In the past year, I’ve had numerous conversations with individuals on what it means to be an introvert.
Here’s what people think an introverted individual is like:
- Shy, quiet, reserved
- Soft spoken
- Socially awkward
- Prefers their own company to being with others
- Feels drained after being with people
- Likes to do things alone when at work
- Prefers sending a text message or email to picking up the phone
- Avoids loud, noisy people and places
- Tends to say little in group discussions (but likes to take lots of notes)
- A follower rather than a leader
- Detail-oriented, analytical
- Tends to overthink and fall into the “analysis paralysis” trap
- Cautious, conservative, doesn’t like taking risks
- Intelligent, a thinker
I’m a strong introvert myself, and all of the above apply or have applied to me, although I have learned to adjust myself to situations as required. For instance, I enjoy meeting people and making connections at networking events, something that used to intimidate me.
After reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’ Stop Talking, I now like to think of introversion as an energy type. In general, introverts feel energetically drained when in high-stimulation environments (e.g. loud music or background noise, lots of people talking), and extroverts thrive on it.
It’s not about which is better or worse. It’s about being aware of your natural preferences, while doing your best not to judge yourself (Why am I so quiet? Why can’t I be more like so-and-so who’s gregarious and seems to know everyone?) or others.
It’s also about honouring your divine wiring — acknowledging the gift in what makes you tick, and actively seeking opportunities to serve others by being in tune with how you best communicate and function.