Extraversion: The Price of Now

What Is Extraversion?

Extraversion breaks down into the following two fundamental aspects: assertiveness and enthusiasm. 

Those high in assertiveness are the take-charge types. The so-called natural-born leaders. The game-changing alphas. (A valuable trait for a pilot, I might add.)

Those high in enthusiasm are talkative and charismatic. They’re the life of the party. The ones who make friends with enviable ease. (Don’t you just love to hate them?)

What drives extroversion is one’s propensity toward feeling positive emotions. In that sense it’s great to be an extrovert. It feels good to feel good.

And it does feel good to take charge. It does feel good to be enthusiastic about stuff. It does feel good to have lots of friends and sex. (So I’m told.)

I am not extroverted by nature, but I try my utmost to wear that hat when I enter the cockpit of an aeroplane. That feeling when you take the autopilot out and really back yourself. There’s nothing like it. (If only I backed myself!)

For the same reason, I try to be more extroverted when I sit down to write. I like to think of AP2 as my alter ego. He pushes the envelope of who it is I think I am.

But there are costs to extraversion.

How Much Should We Value the Present?

Perhaps the biggest danger comes from placing too much emphasis on the present. Sacrificing the future for the sake of a good time. 

Researchers tested this by offering participants a small sum of money now or a larger one later. They found a clear correlation between extraverts placing a higher value on the present.

And this is a good question to ask: how much should we value the present? After all, we may get hit by a bus tomorrow. Or we might live till we’re 101. We simply don’t know.

At any rate, this is an excellent way to think about those who score high in extraversion: Capitalising on the present moment to the maximum extent possible, even if that means sacrificing the future.

To give you an example, I have a friend (Who’d have guessed it!) who is very extraverted. He is well-liked and has many friends as a result. But he is fairly impulsive.

He lost his job once. To clear his head he decided to go on a skiing holiday. Fair enough, you say, but then he went on another skiing holiday just a few weeks later!

Ok, you say, so maybe he can afford it? Perhaps he has a plan? Maybe he has saved well for such an event? (He hadn’t.) So you give him the benefit of the doubt.

But then – I kid you not – as soon as he got back he jumped on another aeroplane and went on another skiing holiday! Of course, it was ski season, and he had many “friends” egging him on.

So he went on three separate skiing holidays within two months of losing his job. Naturally, he rinsed through his savings which put him in a spot of bother.

This is why it pays to be mindful of your nature. Extroversion may feel good, but there are times when one should reign it in. Sometimes you should feel bad.

The optimal state of being is not to feel good all the time but to feel appropriately good or bad given your current circumstances. 

If you feel good all the time, you’re more likely to take risks that you shouldn’t. (There’s a reason you’re given free alcohol at casinos.)

This is something those who suffer from manic episodes do. They feel invincible and go on spending sprees only to wake up the next day with a psychological hang-over realising they’ve spent every dim they had.

You think, “Hey, things are awesome right now, let’s place everything on black!” or, “Things aren’t so bad – one more skiing holiday won’t hurt…”

Evidence has shown that extraverts are more likely to struggle with addiction too. All those jokes about alcoholic pilots. Well, there is some truth to it…

Is Better To Be Introverted or Extroverted?

Now, the lines are blurred, but higher neuroticism correlates more strongly with introversion, which makes sense.

What’s important to stress is that lower neuroticism correlates most heavily with greater subjective well-being, not extraversion. There’s an essential difference between not being happy and feeling bad. 

Most of us are motivated by the avoidance of sufferingnot the pursuit of happinessIt’s just that extraversion is more “positively related to brain processes that associate contexts with reward.”

What I’m trying to say is that introverts are wired differently. So the things that make an introvert content and the strengths they bring to the table are different.

A good question to ask yourself is this: should I try to be more extroverted, or should I play to my introverted strengths?

Of course, it depends.

Introverts are more reserved by nature. They aren’t particularly excitable. They like to wait till all the cards have been dealt before placing any bets. They tend to be better listeners, more thoughtful, and more observant.

They get a lot more from spending time in nature and partaking in reflective activities. They love to sit quietly and read a good book with a nice warm cuppa joe. They value close intimate relationships as opposed to having lots of them.

Working by their lonesome doesn’t bother them so much. On the other hand, they might find a job that requires working with lots of people exhausting. An introvert probably shouldn’t marry an extrovert either. (Just imagine the horror!)

I would also argue that introverts should consciously work on their social skills. They should say yes to drinks on a Friday night every now and then. They should try striking up a conversation with a stranger. They should put their hand up and lend their thoughts.

People actually talk more when they’re happy. Like many things, it works in reverse. Opening up and talking to others will make you happier. It will increase confidence and decrease anxiety.

At the end of the day, we are social creatures living in a social world. This is where extroverts win big. Some of the best human rewards are social in nature.

As the saying goes, it’s not what you know, but who.

This is the major downside to being introverted: missed connections. Constantly putting off a good time for the sake of the future.

But the future isn’t a given. Sometimes a bird in the hand really is worth more than two in the bush.

Just ask my friend, he’ll tell you about this crazy time when he went on three skiing holidays within two months of losing his job.

You really can’t fault the guy for living… can you?

