What is an introvert?

You’ve heard the term and you’ve watched the Susan Cain YouTube video. But what exactly is an introvert?

Introversion and extraversion are qualities which are at opposite ends of a spectrum. Apparently 30-50% of people in the US are introverts according to a site I’ve seen. It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me – I’ve always felt different (plural of anecdote is not data). These are the common traits that I feel I can relate to:

Introspection

We focus our energy on our inner world. Spending time thinking energises us. We live inside our heads – we’re often told to stop daydreaming. The outside world sometimes seems too much, too draining and we like to retreat back into ourselves.

Need to be alone

Having alone time is an essential for many introverts. It’s a time to recharge our batteries from the draining outside world, whether that’s by reading a good book, playing video games or crafting. When the world all around is full of inane chatter, we relish the quiet and peace. Maybe you’re often asked ‘Why are you so quiet?’

Prefer few close friends

Introverts aren’t necessarily antisocial, but they may lose energy by being in busy social situations. You’d rather be with a few close friends, maybe even chat all night, than go to a huge, lively party. And that’s perfectly fine by me.

Don’t like the limelight

You’re perfectly prepared to sit back and let others be the centre of attention. You’re not afraid of the attention, but you just don’t have the desire to take centre stage.

You tend not to initiate small talk

This seems to be a popular one! You’re not the kind to share daily life details with others, be they strangers or perhaps work colleagues. You like to keep your business to yourself. You’re definitely not going to start talking about the weather just because you’re waiting next to someone in line at the supermarket checkout. Networking is a nightmare.

As introversion-extraversion is a spectrum, a person who identifies as an introvert may not show all the traits, and not all the traits to the same degree. It’s not all-or-nothing. Perhaps nobody is 100% introvert all of the time. I hate being centre of attention, but I entered a public speaking contest through choice. I know! I didn’t win, by the way. The trait I least identify with is the need to be alone. How about you?

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