Do you define yourself as an introvert or an extrovert? Do you know what these terms mean? Whilst these terms are common, everyday words I find the term introversion so misused in society and so misunderstood. I am an introvert. I have always known I am an introvert and I come from a family of strong introverts. However people often make the mistake and believe introversion to go hand in hand with shyness and social avoidance. Whilst commonly shy people are introverted, I know plenty of shy, socially awkward extroverts and plenty of people who are introverted but are not in the least bit shy or withdrawn. It really bothers me lately how misunderstood introversion is, so this is my rant to explain it. With only 20% of the world being introverted, it makes it an even smaller window of understanding for the introverts to expect. So here are some facts about what introversion truly is and what it’s not.
1. Shyness and introversion are not the same thing – shyness is experiencing feelings of fear and social avoidance. However an introverted person is not necessarily shy, but is someone who is drained by social contact. Extraverted people get their energy from sensory movements and stimulation. They feed off being around others and being around others gives them energy. Social contact works as a positive upwards spiral. Introverts on the other hand, whilst can still enjoy social situations, social situations become draining and the energy levels of an introvert work in a negative downwards spiral during social interation.This means after a long party, introverted people are drained of energy and need solitude to regard, extraverted people are feeling pretty energized from the experience.
2. Introverts do like to socialize too – Yes, social activities are enjoyable and I am not a loner. Introverted people are still regular humans who need human contact to survive. We just require it in a different way. Introverts love anything that involves deep conversation. They get energized by smaller group situations and discussing subjects that are important to them. They love to see how other people think, to connect the dots and participate in lively conversations. They tend to prefer a smaller amount of significant friends as opposed to a large amount of less close friends in a massive network. Introverts can be the life of the party, however for a shorter period of time and will rarely party ALL weekend, which brings me to my next point.
3. Introverts need downtime – The reason introverts won’t party ALL weekend but can still be the life of the party whilst they are at one, is because they need downtime. The social experience, whilst enjoyable, is also draining. They need solitude to recharge the batteries and be their bubbly selves again. They need time alone like we all need food and water. This downtime is required for full mental functioning. Introverts tend to be very reflective and this reflective period is part of how this downtime works, it’s a way for introverts to gain energy. They look within rather than outside themselves.
We live in an extraverted world and I myself as a massive introvert know how misunderstood introversion is. There is only 20% of us. Don’t pity us introverts, we are pretty happy and don’t try to force us to be social when we don’t want to be. There is nothing wrong with us other than we are drained. If you are extraverted, think how you feel if you haven’t socialized at all for a long period of time, we feel something similar when we have all the time. Stressed, anxious and in need of a recharge. Don’t dismiss us because we function differently, just accept that we do.