The introverted part of me was something that took me a while to understand. We live in a society that praises and encourages extroverted characteristics; they feel ‘normal’ and we understand them better. I didn’t know why I would feel so exhausted after being social for a few hours. I always needed a “weekend from my weekend”, so to speak. There were times when I would think, “Is there something wrong with me? Why am I not as excited as others to attend large social gatherings?” After doing some research and reading Susan Cain’s work “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and Sophia Dembling’s “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World”, I began to dispel some of the negative things I felt about myself due to my introverted characteristics. Therefore, I would like to share with you a few things I took away from these articles to help you understand your introverted self or loved one a little better.
First, not all introverts are shy and not all shy people are introverts. Shyness is a quality stemming from discomfort and anxiety in social interactions whereas introversion is more about recharging and gaining energy through alone time. This seems to be the number one misunderstanding about introverts.
Second, it’s a common myth that introverts don’t like to be around others. Introversion is not the same thing as misanthropy; introverts just enjoy social interaction in a different way. They may enjoy observations of social situations rather than participation or one-on- one conversation. Quality seems to be more important than quantity for introverts.
Third, it’s a misconception that introverts don’t make good leaders or public speakers. Research has shown that introverts enjoy and excel in roles that involve leading others, speaking publicly and being in the spotlight.
Fourth, some may think that being introverted means that you have a more negative personality. This is usually perceived because introverts actually like being alone. Extroverts, when having spent too much time alone, may feel isolated or depressed and may falsely assume that anyone who spends a lot of time alone must feel that way too. “Different strokes for different folks”.
Fifth, it’s untrue that introverts are more intellectual or creative than extroverts. Again being introverted or extroverted has more to do with how you regain your energy. As Dembling says, “Creativity occurs in an introverted space but that doesn’t mean we’ve cornered the market on it”.
Finally, although you may think the opposite, it’s actually not easy to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted. Being introverted doesn’t mean that you cannot walk up to everyone at a cocktail party and strike up a conversation, it just means that they will be looking forward to spending some alone time later to re-energize after the night’s events.
I would like to conclude my post to you with a very helpful quote I got from Dembling’s article:
“The description that introverts seem to relate most strongly to is the idea that Jung presented, that introverts are drained of energy by interaction, and gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction. It seems to be most strongly an energy thing –- where you get your energy and what takes it out of you.”