The terms introvert and extrovert are often misunderstood. Just because someone is bubbly and outgoing doesn’t necessarily mean they’re an extrovert, and just because someone is shy and quiet doesn’t automatically make them an introvert. The difference between introverts and extroverts has to do with how both types gain or loose energy. Introverts are drained by being around people for extended periods of time and need alone time to recharge. Extroverts thrive on interaction with others and tend to get drained if they have too much time to themselves. I believe that to some extent, these purrsonality types (I know. I just couldn’t resist!) apply to cats as well.
I used to be an off the scale introvert, but over time, I’ve moved a little closer to the center of the spectrum. Perhaps the change from working in an office to working from home has also changed how much people time and how much alone time I need. Since I’m no longer around people all day long, I find that I now enjoy seeking out the company of people in my non-working life. However, too much of a good thing sends me running to retreat to retreat so I can recharge my batteries.
My recent trip to Superzoo perfectly illustrated this conundrum for me. I loved connecting with friends, meeting new people, attending receptions and going out to lunch and dinner with groups of people. But I definitely needed the solitude of my hotel room at the end of each fun-filled day. Conversely, when I got back home after three days of more than my usual quota of “people time,” I almost felt a let down of sorts.
As with so many things in life, it comes down to balance, to paying attention to your own energy, and to knowing yourself. I know I need to have the right balance of “me time” and “people time” to be truly happy. Balancing “me time” and “we time” becomes more challenging when you’re in a relationship, but it’s equally important to figure out what your and your partner’s needs for each are, and to openly communicate those needs to each other.
Just like humans, cats can be introverts or extroverts. I have one of each. Ruby is a total extrovert. She thrives on being with me, and if she had her way, she’d be permanently glued to me. Allegra, on the other hand, seems to be more of an introvert. She tends to like her own space, and while she enjoys being in the same room with Ruby and me, she usually prefers to be near, rather than on top of me.
One thing I notice about both of them is that they don’t seem to have to spend a lot of time assessing their energy to figure out how much alone time or time with me they need. They just do whatever feels good in the moment. As usual, they have us humans beat when it comes to living a balanced life.
What about you? Are you introvert or extrovert? What about your cats?