Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Perks of Being an Introvert

I have been an introvert my entire life, but recently became a little bit obsessed with the difference between introverts and extroverts. Growing up, I really loved being alone, reading books at home, having a few close friends, and observing things quietly. When I went places, I would soak everything in but not really participate. I didn't know how else to act. I always secretly wished I was the life of the party, but I also really loved having my own world in my thoughts. At times I felt "different" because I always observed extroverts having lots of friends and interacting with ease in social situations.

As I grew up, I became less shy (btw, being shy and being an introvert do not always go hand in hand, but in my case, they do) and learned how to navigate social situations on my own terms. In college, I went to parties but found a few people to talk to in a corner. I would have fun, then leave early to go be alone. I didn't realize until about a year ago that I really need quiet, alone time to recharge my batteries. Large social gatherings with people I don't know well feel the same to me as that part in the Lion King where Scar throws Simba into that stampede. That business is overwhelming! 

I really started to notice it when I encountered extroverts. I didn't know how to act because I had surrounded myself with introverts my whole life! When I got a job teaching art, I would come home emotionally exhausted and need to spend hours by my self to make up for "performing" in front of people all day.

Doing some research about the difference between extroverts and introverts really helped me understand the personality traits of Es and Is. And now I know how to care for an extrovert when I interact with one. I also know what to ask of others as an introvert. One time I had to explain how I needed to be treated by an extrovert I spent a lot of time with. It changed everything once we understood what the other person needed. So here's what I found:

Introverts recharge by being alone and enjoy it. Extroverts are energized by people and feel "lonely" when they're not around people. 

Introverts process thoughts internally, and then share them. Extroverts think out loud and like to bounce ideas off of people.

Introverts do not like the pressure of attention in groups. Extroverts enjoy attention.

Introverts are listeners. Extroverts talk more than they listen. 

Introverts hate small talk and crave meaningful conversation. Extroverts crave chatting and don't mind small talk.

Introverts focus or fixate easily. Extroverts are easily distracted.

Introverts love to read because it gives them a safe place to explore the world with low risk. Extroverts are highly active. 

Introverts have a few close friends. Extroverts have multiple fluid relationships.

Introverts observe first in new situations. Extroverts jump right in.

Introverts are not always shy. Extroverts are not always the life of the party. No one is 100% either type. 

I read an article about how the business world values extroversion over extroversion, but introverts can actually be better at managing people! They listen to multiple points of view and consider them before making a decision, and they pull answers from other introverts because they know they're probably have a good idea in their head that they don't feel comfortable sharing. 

"According to the literature on the subject, introverts have positive and valuable attributes. They are good at listening, planning, taking time for thought, focusing, concentrating on tasks for long, uninterrupted periods of time. They can form strong and intimate bonds with people. They can act independently, listen well, can step back from a situation to analyze it, and can persevere and be loyal.

Yet, says Laney, introversion is "pathologized" in our society and labelled as anti-social. "We live in a culture that has a negative attitude about reflection and solitude," says the psychologist. [Introverts aren't anti-social—they are just social in a different way]'" - found here

Now that I have done my research, I don't feel so alone! It's easy to feel like a weirdo in a world where being outgoing and gregarious are often valued above being quiet. Knowing how extroverts and introverts think has made daily interactions so much easier to navigate! And every now and then, I practice being an introvert, just to make things interesting. 

BTW, ambiverts exist! Matt says he is 50% introvert, 50% extrovert! 

I believe that the world needs all three types of people. But here's a shout out to my fellow introverts! 

Which one are you? When did you realize which one you were? 

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