have a seizure was at a park. John quickly rushed over to hold his boy, so there wasn't really anything for me to do. And afterwards, as John will laughingly tell you, my first comment was that it was fascinating.
With both the skydiving and the seizure, my brain instinctively chooses to stop and process the information. To think about it and try to find meaning, rather than react in an outward fashion. Which can leave me feeling detached and make me appear aloof to others.
Which is not a bad thing. It's just how I work.