I believe it was Tolkien who said “All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; all introverts do not hate being social.” Okay, maybe he didn’t say that last part, but he should have, along with foreseeing Dumbledore’s character and making a separate book about the epic battle that would definitely ensue between Gandalf and Dumbledore (#TeamDumbledore). Okay, I think I’m getting off tangent, but seriously, sometimes a person has to look past the surface to see the value of something. I’m not implying that all introverts have some greater hidden value that extroverts lack, but just because I prefer not to talk as often does not mean I prefer having my voice be unheard. These are factors that relate to my extroversion that I’ve been able to acknowledge and that I should keep working on, all fancily formatted and everything.
Also, as a warning, I don’t mean to identify all introverts with being, quiet, shy, homebodies, but the stereotypes are there and this post serves more to address them. Just as a quick recap, introverts are not defined by those qualities, but as individuals that prefer “solitary activities and get exhausted by social interaction. They tend to be quite sensitive to external simulation in general.” In other words, being an introvert or an extrovert is more about where you get energy from, whether it’s from an internal world or an external world.
I used to think of my avoidance to being as extroverted as my friends as a weakness. Honestly, sometimes I still do. I have tried to push myself past the point of being comfortable. Being pushed out of your comfort zone could be beneficial but in this instance, it wasn’t. I didn’t feel like I was being authentic, which in turn, was the real weakness. Thanks to the yin and yang, the universe, all the gods, one God, Beyonce, or whatever suits your fancy, balance was created in the world and it was created for a reason. For day, there is night. For extroverts, there are introverts. For rice cakes, there are pizzas. Embrace your most authentic self and the world will reward you, hopefully with a pizza.
Use it as a strength.
An introvert is known for being more of a listener than a talker, but as I previously stated, that doesn’t mean I prefer for my voice to go unheard. Now I try to see listening as a skill that can continue to be crafted to later go on and serve as a platform. This could be used for other people to not just hear me later on, but to really listen and process what I try to communicate. It’s important to remember Meryl Streep when we feel like we’re not being heard (and at all other times because, you know, it’s Meryl) and what she had to say about it:
“It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it.”
Listen to what others are telling you, then use your limited speaking time as a strength to say it once, and to make it final.
Take your quiet time, and your social time.
My new tagline for meeting people should be “Hi, I’m Laura, and though I identify with being a homebody please don’t count me out of all your social outings.” I try to not feel guilty for taking my alone time, but I have noticed that leads to less invitations out. This point is simple: Take your alone time, but not so much that you’re alone an unnecessary amount of time. Make sure that your alone time is that, and not an alternative to social anxiety. Reach out and initiate meeting with friends. Avoid the small talk and have meaningful conversations. Join clubs. Try to have something scheduled in the future to be excited about, whether it’s solo reading time or a fun concert.
Do not overthink.
This is also a simple point; alone time leads to thinking, which could lead to ruminating, which has the potential for over-analyzing. I could go into why this is bad, but I’m sure you know of its downfalls. For me, this has interfered more with my decision-making skills. Now I try to make quicker decisions and run with them. If it was the wrong decision, I can learn from it and go from there. It’s better to make the wrong choice and learn from it than to make none at all.
I’d love to hear any other tips/mantras/what-have-you that others have for being introverted, or what this is like from an extrovert’s point of view. Also, I recommend this site that does a wonderful job at pinpointing which category you fall into, along with your personality type (#TeamINFP!).
Image via Telegraph UK.