Lani: I’m the Green One

Sprouting up around the Facebook information garden are a myriad of scientifically dubitable personality tests. Which Scandal character are you? (Olivia Pope.) Which classic literature heroine are you? (Jane Eyre.) Which of Khaleesi’s dragons are you? (Yeah, I made that up, but I think I’d be the green one. Is there a green one?)


Well… it’s green-ish, I guess.

So, there I was, innocently traipsing through my friend’s lunches and their kid’s prom outfits on Facebook when I came across two different links. One was, “Ha, ha, only introverts get what this is like! And btdubs, extroverts are assholes,” and the other was, “Ha! Extroverts! Woot! And btdubs, introverts are assholes,” and I read both articles and…

…they were both me.

But I was still not satisfied because, a) Buzzfeed and b) Gawker. I mean, I like Gawker, and Buzzfeed engages occasionally in real journalism, but they’re not exactly my go-to sources for reliable psychological analysis. So I donned my safety gear and went spelunking on the internet and found an introvert article from Psychology Today and an extrovert article from… okay, the best extrovert article I found was from and it shares page-space with “If the condom gets stuck inside of you, can you still get pregnant?” so take what you want from that. But finding reputable sources for stuff like this without going to a real library is hard, y’all.

Regardless, once again, I found myself in both lists. I jump right into leadership roles. I wear my headphones in public places. I’m fine with small talk and can chatter with pretty much anyone, but I prefer deep, meaningful conversations. I get uncomfortable in big, loud, social situations, but I can usually find my groove. I am drained after a day of teaching and being “on.” I’m re-energized by time alone. I don’t need people around me all the time, but I usually enjoy them when I have them. So what the hell am I?

I’m neither. And I’m both. According to Fast Company, whose logo I just freakin’ adore and because I’m a design geek I decided that’s relevant here, creative people are both introverted and extroverted. Except here’s the thing… Brené Brown says that everyone is creative, and I agree. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a non-creative person. Look… there isn’t even a word that means “non-creative” which is why I had to slap “non” onto “creative” in order to name the idea. So… really, what does it even mean? Is there a value to these tests and identifications, or is it just another way to label ourselves into our various boxes? Does it matter which of Khaleesi’s dragons I am, and at what point does it just become snotty to look down on the endless parade of “I’m Spongebob Squarepants; which Nickelodeon character are you?” posts on Facebook?

In the big picture, I think that it’s not the answers to the questions on the personality tests that define you so much as the questions it makes you ask, and answer, for yourself. I am both a taker of these ridiculous tests, a navel-gazer of the worst sort, and the superior intellectual snob who rolls her eyes when she sees them and thinks, “Honestly, who cares?”

I am large. I contain multitudes*.

And also, I am the green one.

*That’s right. I pulled out Whitman. You got a problem with that? Then you’re probably Poe.

25 thoughts on “Lani: I’m the Green One

  1. I’m with you on being an introvert and an extrovert. I describe myself as a sociable hermit. Perhaps for many creative pursuits you need to be both – solitary when you’re creating, but empathetic/connected in order to fuel your creativity??

    I hate anything that puts people in boxes. And I think the important thing is the story you tell yourself about yourself: so if the labels are helpful, fine; but I’m clear that there’s more to anyone than that. But science seems geared to trying to count and label things. It doesn’t like a mystery – and so, in my experience often misses the point.

  2. No, I think that fits all of us. Jenny is charming and friendly to people outside the house — probably even friendlier than me. She’s very introverted to, but she knows how to be on. Same with Lani, same with me. Jenny’s more introverted than Lani, but she’s absolutely write. We’re all so many things, many of them oppositional. No wonder I get stress.

  3. Andrea S says:

    I once told a boss that I was an introvert, and she was genuinely surprised. Because I’m good at being chatty and outgoing. And I’m a theatre kid so I let that influence my storytelling. But I have to balance that with being alone and being calm, which is why I identify introvert.

    I think the real value in those labels are in understanding yourself and others. Before I took the first test I didn’t really understand my introverted tendencies. I would be completely wiped after fun weekends hanging out with friends, and not understand why I was so tired. Or think I was strange for spending so much time by myself. But after a little bit of learning I’ve found that as an introvert, I recharge by being alone. So now I can plan to spend Monday evening after a busy weekend doing nothing. Or I can just know I’m going to be tired.

