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).
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.
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!