Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can’t name and don’t understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we’re embarrassed.
That fact is whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. The introvert/extrovert divide is the most fundamental dimension of personality. And at least a third of us are on the introverted side. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity or Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Yet extroverts have taken over. Sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as undesirable. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are.
The brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and society misunderstands and undervalues introverts.
“A species in which everyone was General Patton would not succeed, any more than would a race in which everyone was Vincent van Gogh. I prefer to think that the planet needs athletes, philosophers, sex symbols, painters, scientists; it needs the warmhearted, the hardhearted, the coldhearted, and the weakhearted. It needs those who can devote their lives to studying how many droplets of water are secreted by the salivary glands of dogs under which circumstances, and it needs those who can capture the passing impression of cherry blossoms in a fourteen-syllable poem or devote twenty-five pages to the dissection of a small boy’s feelings as he lies in bed in the dark waiting for his mother to kiss him goodnight.… Indeed the presence of outstanding strengths presupposes that energy needed in other areas has been channeled away from them.” – Allen Shawn
Introversion, along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness: is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are.
Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.
Introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling, extroverts to the external life of people and activities.
Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them; extroverts plunge into the events themselves.
Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone; extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.
Introverts often work more slowly and deliberately. They like to focus on one task at a time and can have mighty powers of concentration. They’re relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame.
Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, 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 feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict.
Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.
The word introvert is not a synonym for hermit or misanthrope. Introverts can be these things, but most are perfectly friendly.
Nor are introverts necessarily shy. Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not. One reason that people confuse the two concepts is that they sometimes overlap, though psychologists debate to what degree.
But for all their differences, shyness and introversion have in common something profound. The mental state of a shy extrovert sitting quietly in a business meeting may be very different from that of a calm introvert— the shy person is afraid to speak up, while the introvert is simply overstimulated— but to the outside world, the two appear to be the same.
There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.
Many introverts are also “highly sensitive,” which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, then you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience.
If there is only one insight you take away from this book, though, I hope it’s a newfound sense of entitlement to be yourself. I can vouch personally for the life-transforming effects of this outlook.
by Susan Cain. from her book: Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking
I oversimplify and say I don’t like people, when what I actually dislike are the surface-level interactions of most social gatherings.
We’ve all been to those parties where the sole purpose of the event is for everyone to break into small groups where they talk about sports, the weather, or where the host’s second cousin got her hair done. It’s moments like these where it suddenly becomes very important to find out if there’s a pet you can play with, or when all else fails, perhaps a large potted plant to hide behind. If there’s a drink to be fetched or a bowl of chips to be refilled, this task will instantly become the sole purpose of my existence, because literally anything is better than small talk.
In order to get to those coveted discussions about life goals, creative passions, and the existence of the universe, you sometimes have to start with some small talk, no matter how painful it might be.
Do I really want to go to a party when I could curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea? It’s a no-brainer. However, to reap the rewards, you sometimes have to put in the work.
So, my fellow introverts, please occasionally put down your books, go out, and search for the people who make socializing worth it — because I’m out there looking for you.
by Rachel Ginder – Introvert, Dear