By Zainub Jada
INTROVERT: A shy, reticent person
INTROVERSION: Personality type
A person who prefers calm environments, limits social engagement or embraces a greater than average preference for solitude.
WHAT IS AN INTROVERTED PERSON LIKE?
An introvert is a person with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, which means that they feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas rather than what’s happening externally. They enjoy spending time with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.
When you hear the word introvert, you might think of someone who’s shy or quiet and prefers to be alone. While that may be true for some introverts, there’s much more to this personality type.
Most people are not purely introverted or purely extroverted. They fall somewhere in the middle, with characteristics of both. Some characteristics may be stronger, which is why people may self-identify as an introvert or extrovert.
TYPES OF INTROVERTS
Do you assume that you know who is an introvert and who isn’t? While you might think of an introvert as a shy wallflower that prefers to stay home alone instead of socializing, introverts can come in many types with a wide variety of characteristics.
Being an introvert isn’t an all-or-nothing stamp on your personality. Psychologists think of introverts as falling somewhere on a scale. Some people are more introverted than others. Introverts usually have a few extroverted traits mixed in with their introverted ones and vice versa. There is a wide range of ways to be an introvert.
One study shows that introverts tend to fall into one of four subtypes:
- Social introverts — This is the “classic” type of introvert. Social introverts like small groups and quiet settings overcrowd.
- Thinking introverts — People in this group are daydreamers. They spend a lot of time in their thoughts and tend to have creative imaginations.
- Anxious introverts — They seek out alone time not just because they like it but also because they often feel awkward or shy around people.
- Restrained/inhibited introverts — These introverts think before they act. They aren’t likely to make an impulse decision. Typically, they take longer to take action.
Your introverted ways may change over time and in different settings, too. You’re not likely to swing from introvert to extrovert. But it’s possible you could become more or less introverted, depending on what’s going on in your life.
PERSONALITY TRAITS OF AN INTROVERT
- Being around lots of people drains your energy
- You enjoy solitude
- You have a small group of close friends
- People often describe you as quiet and may find it challenging to get to know you.
- Too much stimulation leaves you feeling distracted and unfocused
- You are very self-aware
- You like to learn by watching
- You are drawn to jobs that involve independence
INTROVERSION VERSUS SHYNESS
Many people think of introverts as shy, but the two aren’t linked. Introversion is a personality type, while shyness is an emotion.
Shy people tend to feel awkward or uncomfortable when they’re in social situations, especially around strangers. They may feel so nervous; they become sweaty. Their heart may beat quicker, and they may get a stomach-ache. They may be inclined to skip social events because they don’t like the negative feelings that take over their thoughts and bodies when they go to parties or other activities.
Introverted people also prefer to skip social events, but it’s because they feel more energized or comfortable doing things on their own or with one or two other people. Introverts don’t choose to skip social events because they have strong adverse reactions to larger gatherings, the way that shy people do; they prefer being alone or in very small groups.
MYTHS ABOUT INTROVERTS
- One common myth about introverts is that they’re shy. Some introverts may be shy, but this is not the case for all introverts.
- Introverts are unfriendly. Being an introvert doesn’t affect how friendly you may be. Some people may think that introverts are aloof because they don’t tend to have large groups of friends, and they may reflect on situations quietly rather than joining in on conversations at gatherings.
- Introverts can’t be leaders. Although people may think of an extroverted personality when they imagine a leader, introverts have the skills to be bosses and leaders, too. Some of their qualities make them effective leaders: They listen to their employees’ ideas, they can stay focused on long-term goals, and they may seem less threatening so that people may accept them in their roles.
- It’s hard to get to know introverts. Introverts prefer to have deep friendships with only a handful of people. They may not open up to everyone who wants to small-talk, but the people they’re close with know them very well and develop genuine friendships with them.
THE GIFT OF BEING AN INTROVERT
Many introverts grow up feeling out of place. We live in a fast, noisy world that sees chattiness as a virtue. Many introverts worry from a young age that something is wrong with them.
But being an introvert is a gift.
The world needs people who go deeper, think before they act, and look at things in new ways.
The world has a place for people who value meaningful relationships over meaningless small talk.
And the world is ready for thoughtful, contemplative people who bring calm and wisdom to a room.
These are traits that introverts offer. And, precisely because the world has so many extroverts, you will find that people appreciate you and value you when you step into these traits and own them.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON
When you live a life that complements your nature, you unleash incredible stores of energy.
On the other hand, when you spend too much time fighting your nature, the opposite happens, and you end up depleting yourself. If you’re an introvert who has been stuffing your schedule full of social events and leaving no time for solitude, you won’t feel or function at your best. If you’re an extrovert whose career forces you to be alone for long periods, you’re probably not living your best life. Working with your temperament rather than fighting against it will ultimately make you happier, more productive, and more present for the people in your life.
Introversion is a personality trait. Introverts are typically reflective, quiet, and reserved.
Being an introvert is perfectly normal. Despite what your peers, teachers, and even parents may have told you, being an introvert doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you.
It is important to note that one personality type is not better or worse than another. Extroversion is on the opposite end of the spectrum to introversion. Introverts approach, react and interact with the world differently than extroverts do.