    Mostly those labels are much more of a spectrum than they seem. I know I am an introvert every time I take it. But a couple of them I tend to vary between based on how I’m feeling and also how I’m answering. Like I’m much more strict in the workplace, but if it was for my personal life I would answer some questions very differently. I really think it’s more of a surface level assessment than a deep personality indicator.

  4. Sure Thing says:

    I’m an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. As a child I had to learn how to be verbal and sometimes I don’t know when it’s inappropriately *too* verbal. Everybody knows me as someone who is friendly and talkative. Yes, I talk to unknown people in queues.

    So mine is situational.

  5. Jessie says:

    The true introverts I have known are not just people who need time alone but frequently are uncomfortable in large social situations. And may be even anxious in social situations that are more than one or two other people. While I am sometimes uncomfortable in social situations if there are very few people I know, I do okay in social situations that are not too structured. And I wonder if the true introvert (admittedly based on a very small sample) has a higher degree of social anxiety than most of us?

  6. Jessie says:

    Lani. Off topic. I have you to thank for the numerous hours I now spend on Duolingo. Before you told us about it I just wasted my time doing Sudoku. (Note: I could not decide if my phrasing should be “I have to thank you ….” )

  7. I love those tests. They amuse the crap out of me plus some of them are fairly easy to manipulate to get what I want. I agree with you on being more than just a label and as far as being an extrovert vs being an introvert the issue is that most people think an introvert is shy. Not true at all. I do many “extrovert” things because I am not shy and they exhaust me, but without them the well doesn’t get filled either. So, I am an introvert who needs people because if there were a Barbara Streisand song test, I’d be “People” After all what is being creative worth if you don’t need people? Yep, we’re the luckiest people in the world.

  8. Jill says:

    As I get older I become more of an introvert. Or maybe more of a hermit. I will plan things so I do not have to leave the house. I am uncomfortable in social situations with people I do not know. But at our grandson’s wedding 2 weeks ago I was extrovert to the max. People did not mess with me . 🙂

  9. Jill says:

    The picture reminded me for a second of Robin’s Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist books. Nathaniel with Greasle on his shoulder.

  10. LOL, yeah, I think we’re all just at different places on the spectrum. Jen’s more introverted than I am, but you’re right, when she’s around people, she’s a delight. But it takes all her energy, and afterward, she has to spend three days alone in order to re-energize. I have to do that after performing – and teaching is always a performance, so that’s exhausting for me. I think you’re more extroverted than I am. You love holding court. It’s interesting, though; I don’t think it’s quite so black and white.

  11. Glad you’re enjoying it, Jessie! It is really fun. I want to get into French over the summer. I kind of fell off it there for a while!

  12. That’s the hypomania. I leave the house about once a week to get groceries. Every now and then I say hi to a neighbor, but that’s it. When I’m out, I try really hard to notice the people who help me–drive-through people, waitresses, sales clerks, etc.–because I’ve done all those things and I know a lot of people don’t even make eye contact. But I don’t search people out. I like being alone most of the time. It’s very quiet and I can think.

    I do agree it’s a spectrum, but I think we’re talking about different things. People get exhausted teaching no matter where they are on the spectrum. Hypomania zaps me down to the far end and then when I’m alone again zaps me down to the other end.

    Krissie just loves people.

  13. I think that’s true. I avoid every social situation I can, and the few I have said yes to, I’ve always regretted the day before I had to leave. Usually whatever it was was really interesting once I got there, but I was still in hell because there was nowhere quiet to retreat to. It’s been heaven staying home the past couple of years.

  14. As far as I understand it, and from what my therapists and various books have said, it’s all about where your energy comes from, not how well you handle social situations. Do you get energized from being around people, especially with lots of stimulation? Extrovert. Do you need alone time (or time with just a few loved ones) to recharge? Introvert. Shyness and social anxiety are separate issues and can affect both extroverts and introverts. I’m an introvert (social situations, even at small parties where I know everyone) wipe me out and I need time alone to get my energy back. But I can be very outgoing (I’m a recovering shy person with social anxieties) when I’m comfortable or feeling confident. And I do think it’s a spectrum. Plus, a person can become even more introverted by spending a lot of time alone — they need social time to stretch their “muscles”. And extroverts could use some alone time to balance themselves.

    That’s my five cents. 🙂

  15. Kelly S says:

    I listened to the book, ” Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and found it to be really wonderful. It is much much better than the author’s TED talk. On her site she has a very basic quiz on Introvert vs. Extrovert vs. Ambivert – which might be what you are Lani. To quote from her website,

    E/I = Ambivert. If you answered the questions evenly, true and false, you’re probably an ambivert – meaning that you fall smack in the middle of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. In many ways, ambiverts have the best of both worlds, able to tap into either pole as needed.

