I’m an introvert (hence my site tagline “Introvert musings on life”). If I’m hanging out with family or friends too long, or if my schedule is filled with more busyness than I would like, I start to feel drained and tired – mentally and physically. No matter how much I may enjoy the company of certain people or some activity, I hit a wall at a certain point and I need time alone to decompress.
I’m perfectly comfortable in my solitude and I’ve been this way since I was a child. Like most children, I loved playing with other kids, but I never had a problem playing by myself either. It wasn’t until I became an adult that I thought something was wrong with me.
A book titled Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain changed my life. It helped me understand that my personality isn’t some flaw that needs to be fixed, but how I process things. Like our extrovert counterparts, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Yet no type is better than the other.
In the beginning of the book Susan Cain explains how our society shifted in the early 20th century. Contemplative people like me used to be highly regarded for our demure presence. The emergence of television, movies, advertising, and salesmanship allowed a platform for performers who seemed larger than life. Thus, the whole ‘look at me, listen to me’ gregarious persona began to take over as being the social norm and considered a standard to which we all should aspire. This is quite interesting since not all people in the spotlight are extroverts. In fact, many famous and successful people are/were introverts – Albert Einstein, Julia Roberts, Rosa Parks, Bill Gates to name a few.
It’s about energy. Extroverts gain energy from interacting with many people regularly and engaging in more involved activities on a more frequent basis. They need more stimulation, otherwise they become drained. If you’re like me, it’s the complete opposite. Introverts recharge when we’re left alone to think, ponder, read, write, etc. I’m perfectly fine shopping, dining, or watching a movie alone. But often it takes days, sometimes weeks, for me to recover from a calendar full of social events.
Let me add, no one is 100% introvert or extrovert. We all fall somewhere on the scale with some leaning more one way or the other. Also, no one personality trait is exclusively introvert or extrovert. There are outgoing introverts, and extroverts can have moments of introspection. Some people are ambiverts – those who are share both personality types equally. You can take this quiz to find out where you are – Quiet Quiz.
I’m extremely sensitive to my surroundings. I hate chaos and disorder. It drives me crazy. When I walk into a situation I like to know what I’m in for and what to expect. I don’t do well with last minute requests or changes…especially if I’ve already mentally planned my day ahead. I carefully choose my words and don’t do well when put on the spot. Introverts take our time to think things through. Our minds are very colorful and imaginative so we have to sort through many thoughts. Everything is complex to us because of how we see life and interact with the world.
I like to be spontaneous…as long as I’m prepared (I’m still working on this concept…lol). I’m not anti-social, I prefer the term selectively social. I enjoy the company of those who truly understand me and with whom I can be totally authentic with and connect on a deeper level. I’d rather have a few intimate meaningful relationships, than dozens of shallow surface level acquaintances. Forced conversations and small talk are the bane of my existence!
I’m no expert. I’m just sharing my experiences as a predominately introverted person and if you’re like me, maybe you can relate and know that you’re not alone. 😉
I’m not necessarily shy. I just like to observe situations and people before I get involved. It takes time for me to feel comfortable in new environments. If I don’t feel that I have anything important to say, I’ll keep quiet. But if you bring up something that interests me, you’ll beg me to shut up! I can absolutely be the life of the party if the mood hits me (turn down for what??!!). I’m not afraid of public speaking either – I’ve hosted spoken word events and recited my own poetry many times. I have to be passionate about what I’m discussing.
I do, however, have to force myself to get out of my own little world at times. Though I love it there, I recognize that it can be a double edged sword. It can be great for my creativity and peace of mind, but it can be to my detriment if I retrieve too far into my bubble. It’s all about finding the right balance between recharging alone and reaching out to others. Sometimes you have to take extra steps in order to not be misunderstood and communicate your needs for well being. Those who care about you will understand or at least attempt to. It’s not about changing yourself for others, but recognizing how an introvert’s behavior can be seen as odd to someone who doesn’t naturally relate.
So if you’re more of an extrovert reading this, but you know someone who shares these traits, give them a little space. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want to go out every single weekend. If you’re an introvert reading this, hopefully it’s comforting. God made us all different, but we all have something unique to offer this world. I’ve tapped into my passion for writing – a profession made up of mostly introverts. But we need the charismatic people-person types just as much as those of us who are more reflective. Be yourself and allow others to do the same.
Great resources and community pages for introverts: