Extroverted Adventure for an Introverted Mind

Some days, all I want to do is watch MST3K, eat cookies, and look at pictures of pretty British men.

Other days, my brain goes a million miles an hour, I can’t stop coming up with ideas to (over)analyze, and I want to have serious intellectual discussions until my voice gives out.

Today is one of the latter. This is when I am thankful to have intelligent friends who can prompt and participate in such discussions. I’m also glad I have a blog where I can get additional feedback.

This week, my friend Melissa sent me a fascinating series of questions about my upcoming travel adventures and how they relate to my INTJ personality, and introversion in general. She wrote,

I always linked my home-body tendencies to my introversion personality. It was surprising to me to read you were embarking on this homeless adventure! (I do also wonder if my home-body tendencies could just be a result of moving around A TON throughout my childhood.) Anyway, my biggest dislike about college was feeling like I didn’t have a home -the dorm/apartment? my parent’s house? my car? Where did I belong?! It made me very uncomfortable in the same way I feel uncomfortable socially because of being an introvert. So I connected the two. Anyway, I’m curious about your thoughts on this. … [And] if you’re visiting friends and staying with them, where will you introvert? (Yes, I just used introvert as a verb, not sure if that’s right, but whatever.) Do you not have a strong home-body tendency?…

As an introvert who needed time to process this, of course I thought about it, and thought about it, developed some ideas, reached some tentative conclusions, and wrote back.

When it comes to my specific type as an INTJ, I’m not sure if this whole road-trip idea is related. It might be. I wrote months ago about being naturally dissatisfied and unsettled, and that may be because of the tendency of INTJs to be hyper-critical and difficult to please. That trait may emerge in me as wanderlust. It may be because many INTJs are action-driven, wanting to implement their ideas, and my get-up-and-go could come from that. Much of my trip itinerary is coming from thoughts like, “I’ve always wanted to see this particular landmark…might as well do it!”

But like everyone in the general population, each INTJ is different.

(…every INTJ is great. If an INTJ is wasted, God gets quite irate.)

My dad is also an INTJ, and he tends to alternate between extensive travel and long periods at home, and I have followed that pattern at times. I have INTJ friends who have studied abroad and lived fairly uprooted lives. I have other INTJ friends who are very much homebodies who do not travel frequently or far. I have some INTJ friends who are risk-takers in areas I would never dare to tread, and others who find my own adventurous decisions remarkable.

At this point, I am convinced that a person’s Myers-Briggs type is not so much about their outward behavior, but about how they process information and view the world. Yes, the two may be related, but one does not necessarily predict the other.

While my road-trip adventuring may be related in part to my INTJ type, it also might be because my parents took me on a lot of trips when I was young, so I had a love of travel instilled in me from an early age. I also moved a lot starting in later childhood, and of course in college, going back and forth from dorms to home, and then moving to different cities after graduation. While Melissa had a similar experience, she reacted by going in the opposite direction, seeking stability, while I internalized it and developed a craving for change. I always think I want to be rooted somewhere, only to grow bored within a year and look for something else.

Neither reaction is right or wrong, better or worse, just an example of how two different people adapt to similar circumstances.

. . .

As to whether being a homebody is related to introversion, I’m not yet sure which conclusion I favor. Either

1. being a homebody or having wanderlust is not related to introversion/extroversion, but is dependent on other factors, such moving a lot as a child, or

2. being a homebody IS an introverted trait, but shows up in different degrees.

Just as no INTJs are exactly alike, no two introverts or extroverts are alike, either. Not every introvert likes to read; not every extrovert likes to go clubbing.

Intro/extroversion tends to fall on a scale, meaning that all introverts have a little bit of extroversion in them, and vice-versa. No one is 100% of either. Not to mention, different situations bring out different traits. I generally lean more extreme on the introvert scale, but I think that has changed a little with age. And I do have some traits that you might not expect of the typical introvert.

One of my closest friends is an extrovert who frequently enjoys solitary mountain hikes. This may be how her introversion, however small, manifests itself. I am a “typical” introvert in that like to be alone, I enjoy reading, I dislike small talk and loud, crowded environments. But I like to travel and not stay in one place for a while. This may be how my small bit of extroversion “comes out.”

Pictured: Not always me

I do look forward to periods of stability after I experience some kind of upheaval, but I get bored faster than I expect. Perhaps it is the introverted part of me that craves that stability and leans toward being a homebody, but other parts of my personality quickly overtake it.

As for fulfilling my other introverted needs on the road, I don’t think the traveling will be too challenging. Yes, I will need alone time, especially after days or weeks of staying with friends, but I can go without it better when I can see it coming over the horizon. I’ll be spending a lot of time in the car by myself, sightseeing alone, or staying in hotels on my own, so finding time to recharge my social batteries shouldn’t be an issue. A bigger challenge may be when I visit friends and my hosts get sick of me!

Here is where I open up discussion to readers, be they regular or passers-by (Googles-by?):

Are you a homebody? A nomadic type? Do you travel a lot? Do you go back and forth? Does it change based on your particular life phase, season, or stage?

Is this related to your personality type, or your introversion/extroversion, do you think?

I want to hear your thoughts!


. . .

5 thoughts on “Extroverted Adventure for an Introverted Mind

  1. Definitely, a homebody. I can happily stay home and be quite busy creatively and internally. After my recent two week holiday in Tokyo I went no where for almost a week. It took that long to rest and process the trip. During the trip my husband and I took a day where we didn’t visit with friends and just relaxed. Quiet meals, a little bit of reading and journaling and
    a nap. Not the norm for Tokyo!
    Social media has changed things for me. In that while I’m home I do chat and interact with friends. Some of who I’ve never actually met in the physical.
    I’m a very definite INFJ. And quite comfortable with it.

  2. I’m definitely a homebody. I’m INFJ (or ISFJ, depending on which test I take). I do kind of associate my homebody-ness to my introversion – I don’t like huge crowds of people; I’d rather stay home and watch TV. Even when I’m with someone else, I’m more comfortable in a home setting (mine or theirs) it seems. I don’t know that introversion necessarily means someone will be a homebody; people have different tastes and such.

  3. ISFJ here — and I am definitely a homebody. I get really irritated at the idea of having to end up in a new place, mostly because I get extremely attached to places and things. However, I actually love living new places and traveling, once I get over the “I have to experience change/leave something behind” bit. My favorite way to see new places, though, is to be in the new place for a good chunk of time. My favorite vacations are those ones where I stay at the same place for a couple of weeks (at least) and my favorite way to see new cities or countries is to live in them for a while. Not the most practical, but it takes me a really long time to adjust to new things to the point where I can feel like I’m getting the most out of them or really taking them in. Thanks for the thinking points, Em (and also Melissa!)

  4. I’m an INTJ and I love adventure, travel, and movement. I like to drive or walk and think in new (and old) locations…for hours! Music helps too. In addition to the fact that we all lie on a spectrum, I believe these personality types are rough models (though having these models helps tremendously!) and depend on too many unknown variables to be well understood at this point.
    I’m really happy to have discovered your excellent blog here! Just getting started reading your posts.

    1. Thank you! I hear you—few things make me happier than a long walk or a long drive with my favorite tunes.

      I agree on personality types being “rough models,” and not everyone easily fits them–or at all. For me, it’s been exceedingly helpful in understanding my behavior and how I think. Even when I don’t fit the model of an INTJ, in many cases I’ve been able to pinpoint why. And I love finding out how people with the same personality types are different, and how people with different personality types are similar (in different ways).

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