When you’re an introvert, it’s challenging to live in a world where extroverts set the social standards. I know this first hand because I have an introverted personality. It’s not that I don’t like people. On the contrary, I love to socialize and to hang out with friends and family, but for an introvert it can be mentally and physically draining.
If you’re an introvert, you might analyze and judge your actions because you feel as if you don’t fit into the same mold as extroverts. For example, in the past I’ve felt guilty about my actions, such as avoiding eye contact, escaping small talk or screening calls. I worry that I’m offending others or that I’m perceived as being socially awkward. However, when I learned that we as introverts have unique qualities that are just different from extroverts, I began to accept my ways of interacting with others.
If you’re like me and you occasionally feel guilty about your actions from your introverted personality traits, here are a few things you should know about introverts that make us unique, extraordinary and purely awesome people.
1. We might think we’re outsiders, but up to 50% of people are introverts.
Nobody wants to feel like an outsider. Introverts like spending time alone, but we don’t want to feel alone in our world. It’s comforting to know that up to 50% of the United States population are introverts. Thus, we as introverts are in good company. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs, actors and politicians are introverts including Mark Zuckerberg, Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton. Hence, it’s not necessary to be an extrovert to excel in fields that are typically perceived as only suitable for those with outgoing personalities.
2. While we might be quiet, it doesn’t mean we’re not great listeners.
Introverts are phenomenal listeners. In my experience, colleagues, friends and family members often approach me to express their feelings and to request assistance. Introverts carefully examine situations before speaking. When we’re ready to speak, we’ve considered all the views and alternatives. Our responses might not be lengthy, but they’re right on point. Because we vigilantly assess what’s being said and study non-verbal cues before expressing our views, we’re solid partners when solving problems, generating creative ideas, making plans and working in teams.
3. We don’t always do the happy dance, but we’re genuinely happy and appreciative.
I have an extroverted friend who will bust out in a happy dance just from hearing a favorite song. Everyone knows when she’s feeling joy because she openly demonstrates it. We as introverts are not as gregarious when we’re happy. We might even appear ungrateful and this can make us feel guilty. Understand that we have the same deep feelings of joy and appreciation of extroverts. However, we’re more reserved and show our feelings within the boundaries of our comfort zones.
4. Just because we don’t tell stories at parties, it doesn’t mean we can’t script an epic tale.
The author, John Green is quoted as saying, “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”
Green nailed it. Writing requires quiet, solitary surroundings, such as musty libraries and closed office spaces where we can conjure up deep thoughts and reflect intensely. Introverts are excellent storytellers, but we tell our stories through writing. Brilliant writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner were introverts and in some cases were considered reclusive, but it never stopped them from being thought-provoking storytellers.
5. Even though we avoid phone calls, it doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy conversations.
For introverts, making and receiving calls requires a lot of energy. Many of us screen our calls, even from friends and family, and we feel guilty about it. This action results from our need to conjure up the energy to have a conversation, especially when we’re over-stimulated from a busy day. If you can relate, accept that you just need some downtime to prepare for your calls. Understand that once you’ve mustered up enough energy, you’ll be happy to spend the time conversing.
6. We might spend time alone, but it’s not because we don’t have mind-blowing relationships.
What’s fantastic about being an introvert is we’re very comfortable spending time alone. In my own personal experience, solitude helps me to be more self-aware. Introverts can form terrific relationships because our frequent introspection supports our ability to form an accurate perception of our character, feelings and behaviors. This self-awareness helps us understand how our behaviors affect others and we become less guarded. In turn, this knowledge and understanding feeds and grows our relationships.
7. While we tend to be less social in person, we rock it online.
Introverts can have serious swagger online. Whether it’s on social media, blogging, gaming, online dating, email or other online outlets, we’re typically comfortable when using these channels. It’s just easier to be sociable online than it is face-to-face. Why? These interactions are less draining to introverts because non-verbal communication is detached, we have more time to process our thoughts and we can write our views instead of verbalizing them. In fact, introverts can outshine their extroverted counterparts online because of these dynamics.
8. We might be guilty of not joining the company softball team, but it doesn’t mean we’re not athletes.
As an introvert, when someone mentions bowling I want to hide in a corner. Many introverts tend to shy away from high-energy team sports, such as rugby, softball, basketball or even bowling. While we might not enjoy team sports, many introverts are excellent athletes. We have outstanding hand-eye coordination and we enjoy complexity. Golf, track, cycling, archery and tennis are ideal for introverts. The lesson? Stop feeling guilty about declining the company team invitation, and pursue sports that suit your introverted personality.
9. You might think we’re snobs, but we’re actually just happy being in our bubble.
Many times in my life I’ve felt guilty about being labeled as a snob or stuck-up because I’m not the most social person. However, after people get to know me, they understand that I’m just comfortable in my own bubble. As it might be more difficult to get introverts to open up, once you pop our bubbles, look out! We’ll share our deepest thoughts, tell jokes and talk up a storm. Introverts are very loyal so you might even find a best friend for life.
10. If we decline your invitation, it’s just because we need to recharge.
The energy of an introvert is comparable to our cell phone batteries. After a day of email, texting and talking our battery simply dies. We need time alone to meditate, exercise, be with nature or just think. If you’re an introvert and you feel guilty about declining an invitation, understand that you’re doing the right thing. Accept that being overstimulated can take a toll on your mind and body. If you need the time to recharge, take it.
11. We avoid big music festivals, but it doesn’t mean we don’t like concerts.
Austin, Texas is a mecca for live music and the Austin City Limits music festival is one of the most exciting music festivals in the world. When I lived in Austin, I felt guilty because I only attended this festival one time. Introverts like me don’t like crowds and attending a festival with 450,000 people is overwhelming. I learned to accept this personality trait and I no longer feel guilty about it. When I attend concerts, I don’t purchase general admission tickets. I splurge on VIP or seats up front where I know the crowd will be controlled so I can make an easy escape if I get overwhelmed.
12. Our circle of friends is small, but our relationships are meaningful.
As an introvert, do you ever feel guilty that you don’t have a large number of Facebook friends? The reason for this is introverts focus on fewer, more meaningful friendships, rather that hoarding shallow ones. Stockpiling friends doesn’t make us better and more interesting. Thus, being popular is not always something for which we need to strive. What’s important is we have a few friends that we can call at any time of night or day and get help if the need ever arises.
Featured photo credit: 162/Mitya Ku via flickr.com