Thursday, October 3, 2013

On Being An Introvert

To all of you introverts reading this, today's post is for you!

This seemed to me like an appropriate photo for this post. Just me, my husband behind the camera, and the sheep of Napa Valley.

As a true introvert, I don't particularly like being at the center of attention. I've always been this way and I don't expect that I will ever change in this regard. But what I do like is all of the media attention being given to introverts as a whole. A few weeks ago, I watched this wise and refreshing TED talk on introversion, and just yesterday I stumbled upon an article that lists 23 signs that you're indeed an introvert. I highly recommend checking them both out--if you consider yourself an introvert I can assure you that they'll resonate with you--and I have to say that it's great to see this ongoing effort to make introversion better understood.

After reading the article yesterday, I was amazed at how many of the 23 "signs" were true for me. It was almost uncanny! Here are some that are spot-on.

Networking makes you feel like a phony.
I'm terrible at marketing myself, and the idea of "using my connections" for personal gain makes me uncomfortable. I know it's the way of the world, but I can't shake the feeling that it's cheating, somehow.

Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you.
I often feel most stimulated and creative and at peace when I'm reading a book and drinking a cup of tea. I feel very engaged and mindful during these times.

You start to shut down after you've been active for too long.
Absolutely. After a lot of chatting/socializing/mingling, I certainly begin to feel the need to escape for some quiet time. I also really appreciate coming home after a vacation--I thrive on my simple, quiet routines.

You're in a relationship with an extrovert.
One of the things I love about my husband is that we balance each other out. He's actually become more introverted as the years go on, but he's always been very comfortable and relaxed and lively around groups of people.

You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything.
My introverted Dad taught me this one. He always told us that it's better to excel at one thing than to be mediocre at a lot of things. Thanks Dad--that advice has served me well.

You have a constantly running inner monologue. 
Oh yes. I've written about my overactive, over-thinking mind before.

You've been called an "old soul"--since your 20s.
A jigsaw puzzle with my husband on a Saturday evening is my idea of perfect.

You're a writer.
Need I elaborate?

What about you? Are you extroverted, introverted, or a perfect mix of the two? I'd love to hear about what makes you tick.


  1. Even though I score as very extroverted as personality tests, and I pretty much never get tired of being around other people, I have to say that about 75% of that "23 signs" list applies to me. I think the lines between extrovert and introvert are getting a little blurred in pop culture. That said, my husband is an introvert (although quite a friendly and outgoing one) and it's been good for both of us to find a balance between our personalities. It's definitely an interesting topic!

  2. Hi Tess, thanks for your comment! I definitely agree that there's overlap and that none of us are purely extroverted or purely introverted! Each of us are a unique mix. The TED talk does a great job of acknowledging that point. Based on what you said, maybe you're an "ambivert," to use Susan Cain's term! I just think it's great to see so much about introversion out in the media these days. I think extroverts are much better understood than introverts, on the whole.

  3. I just looked up ambiverts and you're right—that does sound a lot like me! Hm, the plot thickens... :)

  4. Then you would love the book, "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain!!! I am an introvert too and thought it was such an insightful, fascinating book. When I have to I can put on the hat of being socially gregarious but it's not me and I can't do it for long. All the things you mentioned are me to a "tea". My husband is an introvert but somehow we manage. :)

  5. I was so happy when I learned introversion a few years ago; it was the first time I'd taken a personality assessment that actually felt accurate and meaningful. I consider myself 100% introvert although some of the fluffier articles floating around seem to treat introverts like fragile creatures, which I don't subscribe to. But the more my family reads about the concept of introverts (which does seem to be picking up steam in the mainstream), the more they have begun to understand me, which is great.

    My professional life requires me to be more outgoing in terms of networking and public speaking than I'm naturally inclined, and I'm glad it's forced me out of my comfort zone to try new ways of being. But I do fantasize about some day having a job that allows me to work in solitude, move at my own peaceful pace and schedule, embrace the creativity that happens in quiet moments, and all that good stuff. :)

    I recently discovered your blog, by the way, and I really enjoy it!

  6. This post and associated links touch on so many of the behaviors that I know I exhibit. I remember trying to explain to my husband (an extrovert) that when he is out in a social setting or engaging with other people he gains energy from those interactions and that I have a limit to how much I can physically socialize, it drains me and I find it to be exhausting and I cant wait to go home to "just be".

  7. Yes! Susan Cain was the speaker in the TED talk and I was so impressed with her. I'd love to check our her book. And I agree with what you said about putting on a different "hat"--so important to do that! But ok to recognize what really makes us happy, too :)

  8. Thanks so much for this, Toni! Glad this resonated with you and that you've discovered my blog. I haven't encountered any of the articles that talk about treating introverts like fragile creatures--I don't subscribe to that either. That assumes that there's something bad about introversion, and I think introversion is quite wonderful in many ways! Your job fantasy sounds just perfect :)

  9. Absolutely, this is exactly it. It's about what energizes you. Some people are energized by quiet time alone, while others need to engage with others to feel stimulated. We all need some of each, but it's so refreshing to accept ourselves and how we naturally feel!

  10. Loved this post, my friend! :)

  11. I thought you might :) Thanks for directing me to that TED talk in the first place!

  12. Alone time is a big thing for introverts! Although when you say turn it on and off, I think for me, it's less about turning off my introversion and more about simply trying to balance social time (which we all need, even introverts!) with the solitude that I crave. I don't think I'm ever "not" an introvert, and when I'm being social, it's just that I'm exercising a different part of me, the part that wants to connect to humans and have meaningful conversation and listen to others. But even in those situations I believe we're still introverts, and that just because we're chatting and laughing and mingling, that doesn't mean we are temporary extroverts. Because introverts can be friendly and talkative too! Does that make sense?? Maybe this is exactly what you meant, but you said it differently. It's such an interesting topic and I guess we all have unique ways of looking at it :)

  13. Definitely introverted, but some may say otherwise. My husband is extremely introverted, so compared to him, I am an extrovert. I think sometimes, since being a SAHM, when I get around other adults, I can tend to be chatty, but my preference is always to be somewhere quiet (away from the noise), with 1 person, or even just myself. Is it weird that often, I enjoy downtime. When my calendar fills up..even with only 2 things that are out of the ordinary week, I tend to go into panic mode and can never understand how people can have something going on every single day of the week.

  14. I think that I am ultimately an introvert, but I definitely have my extrovert moments. When I was younger I used to have bad social anxiety, and I think I tried to push myself out of it by trying to convince myself that I actually *liked* big social situations! Acting opposite definitely helped with that, and it still helps me now when I'm feeling awkward and anxious in front of others. I've learned to find some enjoyment in those extrovert moments, but if I had to choose, I'd pick quiet introvert moments any day. :)

  15. That's so funny! I know that "panic mode" when you have too much going on. It can become so overwhelming!

  16. Oh yes, I agree with this. I also think that the anxiety that introverts sometimes feel about social situations is the worst in the lead up to the event. I almost always enjoy myself when I'm actually in them!

  17. Sweetest thing I've heard in a long time!! :)

  18. Ohhhh goodness. But I love it. I wouldn't wish to become an extrovert for anything. :)

  19. Totally agree! I'm proud to be an introvert. I do think that extroverts are sort of "favored" in modern society, and I think it's great when introverts stand up for the value of a quieter, more contemplative life.


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