LESSONS IN LIFE: WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AN INTROVERT?

Vanha Kirkkopuisto Helsinki

Let’s be straight here. Being an introvert in today’s society is sometimes a struggle. Social media? Assertiveness? Self-promotion? Hustle? Yup, that’s only a couple of examples of things that can totally overwhelm someone who would rather just enjoy their free time without any distractions or human contact.

My definition of a perfect day would include interacting only a handful of people, maximum. If I’m tired and stressed, I would be totally fine with spending one day of the week without speaking to anyone.

Being an introverts sometimes has a negative connotation in people’s minds. That’s totally wrong! Introverts and extroverts are just two different tribes of people that are wired in different ways. Lately I’ve been wondering why being an extrovert seems to be such a virtue in today’s culture. Probably because the interaction nowadays is inevitably more shallow. Introverts are better at making deeper connections, and that’s where the conflict arises.

WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AN INTROVERT

WHICH ONE ARE YOU, THEN?

Introversion and extroversion are the two extremes, and there’s probably both qualities in each and every one of us. The easiest definition is probably that extroverts thrive in social situations and are energized by them. Introverts are the opposite. You can have qualities of both and extroverted introverts like me enjoy social situations, but it always comes down to that. What energizes you?

“SO DO YOU HATE PEOPLE?”

Umm, no. Quite the opposite.

From my own point of view, here’s the qualities that make me an introvert and some misconceptions I have faced myself. Introverts are a very diverse group of people like any other. Still, there are similar, recognizable traits.

Yes, there is such a thing as an extroverted introvert.
I’m comfortable with doing stuff on my own. It doesn’t mean I don’t like being in company of others.

Being alone is something I need to recover from the time I am spending with other people. It’s not personal or about you. When I need to be alone, I need to be alone from everyone. When I’m with my introverted boyfriend, we can stay in the same room and not talk, and we’re totally fine with that.

E-mail over phone any time.
It is so much easier to articulate my thoughts in writing.

I’m more than fine with not talking all the time, even though we are in the same room.
I still like to be around people and talk to them.

I’m hard on myself and most introverts will know what I’m talking about.
If I mess up, I won’t let it go anytime soon, believe me. Failure is a personal experience, so it’s not likely an introvert will blame others. I feel like introverts have a habit of internal monologue, also dubbed as “self-talk” to help us make decisions. Not entirely a good thing, since it easily leads to self-criticism. If your self-confidence is lacking, read this!

I don’t mind if the party or some other social engagement is cancelled.
Sorry I’m not sorry! It doesn’t mean I hate parties, but being in a big group drains my energy quicker. Meaningful conversations with a good friend over small talk at a party, any day. For me, it’s natural to gravitate towards a small number of friends instead of many acquaintances.

At the party, I’m the person you’ll find talking to the host’s pet.
Why does it come so naturally to talk to animals? The crazy cat lady is not that crazy in my eyes! 😉

When I’m quiet
… it’s very likely I’m observing you or articulating my thoughts. A discussion is so much more than just letting air out from between your lips. If I look away, I’m not disinterested, but trying to focus.

I often catch myself thinking about the past and worrying about the future.
Then I found out that this is actually because I’m learning all the time. It also has the benefit of being a better problem-solver. Thank you, frontal lobe!

Reading Susan Cain’s Quiet was a revolution in my thinking. It was like a pat on the shoulder and being told that being more extroverted would not make all my dreams come true, contrary to what the society seems to tell me.

Fellow introverts, you should also go check out The Quiet Rev for great articles and stories. There’s also a test to determine if you have more extroverted of introverted qualities, if you’re unsure.

Any other introverts out there? What is your favorite way to recharge?

Check out also my previous post on Lessons in Life: The First 28 years.

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2 thoughts on “LESSONS IN LIFE: WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING AN INTROVERT?

  1. YES! I’m actually an INFJ, which is probably the most “extreme” kind of introvert. It didn’t make sense to me why I always feel so tired after frequent gatherings, not so much physically, but mentally and emotionally. I took the Myers-Briggs test in college and when I read the description for INFJ, things became clearer!

    Three things to help me recharge: a hot drink (coffee or tea), a small treat (usually pastry), and a good book. I try to limit my monthly social gatherings as well, but like you, I love people. One of my biggest struggles as an introvert is making small talk. I usually want to go deep into a person’s story but I understand that not everyone is like that, and it does take time to build the relationship to reach that point of vulnerability.

    As a blogger, it’s been hard for me to keep up with marketing strategies because most of them feel contrary to my personality and style. I’ve embraced the fact that I don’t have to conform and there are ways to grow our blogs organically as introverts 😀

    1. Hi Patricia and thank you for commenting! Really appreciate it 🙂

      I feel like it’s such a relief especially for us introverts to find out that is the reason why we get so exhausted dealing with people sometimes. Love your recharge tips! Small talk is a struggle for me since that is not the norm in my culture. We Finns don’t really do small talk, so it has been difficult to learn.
      For us introverts, I believe wanting to go deep in someone’s story is a strength. It means that we are open with people we trust and are interested in.

      You are so right about blog marketing! Feels so unnatural for me too. I’m sure you’ll find a way that you will be comfortable with, your blog is amazing! 🙂

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