I am an introvert. I have been all my life, and I have know for years, but I didn’t fully understand what that meant until recently.
There are stereotypes about introverts; they don’t like people, they are unsociable, rude, distant etc. That’s not true.
If you are introverted you probably feel misunderstood a lot and most people don’t get you. That’s because most people don’t understand introverts, and the majority of people are extroverted, so the world is designed with extroverts in mind. I guess it’s a bit like being a leftie in a right handed world.
I’m no psychologist, but I’ve done a bit of reading on the subject lately and I thought I’d share. I now have a better understanding of why I do the things I do and why it has been so difficult for me at work when it’s busy.
Here are some of the main points I picked up. It won’t apply to every introvert- we are all different – but maybe, if you fall into this category, it will help you understand yourself better.
The main difference between introverts and extroverts is that extroverts gain energy from being on the go – social interaction, being with people, doing things.. they like to live in the fast lane, have a full social calendar and find social situations easy and enjoyable. Introverts take things at a slower pace, like (and in fact need) time to themselves. They gain energy/recharge with rest and quiet. Introverts need to leave gaps in their social calendar in order to recharge. Being on the go and especially social interaction is draining. This does not mean they don’t like people – just that being around people takes more out of them than extroverts so they don’t socialise as much.
Introverts, myself included, don’t tend to like parties or large groups of people. Places like clubs are hell to me – they are too noisy, there is too many people and too much going on. It just gives me a headache.
1-2-1 situations are generally better than large groups but 1-2-1 can be too intense sometimes – too much attention both ways. Small groups are best – everyone gets some spotlight but you can sit back and think some of the time as there are others to carry on the conversation. Introverts need this time as they tend to be more analytical and thoughts take longer to percolate – that doesn’t mean introverts are slow though! Introverts think before they speak, extroverts can be quick to simply say whatever is on their mind. Which is why extroverts sometimes may feel introverts are holding back on them.
Introverts worry about people wanting more from them than they can give. They worry about saying no and don’t like confrontations. They don’t want people to think they don’t like them etc If an introvert declines your social invitation try not to take offence, they may just need some time out and most likely find this hard to explain. I always need to keep some time for myself each week.
Too much draining interaction can make introverts feel ill, drained, tired, like they have no energy, can’t think straight, feel like they’re getting stupider by the day and can’t concentrate. They need breaks to be able to function at their best.
The main thing you need to know if you are introverted is – there is nothing wrong with you! Your temperament is different to the majority of the population but that’s just the way you are. You are perfectly normal and should to accept yourself as you are. Your friends must accept you as you are too! If you do feel negative about being introverted, check out the links below.
I wrote this to spread the word about introverts; the more people that have an understanding of our differences the easier our lives could become. I have a training background and what springs to mind is that working in a group, understanding each others differences is essential to ensuring success. When there is an understanding of each person’s differences, everyone can be comfortable, work at their best and their abilities can be used to the best advantage for the group.
These are the points that stood out for me, if you are interested in learning more check out the following:
- Excellent introversion summary video by Charlie on YouTube
- 10 myths about introverts
- Susan Cain – The Power of introverts
- The Introvert advantage book – Marti Laney
- Are intorverts are oppressed group
- Caring for your introvert
- Quiz – are you introvert or extrovert
My introversion is one reason I spend quite a bit of time alone in the woods with my camera! 😛
One last point is that introversion and shyness are two different things.
This is taken from Psychology today (source):
Shyness is the awkwardness or apprehension some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. Unlike introverts, who feel energized by time alone, shy people often desperately want to connect with others, but don’t know how or can’t tolerate the anxiety that comes with human interaction.
Edited to add this link to 9 rules for being friends with an introvert