***

You can find more of AP2’s writing here at: https://pointlessoverthinking.com

You can also find him on Medium at: https://anxiouspilot2.medium.com

Or on Twitter at: @AnxiousPilot or @PointlessOverT

You can also email him directly at: anxiouspilot2@gmail.com

21 thoughts on “Extraversion: The Price of Now

  • I can be enthusiastic and assertive, but I think what’s been most helpful to me in accepting my own introversion is that I need my alone time to recharge, otherwise I don’t have the energy for the enthusiasm or assertiveness to come out to play.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think all of us are ambiverts in reality – even the most extroverted people need some alone time. It’s more a matter of calibration. How much socialising does one feel the need to have. How much time alone. I title towards introversion but I still enjoy going out and being with other people. I’m not phased by big groups but prefer having a deep intimate conversation with a select few. Understanding what we need in order to operate optimally is what matters most. Thank you Ashley. I appreciate your thoughts 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thought provoking post here AP2! I’m definitely social and talkative (but not a loud person) But (and getting older) I do like my own company and the introvert in me enjoys that time Immensely. I can think clearer, absorb the present moment and being with my family.  Suppose it’s about finding that right balance and discovering who you really are!! So would that make me an ambivert? Maybe the Libra in me likes that balance. I like the way you said wearing different hats: that’s relatable – more so back in my people pleasing days. Thanks for sharing this AP2 and keep going with your writing/thoughts 😊  🙏❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think most of us are ambiverts. Very few of fit neatly into the box of extravert or introvert. Even the most extroverted need some quiet time every now and then. Indeed a highly introverted needs some social interaction. I’d say the lines get further blurred when you break extroversion into its two aspects. A quiet person may be assertive. A sociable outgoing person might not be. At any rate, understanding what is best for us is different for everyone. It is key for finding that elusive balance. Thank you Bernie. Its great to hear from you. Wishing you all the best 🙂🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • I like this post, but I feel like it assumes that extroverts are spontaneous, and I don’t think that is necessarily true. I am a spontaneous extrovert and I do struggle with appreciating the now. But my sibling is a planner extrovert – said sibling isn’t struggling with being in the present because they’ve made plans and know they will get their socializing fix.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t mean to make assumptions – I’ve generalised the two camps – extraversion and introversion – in order to highlight the potential pitfalls depending on which side of spectrum you tilt towards. But I believe you’re right – the lines are most definitely blurred. Even the two traits that extraversion break down into – Its possible to be quiet but assertive or outgoing and unassertive. Most of us exhibit both extraversion and introversion tendencies to varying degrees. Sounds like your sibling is very conscientious. That’s another thing. Different character traits can heavily influences on others. You might be extroverted by nature but inhibited because of higher than average neuroticism. Thank you for bringing up a good point 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Very thought provoking as always, AP.

    It would very nice to have that fearlessness to go on an impulse series of trips without a worry. But I know I’d worry about the implications especially with a kid to feed.

    I think as always it’s all about finding a balance, that sweet spot in the middle, and the best of both extroverted and introverted world. Each side could learn a little bit from each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Ab – sorry I haven’t been round to your blog in a while. I’ve been uber busy/slack. I’m glad it gave you some pause for thought. I don’t think that level of fearlessness is necessarily a good thing. Your worrying serves a necessary purpose. But that balance is key. We can definitely take that worrying too far. It’s good to imagine a different version of ourselves and act accordingly when we get in the habit of worrying too much (or too little). Take care Ab – I’ll pop by soon! 🙂🙏

      Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you – I think that all of us are ambiverts to some degree. Even the most extraverted person needs some alone time. Even the most introverted person needs some social contact. Understanding exactly how much each of us need/should have is key while remaining cognisant of the dangers that being too high or low on the spectrum poses. Thank you for taking the time to read/lend your thoughts 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks for sharing these insights, they help me understand what makes extroverts tick, and I love learning those things! I’m much less introverted than I used to be, having forced myself to get out of my shell and learn to feel comfortable with being more sociable. I still get overwhelmed with too much stimulation so retreating off by myself to recharge is necessary, vs. how an extrovert recharges by being around people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very true – social activities can really drain introverts whereas they often have an energising effect on extraverts. That’s worth keeping in mind on both sides of the camp. I think it’s a healthy thing to force ourselves outside of our shells within reason. I believe this actually makes us more comfortable in our own skin over time. Thank you Tamara 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

      • Right?! That’s exactly what I did, because I didn’t wish to live the life of an extremely introverted person. This ability we have to modify our natural disposition is encouraging for all of us!

        Like

  • Hello AP2! I took the test!! Here are my results (hopefully I took the right one):

    Neuroticism – 52
    Extraversion – 91
    Openness to Experience – 98
    Agreeableness – 104
    Conscientiousness – 83

    Can’t wait to read your next blogs!

    Like

  • Great post AP. I just had a conversation with a friend about this. I always classified myself as a social introvert. But ambivert is a great term. I think time plays a role as well. Hopefully we gain wisdom over the years. Maybe your friend learned something from his bank account draining trips. Maybe we don’t need as many connections as we did when we were raising kids and navigating careers. Maybe classifying is helpful for understanding ourselves but what was true yesterday may be morphing into something else today. Anyway, great thoughts. Enjoyed the read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most of us become more introverted with age. Classifying is useful for understanding who we are but you have to be careful. They can become self limiting. I think it’s useful to think of yourself as an ambivert – capable of being either when required. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Kathy. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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