I Think I Am An Introvert – Am I?

The concept of being an introvert is traditionally one of a person being withdrawn, shy, and unable to be a team player. As a result, the contributions made by introverts may often be overlooked and dismissed, since they may struggle with an assertion in a group context. However, these assumptions may be far from the truth.

Our contemporary society seems to emphasize “get out there and show what you’ve got”. This can make it tough for introverts to find their niche, as they could be side-lined and perceived as lacking drive and even intelligence as they remain on the fringes of a group. They tend to hold back in groups which makes it possible for people to dismiss them as “aloof”, “reserved” or “shy”.

While there are many interpretations of being an introvert or extrovert, the overarching distinction is the manner in which a person is energised. Introverts are energized from time alone rather than being with others. On the other hand, extroverts are energised by being with people. This tendency means that the introvert will move into a social circle and then withdraw to re-energise when feeling emotionally tired, while the extrovert will be alone, feel emotionally tired, and then need to interact with people to re-energise.

The amount of ‘noise’ a person makes is not indicative of whether they are an introvert or extravert. This means that not all introverts are shy, and not all extroverts are outgoing. Shyness refers to social reticence. Introverts may seem shy when they are actually busy reflecting. The introvert is not withdrawing from interaction to avoid people, but out of the need to focus internally and re-energise.

Sometimes an extravert can learn to become an introvert. For example, if a person matures in an environment where they learn to keep quiet to avoid conflict, they develop and learn the behaviour of an introvert to survive. This inner conflict of being an extravert, while having to behave like an introvert, can cause much inner tension and anxiety.

What does it mean to be an introvert? Here are some common qualities introverted people share:

1. You enjoy alone time: A few nights at home is not going to throw an introvert off their game. Research suggests that introverts see improvements in their moods and energy levels after quality alone time. Some Psychologists also believe that enjoying solitude is a life skill, because we all have times when we need to feel comfortable that we are going to be alone.

2. You usually think before you speak: Everyone knows somebody who doesn’t talk much but manages to cut right to the heart of the matter every time they do. Psychologists say that introverts process information internally and privately and they take as much time as they need before they share their thoughts with others.

3. You prefer one-on-one interactions: Although needing ‘alone’ time, introverts crave connection too, they just crave it differently say some Psychologists. Introverts would rather spend quality time with one-on-one communication or in small groups, rather than interact with a lot of people at once. On the other hand, extroverts get bored in quieter settings where there are limited opportunities to interact.

When you are raised in a culture that puts a premium on qualities like boldness, it can be easy, if you are an introvert, to start feeling like there is something wrong with you. Psychologists suggest that owning your introversion and not apologizing for it is the key to self-acceptance.

Despite their differences, extroverts and introverts are more than capable of forming successful friendships or partnerships with one another, but compromise and communication are key. The more transparent everything is, the more solid the relationship will be.

If you feel you are an introvert and the challenges in life make you feel down, talk to a Psychologist to learn new life skills that can assist you to adjust to certain situations. Laurian Ward specialises in counselling that is unique to your needs.