Douglas and I were listening to a gospel radio station, and the announcer stated that being an introvert or an extrovert was part of people’s natural personalities. While Douglas agreed, I told him that I believed it was the product of social conditioning.
What I meant was that sometimes the events in your life can cause you to choose isolation as a protective measure. Douglas says I am a natural introvert, someone who will not take risks, and that is a natural instinct.
But, for me, risk-taking and being a dare-devil, a Evel Knievel wannabe, are two different things. I reminded him that I had traveled alone to Madrid for eight days, Geneva for six days, including a gondola ride to the top of the French Alps, and Montreal for a week. Being a woman traveling alone meant taking risks, even in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
So, I am a risk-taker, but that has nothing to do with the fact that I am more comfortable most days alone in my house. I guess you would call me an introvert, although I do enjoy meeting new people and having fun. But I was always the child that other children teased and taunted. It was either my looks, my love of books, or my small size.
Also, being made to feel inferior to others left life-long feelings of being less than others that resulted in my choice to spend time alone. For example, the wealthier people in our neighborhood did not allow their children to play with us, as though poverty was contagious.
So, I learned that to be safe from the harassment of others and of people making you feel like dirt, it was safer to keep to oneself. I think had I been more accepted, I would be more of what is called an extrovert. I say this because I love to travel and see the culture and foods of other places.
Other than the stares that we generate as an interracial couple or just my being black, I don’t know which is the problem, I have a great time when we travel. I do not spend my time alone, as I do when at home. I go to museums and stay for hours, talking to people about the wonderful art.
I sit on the beach and get darker by the minutes, but I am among people, and it always feels great to be surrounded by others. I don’t feel that I need to protect myself from other people like I do when I am at home. It may be why I get restless when we have not traveled for a long time.
Douglas is an extrovert, in that he never meets a stranger, no matter where he is. But, he grew up in a wealthy family, not made fun of as a kid, and he is comfortable among every sort of person. He has no need to protect himself from possible hurts and taunts.
So, whether being an introvert or an extrovert is caused by nature (biology) or nurture (environment), is a mystery that may not be answerable. But, I believe that being a risk taker is a whole different element.
I will not go zip-lining in Peru or hot air ballooning in Arizona, mainly because at age 67, my bones will not heal as well as they would have at age 30. What I mean is that I am a risk taker, willing to travel and see the whole world, but I am not a fool! That doesn’t make me an introvert or an extrovert; that shows that I am wise!
What are your thoughts on the nature versus nurture argument on being an introvert or extrovert? Do you think your being one or the other is more a natural thing or caused by social interactions gone wrong? Are risk-takers more likely to be extroverts?
Ragtag prompt is Mystery.
I think it’s mostly genetic but can be influenced by environment. I don’t necessarily believe that there’s a link between extroversion and dare-devil tendencies, though if there are studies, I will bow to science. My anecdotal experience shows me that introverts, including myself, often take risks… we just don’t necessarily have to take them with a group of other people.
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Wonderfully stated. I agree. I wish you a wonderful new year filled with joy and love.
I think there’s a balance. I am extrovert according to these personality tests, but I feel profoundly aware of the tremendous cost of life – so I would not do anything that would put my life at risk or the lives of others. But within the realms of safety, I will try anything – no fear!
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