Introvert, Extrovert, or In Between – Which are You?

In January, a local magazine article will feature my family and my daughter hates it.

The Advocate interviewed us for a series it’s doing on the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) and my eight-year-old daughter did not want to go to the photo shoot.  When I asked her why, she said the words that no retired entertainer ever wants to hear from his kin’s monologue-hole:

“Because I don’t want to be famous.”

Wha?  I was floored.

Before retirement, I spent almost half of my life trying to make a name for myself with standup, radio, and improv.  I wanted nothing more than to be celebrated, to be interrupted for autographs and selfies while dining or to be recognized in a city to which I’ve never been.  Yet here’s my daughter, my very own flesh and blood, telling me she has no desire to seek fame or public attention.  It’s not easy for me to say this, but here it goes.

My daughter’s an introvert.

Of course, my wife and I have had our suspicions about this.  Ever since my sweet baby girl was old enough to cover her face with her elbow like a little vampire whenever strangers approached, we’ve suspected she might not particularly enjoy the attention of outsiders.  When she stayed silent on speakerphone calls and unsmiling onstage at school honors ceremonies, we knew that raising the next American Idol might be out of our jurisdiction.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

In a world full of TV blowhards and internet celebrities, it’s refreshing that someone I know has no interest in getting this kind of attention.  Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is no wallflower and at her school, she’s actually quite popular and considered humorous, but unlike me, she has no interest in taking this to the next level.

Thus, her photo shoot reluctance.

When I asked her more about this, she told me that she didn’t want her classmates to see her picture in the Advocate magazine and give her attention over it.  That’s what being famous means to her.  She is uncomfortable with the thought of handling even that low a level of popular notice.  Funny, I was so different at her age.  I was more inclined to live by what Oscar Wilde used to say, which is the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Only now I’m not so sure I’m the total extrovert I always thought I was.

After taking the easy Introvert/Extrovert test at the Psychology site VeryWell, it turns out my daughter and I have a lot more in common than I thought.  (Link to Online Test)  My results indicated I’m an ambivert, a person having both extrovert and introvert characteristics, which makes sense, since I’m also physically ambidextrous.  It also makes sense because even though there are times when I can be the life of the party, on stage and in person, not long afterwards I’ve always had to spend some quiet time alone.  Now my need for a drink to loosen up before show time makes a lot more sense.

Mike Meyers, the famous comedian and actor, is also an ambivert.

On an Inside the Actors Studio episode (Link to Video), host James Lipton tells Robin Williams that Mike Meyers describes himself as a “site-specific extravert and an introvert for most of the rest of the time” and asks if there’s an introverted Robin Williams.

Robin says yes.

He uses the introversion to “absorb” things around him for his comedy. He calls himself “introverted, quiet, and absorbent.”  His frantic character on stage was him being a site-specific extravert, but that wasn’t who he was the rest of the time.

Knowing the key differences between introverts and extroverts is incredibly helpful to parents, bosses, or any other leader who works with people.  A chart from the site OfficeVibe lists many of these dissimilarities and demonstrates how opposite the two types of personalities handle such life skills as focus, recharging, and change.  (Link to Chart)

Which do you favor?

When the Advocate article comes out next month, I’m truly hoping none of my daughter’s classmates sees it.  There’s a hundred percent chance that none of these second graders actually reads the magazine, but when the principal, teachers, and parents of the school see the positive piece we did they’ll probably want to say something to her about it.

Then hopefully she’ll dust off her little vampire elbow and handle her fame like the confident introvert we’re raising her to be.

I can’t tell you how happy she makes me.

  • Mike Lukas


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