I’m an introvert–there I said it. When I say this to my friends they say, “What? No! You’re outgoing. You can’t be an introvert.”
Myth #1: A shy person may be an introvert, but shyness is not an attribute of introversion.
Understanding introversion has helped me so much–to know my boundaries, limitations, and not feel guilty about choices I need to make to keep myself functioning at an optimal level.
Supposedly, the population is only made up of about 25% introverts, and the rest extroverts, which essentially makes it “an extrovert’s world”. Therefore, introverts are grossly misunderstood.
It’s important to understand yourself or those you know who are introverts and it’s equally important to understand extroverts, and the difference between the two. It goes a long way in helping us express empathy to one another, and recognizing how we most optimally function.
What’s the difference?
In a nutshell, extroverts get their energy from people and activities, while introverts become easily drained by too much of those things. They get their energy from “down time” wherein they think and ponder and plan and ruminate.
It is actually said that introverts have an over-sensitivity to dopamine, the neurotransmitter that relays signals from the nerves to the brain. Extroverts need more adrenaline and stimulation to feel “happy”. Introverts will shut down from too much stimulation and need long periods of “down time” to recover from it.
My brother is an extrovert. He can’t have enough parties in a week, enough company in a day or enough athletic events in a year.
I can only do a party every now and then and need my company spaced out and I love quiet. Two social events in one day? Forget it. That’s asking the moon. He wants to live among people and sights and sounds, I like solitude, controlling how much interaction I have with the outside world. He cannot wrap his brain around that and I can’t imagine the constant stimulation that is his busy life. We get that about each other…I think.
Extroverts love busy; introverts can become irritated by the sound of an exhaust fan.
Introverts love to think, and are very inward-focused. They relish quiet. They don’t necessarily like being alone–they love to share their thoughts and dreams–and they can get lonely.
Myth #2: Introverts dislike people. No they don’t. They just don’t like a of people for a long time. They enjoy one-on-one interaction, focused conversation, and can be overwhelmed, after a while, among groups. People are draining to them because they are taking in so much information at one time and need to get away to process it.
Myth #3: Introverts don’t like to talk. Actually, they love to talk, but not in a chatty kind of way. They love to discuss deep things and can be easily exhausted by small talk for too long. Actually, many introverts are quite out-going. But that energy only lasts for a short time and then they feel a deep need to retreat and recharge.
And some introverts are very quiet, not shy, but reflective and introspective.
Myth #4: Introverts are boring.
Well, maybe they are to you. But they aren’t bored. They love to think, dream, write, plan and solve problems. This, to an introvert, is heaven. Introverts appear to be doing “nothing” a lot of the time, but sometimes they are doing way more than meets the eye…all inside their heads.
They like sameness, routine and are rather fearful of change. This can be a problem, but it’s real all the same.
The two things in my life that have rocked my introverted world is having nine children (remember, “people make us tired”) and having my steady, calm, sameness yanked out from under me in the storm two years ago. But these are good things, to stretch me out of my comfort zone and make me completely dependent on God’s grace. It’s all good.
It should be noted though, that your family members, with whom you are very familiar, are not as draining as being around people with whom you are not quite comfortable. Sometimes, a mother can recharge simply with a quiet walk, or a short drive, or a bath.
It takes all kinds to make the world go ’round! But recognizing some of these qualities in each personality will hopefully help us to be more considerate.
There is a warning: I cannot use my introverted tendencies to excuse me from doing things that may feel out of my comfort zone, just because “I’m wired that way”. Sometimes we have to do hard things because we need to do them.
However, understanding your personality–especially if you are an introvert–will help you set healthy boundaries around your life. Because the majority of people are more extroverted, society tends to favor those traits. It’s important to realize that an introvert isn’t flawed in any way and actually possesses many positive traits specifically as an introvert. But if you don’t understand it, you may feel guilty for not “being more extroverted”. If you feel constantly exhausted and over-stimulated, perhaps you are doing too much and not giving yourself enough recharging solitude…an exercise that makes you best-equipped to handle life.