    So, yeah, a spectrum and since we live in a society that values extrovertism, most introverts have learned some skills so we don’t get overlooked. In section three of her book she talks about other cultures that value the introvert. It made me want to cross an ocean.

    I highly recommend her (Susan Cain) book.

  16. Micki says:

    I love that — I’m introverted, too, but I know how to be on. (-: Useful life skill! It was *very* difficult growing up when I didn’t know how to be “on” in a socially acceptable fashion. People either got more forgiving, or I learned how to fit in better (maybe a little bit of both).

  17. Micki says:

    Oh, Skye, that’s at least a buck and half! (I remember when a buck-fifty were riches to be savored.) I think that’s really true.

  18. Micki says:

    I find that very few of those quizzes are designed well enough for me to answer truthfully. I’m always, “Well, this is true 70 percent of time,” or “Well, answer B is less false than the other options.”

    I think they are a lot like horoscopes or other pigeon-holing devices. They tell you something vague, and you can 1) dismiss it as worthless rather easily, 2) pay attention to the parts that you want to pay attention to or 3) embrace the things that aren’t quite you but you want to attain, and then work to fit the prophecy, instead of the prophecy fitting you.

    Some people are self-sabotaging, and it’s a dangerous game. “Oh, I’m an introvert, I won’t even bother.” Others use these sort of things as empowerment, “Oh, I’m an introvert, so I need to try harder in social situations, and make sure I get some recharge time later.”

    (-: I tend to do both, depending.

    Fence-sitters. That should be a definite category. People who are congenitally ill-equipped to pick a lane and drive in it. That’s me.

  19. German Chocolate Betty says:

    I am an introvert (need lots of “alone time”) married to an extravert. He is like a vampire, sucking up energy from others in social situations, and comes back from parties and other social situations totally tanked up. For me, it’s like the others at a social gathering are the vampires, and they bleed me dry.

    He will tell you that I am the outgoing one in social situations, which is true on some level. He interprets that as that I am okay with all sorts of social interactions because of my high level of participation in such events.

    What I can’t get him to understand is that I often have to force an adrenalin rush to deal with these situations — to hype myself up just to get through them. And with adrenalin overload, I get talkative (or else I would fall comatose).

    It has marginally improved since I threw a huge hissy fit a few years back and insisted that we confine ourselves to ONE social interaction per weekend. That gives me at least some time to myself for recovery.

    However, he continually slips things by me: we have a long holiday weekend coming up shortly and it will be spent like this: Thurs: he flies in from abroad and I pick him up at Frankfurt airport then we drive to Bamberg to visit our son. The following morning (Fri) we drive to Munich where Hubby has a guest lecture, and I spend that time poking around, then late afternoon we drive further south to his sister’s, where we spend the night. Then the next day (Sat), we drive even further south to visit friends and stay at their place overnight. Then on Sun, after breakfast/brunch/lunch/whatever, we will drive home (about 6 hours). Then on Mon it’s back to work.

    This is a horror for me. He will say “oh, yes, but you always have a good time”. Well, sure, it’s fun to see everyone, but I am mentally and emotionally anemic by the time this is over, I suffer from adrenal fatigue through pushing myself to be sociable, and I will be groggy and under-par the whole following week at work. Crap.

    Because, of course, I am also the only one doing this all in a foreign language, which sucks up even more energy than normal.

    Sorry. Rant finished.

  20. We had to take personality tests in college as part of a course called “psychiatric testing” and we took the one that gives you the four letters. Thinking-Feeling, Introvert-Extrovert, Intuitive-I don’t remember the other options, but they were all on a spectrum and generally you fell towards one end of the spectrum or the other. I remember that I fell right in the middle of the introvert-extrovert scale, which means that I have qualities of both and can play on either team.

    I think personality inventories are fun, but they rely on self-reporting, which makes them flawed to begin with (my professor would be so proud), and then they usually want a black-or-white answer, when in reality the answer to most of those questions is, “it depends” or “none of the above.” And then, people change, so none of that’s set in stone.

    As far as dragons go, green is nice but I’d so much rather be red . . . except for the days that I’d like to be purple, or orange, or a gorgeous midnight blue. And then again, green is bright and cheery. . .

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