I’ve always been an introvert, maybe because I was raised by introverts, maybe just because of personal preferences. It is what it is. So while I know this about myself, I didn’t realize what a hot topic the whole introvert-extrovert deal had become. In fact, there have been quite a few articles written about it in the past couple of years and it seems researchers are starting to agree that being an introvert is good for health and mental well being. Fantastic news for me! Sadly, society doesn’t really “get” introverts, especially we “western” societies that value being loud, overly social, and fast paced. These aren’t things we introverts are good at, so we tend to be labeled as “anti-social” or just plain strange.
I know all about that being strange thing. But you know what? I think it’s strange that people want to relax on the weekend by going out and partying with GIANT groups of people. What’s wrong with keeping it simple. How are you supposed to relax better in a crowd than with one or two good friends? Or a good book? Frankly, extroverts are strange too. What makes them not quite so strange is that we know more about how they function. So my list for the day are the positive traits of we introverts. Of course there’s the whole this doesn’t apply to everyone tag line I have to give so no one gets offended…so: this doesn’t apply to everyone, but is based on research, there are always exceptions to every rule, you can have the traits of both an introvert and an extrovert, some people really are just strange, don’t take yourself so seriously.
1) More people are introverted than you think, although an exact number isn’t known because of how hard it is to measure personality (most places say between 25-15% of all people). It does have to do with how the brain is wired, it’s not aconscious choice. It’s nature not nurture. An introvert brain gets recharged and feels energized when you’re spending time alone, or with a small group of friends, whereas being in a large group makes you feel tired. Extroverts are the opposite.
2) Being an introvert and just being alone are two different things. I had this guy friend in college who always seemed to spend time alone writing, watching movies, or reading books. I thought I’d found a kindred spirit, someone who genuinely enjoyed doing things on his own, one of the few people on campus who didn’t feel pulled in by the party scene. However, he once asked me “what’s wrong with us? I hate being alone, it sucks, I need to be around people” blah, blah, blah. He wasn’t “one of us”. Introverts genuinely like time to themselves, and while we might feel there’s something “wrong” with us for not wanting to be around a big group of people we aren’t miserable when we’re along. (Some people just like to whine…)
3) Introverts can actually make better leaders than extroverts. While extroverts might look good and make stellar impressions, introverts are actually able to bring out people’s more creative side. While they might not make the same impact when they walk in a room, they can actually get people to work harder. Introverts are naturally team players because they’re less drawn to being the center of attention, more willing to share the spotlight, and better able to see the strengths in other people and make sure they’re played to their strengths.
4) Introverts may be better at getting their way than extroverts. Typically extroverts are more likely to jump to conclusions and say the first thing that comes to their minds. Introverts are more likely to think things through before they say anything, so they are better at forming rational arguments the first time around, and can more easily convince people to come around to their way of thinking.
5) Introverts aren’t anti-social. I always got yelled at in school (middle and high school) for not participating enough or not talking enough in class. I always thought there was something wrong with me because I wouldn’t speak up, like I had some kind of undiagnosed social anxiety disorder. Yet when I got to college I started participating constantly in conversation in my English and education classes. Although I still didn’t like participating in general ed. classes. I like talking about things that interest me. Get me in a debate over a the theme in a book and I can talk for hours, doesn’t matter how many people are in the room. Ask me what I did over the weekend or how I like the weather and I don’t have much to say. In general, introverts tend to like talking about deeper topics than interest them than small talk or topics they don’t care about. Long story short, I don’t have a disorder! How exciting.
6) Introverts aren’t socially inept. This sort of goes with number 5, but it makes me feel better to know. There is a difference between being introverted and being shy. Between not wanting to do something and feeling incapable of doing something. Introverts are perfectly capable of functioning in social situations. The reason they don’t seem as social as introverts, or as capable, is because we introverts just like having more time to ourselves, so we choose to spend less of it at large group events.
7) Introverts have just as much energy as extroverts, just in different ways. I like to think of it in the sense that we all just enjoy doing different things so we’re more likely to put more energy into what we like. Extroverts like being around people, so they’re more energetic in highly stimulized environments. Introverts like doing more reflective things, so we get more energy from one-on-one conversations, reading a book, writing, you know introvert-y things.
8) Introverts like to observe just as much as they like to participate. Sometimes I get made fun of by friends (in a good way) because if someone’s playing a game at a party I’m that person who says “I’ll just watch this time”. I like observing people…not in a creepy-stalker way, it can just be fun to enjoy watching other people enjoy things. Like watching my 2 year old niece play by herself. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to participate too, it just means that we introverts actually can be happy watching.
9) Introversion and extroversion aren’t two different things. Psychologists have actually come up with a new term called “ambiversion” which is our personality scale. Extrovert and Introvert are just the two ends of the same scale, and if you fall right in the middle you’re considered an “ambivert”. (I scored around a 70-75% on the Introvert side of the scale).
10) We’re not better than you, you’re not better than us. While most people tend to think extroverts are better, more normal, or happier than extroverts that’s not true. It’s also not true that introverts are more articulate, creative, or intelligent than extroverts. It’s really just about how you like to spend your time, how you re-energize after a long day. What you chose to do with that time is up to the rest of your personality.
I hope you’ve found some of these facts as interesting as I did. I really thing it’s pretty interesting and it gives me a few come backs to all those people who’ve said there’s something wrong with me in the past. Turns out we’re all normal…just in different ways. Makes more sense that way.
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