As providers of the largest co-living development in the world, it’s safe to assume that The Collective are pretty enthusiastic about the co-living principle. For us, it represents a new paradigm for living in cities, reclaiming community and convenience in an age of increasing social isolation and time poverty. We’ve sought to give our members something beyond renting a studio apartment in a new tower block – co-living at Old Oak is way of life, enabling you to be the best you can be. (Like I said, we’re pretty enthusiastic.)
At the same time, this type of connected living – based around shared spaces, experiences and events – might not be for everyone (what is?). Something I hear a lot from more hesitant observers is something along the lines of: ‘sounds great, but it wouldn’t work for me, I’m an introvert.’ I’d not paid this idea much attention at first, but the more it came up, I began to wonder: can co-living work for the more introverted? What is an introvert – or an extrovert – anyway?
At the back of my mind was a lazy, black-and-white understanding of the subject: introverts are antisocial, and extroverts are attention-seekers. This being no doubt reductionist to the point of inaccuracy, I decided to look further into it. As expected, an elementary google search later, I found myself in the midst of a fairly complex subject (note to self: next week, stick with a listicle).
Introverts and Extroverts - The Basics
Put simply, the concept of introversion-extroversion forms part of human personality theory. Generally speaking, extraversion tends to be marked by energetic, outgoing and talkative behaviour, whilst introversion manifests through behaviour that is more reserved and solitary. Some see introversion and extroversion as more or less mutually exclusive, whilst others argue that we all have introverted and extroverted sides to ourselves – it’s not an exact science.
The stereotypical extrovert is at best the gregarious and charismatic socialite, and at worst the attention-seeker. Really, extroverts simply thrive off being around other people, feeling energised by social encounters. They are more prone to boredom when by themselves, finding it more rewarding and enjoyable to spend time with other people versus being alone.
Extroversion can be understood as a state of gaining gratification from outside of oneself, and as such extroverts take great pleasure from social gatherings and working in groups. That’s not to say than an extrovert is by necessity a constant partier, or someone demanding constant attention – it’s more the case that extroverts regain energy and feel their best when around other people.
Extroverts are outwardly more expressive, enthusiastic, assertive and talkative than introverts.
Are introverts shy loners? Far from it. True, introverts tend to take pleasure in solitary activities, finding time spent with large groups less rewarding. But that’s not to say that introverts fear social situations, don’t value friendships, or want to be alone all the time. When engaging with others, introverts prefer to interact with individuals one-or-one, or socialise in small groups – they can become overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement.
Introverts ultimately gather their energy from within. Whilst an extrovert may choose to unwind by going out with a big group of people, an introvert may prefer to recharge alone or with one or two friends.
Ambiversion – Somewhere in Between?
Feel like you’re somewhere in the middle? Whilst some schools of thought see introversion and extroversion as mutually exclusive traits, others see more room for crossover. It’s possible to identify as more introverted or extroverted, but still exhibit some of the opposite behaviour. An ambivert is argued to be someone who falls somewhere in the middle, feeling moderately moderately comfortable with groups and social interaction, but also relishing alone time.
Co-living For Introverts and Extroverts
On the surface, it may look like co-living is more suited for extroverts: being part of such large, active community certainly provides ample opportunity to socialise. However, co-living doesn’t mean you have to be around other people 24/7. You still have your own private bedroom and bathroom to retreat to when you need alone time, whilst the opportunity to be around other people – in large groups or more one-on-one – is always there through the communal spaces and community events. It’s the best of both worlds: co-living unlocks community, putting real human connection at your doorstep for when you want to engage.
One of the most interesting things about co-living is the opportunity to live with a diverse variety of people, spanning the introversion-extroversion spectrum. Being aware of your own preferences and tendencies, and having the ability to recognise them in those around you, can go a long to way to enhance the shared living experience.
Written by Grace Waters