You might be an introvert if . . .
- You cry easily at commercials
- You have friends who talk more than you do
- You prefer texts to phone calls
- You think small talk is shallow
- You keep your stories short so you won’t waste people’s time
- You prefer to study alone rather than with a group
- You get personal on social media
- You can’t scrapbook with a group
- You’ve been told you’re too sensitive
- You blush easily
- You leave a party with less energy than you arrived with
- You become speechless over a piece of art or a poem or a song
- You’re not labeled a “people person” despite having strong friendships
- You have fewer hobbies but you stick with them
- You hate scary movies
- You can be too tired to talk
It’s been awhile since I’ve read the game-changing book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I’m due for a re-read soon.
Looking back, there were some things I learned brand-new in Quiet. And other things reinforced what I already felt deep in my spirit.
“Introverts may enjoy parties and business meetings up to a point, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.
They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family.
They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”
– Susan Cain, Quiet
Introversion Is Not Shyness
Nobody is all introvert or all extrovert. One-third to one-half of us are introverted (but it’s hard to tell because introverts can channel extroversion as needed).
American culture encourages extroversion whereas many eastern cultures respect introversion. (The tipping point for extroversion in America was around 1900; earlier, our culture emphasized the importance of virtuous qualities over having a “good personality.”)
Even though the terms are often usually interchangeably, introversion is not the same thing as shyness.
- Introversion is also not low self-esteem.
- It’s not low IQ.
- It’s not about liking or disliking people.
- It’s not about the ability to carry on a conversation.
Though these qualities—either negative or positive—are often attached to popular definitions of introversion/extroversion, there is no scientific evidence correlating them to either introverts or extroverts.
“Probably the most common—and damaging—misunderstanding about personality type is that introverts are antisocial and extroverts are pro-social.
But . . . neither formulation is correct; introverts and extroverts are differently social.
. . . Your degree of extroversion seems to influence how many friends you have, in other words, but not how good a friend you are.”
So What Is Introversion?
Introversion is about how much stimulation you need to function well.
For introverts, less is more because they’re more sensitive to stimulation than extroverts. Introverts tend to process the world more deeply, thinking and feeling more thoroughly about what they notice.
In infancy, introverts are high-reactive babies, typically very sensitive to their environments. Extroverts, however, are typically low-reactive babies; it takes more stimulation before their nervous systems are overloaded.
The upside for introverts is they are more empathetic and cooperative. Kind and conscientious.
They have thinner boundaries, able to empathize and focus on personal problems of others instead of considering them too heavy for conversation.
They have greater powers of alertness, seeing extra nuances in everyday experiences.
The downside is they may react to stress with more depression and anxiety (and yes, sometimes shyness) than an extrovert.
They can feel more guilt because of their heightened sensitivity to all experiences—positive or negative.
They are also more easily disturbed by cruelty and irresponsibility.
“It can be hard for extroverts to understand how badly introverts need to recharge at the end of a busy day.
We all empathize with a sleep-deprived mate who comes home from work too tired to talk, but it’s harder to grasp that social overstimulation can be just as exhausting.
It’s also hard for introverts to understand just how hurtful their silence can be.”
Introverts are geared to inspect. They think more and act slower.
Extroverts are geared to respond. They think less and act faster.
Should either try to change? No, except when it’s temporarily appropriate to do so. Otherwise, stay true to yourself.
If you’re an introvert, learn to use it to your advantage. If you’re an extrovert, strengthen your unique skills.
Walk alongside your opposite to complement each other, not compete. Each has much to offer the other.
Whatever your temperament, we all have much to gain by better understanding each other and valuing each other.
Learn to appreciate and use your type.
* * *
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Is your partner the same or opposite? Please share in the comments.
revised from the archives
- Can You Give What They Need?
- Which Is Worse: The Straw or the Burger?