Growing up Introvert

Introverts seem to be in the “news” quite a bit lately. I’ve been reading more and more about the introvert/extrovert dynamic, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see this subject getting attention! I especially love that this discussion is happening across a broad array of platforms. From the New York Times to some of my favorite blogs, the word is getting out – introverts aren’t weird, we’re just not extroverts (smile).

Introvert

Yep, I said “we.” In comparison to my closest family (i.e., parents and sibling), I am outgoing, sociable, and adventurous. As much as I love those identifiers, none of them make me an extrovert. The difference between my family and I is that I have learned to work the system. I push my limits as far as possible, determined to make my box bigger every chance I get. I attribute this primarily to a mix of a small amount of sibling rivalry (I’m the baby after all) and a huge amount of wanderlust.

One of the perks to loving to be alone is that it allows time for free reign imagination. I wanted to go to Paris from the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower in a magazine (well before I knew what Paris really was). When I had the opportunity to visit in high school, you better believe I did everything necessary to get on that plane. But oh man, that trip almost killed me! It was a guided group tour in March. I’d never been on a plane before, much less an 8-hour transatlantic flight! I had no concept of jet lag or how to handle it, and worse yet, I had no room for escape! I was in a hotel room with two other girls and even the bathroom wasn’t really a sanctuary. I don’t think I spoke to anyone for a solid week when I returned (smile). But after my recovery, the wanderlust that was a small spark before ignited into a full on inferno. I knew I would have to make some adjustments to my travel plans, but I was determined to see the world and not just as a tourist but as a traveler.

Introvert, travel

 

It wasn’t until college that I heard the word “introvert” after my first brush with the Myers-Briggs personality test. (Oh Psychology 101, you were worth it just for that one lesson!) I remember being an odd mix of tears and giggles reading those results – I finally had a name for my weird little personality – a name I’ve embraced ever since. (If you’re curious, I’ve posted results from on online version of the personality test here.)

After my personality “discovery,” I did all I could to learn about the different personality types. Of course no one is one thing 100% of the time; we’re all a beautiful mix of personality that no test is able to put into a neat little box – which is a wonderful thing (smile). I found it helpful, however, to understand my dominant personality traits and how those best mixed with society. I can’t tell you how many times being able to explain it to someone else has helped find peace in a relationship – personal and professional (maybe even more so professional).

Introverts aren’t necessarily shy or even quiet (at least not all the time). We do, however, appreciate alone time. I can give a speech to a crowded auditorium, mingle in a crowd, or lead a group tour, but at the end of the day it’s essential that I have time to regroup and recharge. I have it in me to be who I need to be on those occasions that call for a bit more social effort, but only because I love myself enough to know that it’s perfectly okay to spend nights and/or weekends home alone with my kitties and a good book. It’s taken quite a few years and some interesting experiences to finally find comfort in who I am, but I feel like I’m making great progress (smile).

So for all the “shy,” “quiet,” aka “introverted” people out there that prefer an afternoon reading or just being on your own doing your thing, don’t ever feel guilty for being who you are. The world is a wonderful place filled with all sorts of personalities and no one is better than any of the others. Embrace who you are and enjoy life! We’re all learning, and I think that’s a lovely thing (smile).

If you’ve never tried one of these personality tests before, you can try an online version of the Myers-Briggs test here. Have fun!

10 thoughts on “Growing up Introvert

  1. I was so happy when I finally learned that I’m an introvert and not “shy” or “weird” or any of those other things just because I don’t like being out socializing all the time. Like you I can do all the socializing when it’s called for but would bet I’m one of the first people in the room checking my watch to see if it would be ok to take my leave. 🙂
    People always try to get me to come out and think I must be lonely spending a Friday night in by myself so it’s taken me a long time to convince them that I’m perfectly content, and look forward to, having nights like that to myself.
    I found the Myers-Briggs test very enlightening too. I’ll have to dig up what my personality type is again. I remember we took the test when I was a teacher and I discovered I was the exact opposite to the two other teachers I was going to be teaching with the next year. Made for some interesting planning sessions! 🙂

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    • Yes – exactly! We did a similar personality test at work and it was immensely helpful in understanding our different styles – and one another. There have been quite a few critics lately going on about the unfairness of the Myers-Briggs test, but I still think it’s a good way to establish a baseline. No one fits in a perfect box, but I think there’s room for generalizations. It’s a pet topic between myself and my co-worker who handles our HR 🙂
      I’m just glad that society is discussing these topics and that introverts are being recognized as a subset outside of shy or weird. Hopefully it’s particularly helpful for kids these days who have so much more “social” thrown at them! Have you read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain?

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  2. Pingback: Always Be Nice To Your Neighbors | PonderTheIrrelevant

    • Thanks for sharing the video – I’m definitely going to check it out! I really enjoy what she has to say and all that I feel she’s doing to spread awareness for the cause (so to speak). If you ever get a chance to read Quiet, I found it very worthwhile. I found myself nodding along in several places and certainly felt inspired 🙂

      P.S. I never mind extra comments – especially when they contain such great info!

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  3. Great post!!! I’m an introvert too, but I will take the online test, when I’m finished typing here. This Susan Cain … she said it so well, it could have been myself saying that.

    Guess I’ve learnt to work the system too. I used to be quite comfortable giving tours, talking to groups … even enjoyed it because I knew my stuff AND, like you said, I knew it would soon be over and I’d be at home with myself and cat 🙂

    I watched one of those TED videos about this subject a while back. Will look and see if I can find the link — it was so damned good! Some woman speaking…

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