Hells Yeah, I'm an Introvert
I am an introvert. It’s one of the least interesting things about me.
Like being a brunette, right handed, and a mother, it’s just a quality that describes a part of me, but in no way totally defines who I am as person.
And yet, when I share this information with people (which I do, a lot), their reaction always surprises me. They’ll lean in and whisper, “I’m one too!” or say, “I would have never guessed!” almost as if I’d confessed some deep secret about myself, like being a kleptomaniac or a furry.
The reaction is not surprising really, considering that most of what we read about introverts in the news, books and blog posts* seems to imply that being one is a challenge that will haunt us personally and professionally for the rest of our lives — that “in spite of it,” we can accomplish big things. Or worse yet, in articles targeted toward extroverts, where we’re sold as some sort of mythical beast they might encounter someday, who actually might have something valuable to contribute to society. (Wow! Imagine that!)
Why are there never any posts like that written about extroverts?
- Like how to deal with the wayward extrovert who excels at making connections and yet fails to produce any return on those business relationships?
- Or how to deal with the extrovert who continually shows up in brainstorming meetings with no actual ideas to share because they’re expecting to develop them off of the energy they get from the rest of us in the room?
- Or the extrovert who never remembers anything you discussed in a meeting since they were busy tweeting and IMing contacts the entire time you were talking?
While I’ll admit that these too are generalizations, they are also real challenges I’ve encountered working with extroverts, but no one seems to want to talk about them. Since extroverts are in the majority and usually have positive connotations associated with their personality (they’re “outgoing,” “gregarious,” and “social” — even when they are actually being ” inattentive,” “chatty,” or “preoccupied”), it seems like society has decided that it’s okay to sweep those challenges under the rug.
And, I’d like to take a moment to say that this is bullshit.
Introverts are not “less than” extroverts in anyway.
I am not a deficient human that needs special care and attention to be successful. I am not afraid of other people. I am not a social leper.
What I am, is a force of nature.
Yes, I like to work in seclusion (and I produce a ton of amazing deliverables doing it). No, I am not in love with cocktail parties (but I go to them anyway and socialize my little ass off). Yes, I need a break after talking with people for many hours (but snuggling down with a good book at the end of the day instead of a good friend hardly makes me a freak).
These are simply qualities that describe how I work and live my life — as similar as saying that I like to have a cup of tea in the morning before I start my day or that I prefer to keep my desk clean.
Listen, I have nothing against people who provide advice and support to introverts. For many, this can be a helpful resource. But let’s accept that personal coaching, professional development, heck, even therapy, are great resources to help ALL of us grow as individuals and professionals – introverts, extroverts, ambiverts, whatever-vert you are.
Let’s move past the assumption that introverts are all people who are deficient in greatness. That they are all shy and quiet. That they are all antisocial.
Not only are those sweeping generalizations with a unappreciated negative connotation, they are also inaccurate.
Being an introvert is not the same thing as having a learning disability or a mental illness (I can’t tell you the number references I saw to being “diagnosed” as an introvert in researching this post. What the hell?) CEOs are introverts. Presidents of United States are introverts. Hollywood celebrities are introverts. It simply describes how we draw energy from our world. Nothin’ more.
Let me make this perfectly clear, if you are an introvert, you have absolutely nothing to apologize to society about. And you don’t ever need to whisper about it when you’re around me.
As far as this introvert is concerned, you are a unique individual who is blessed with special gifts and powers. You are an asset to society. You are someone the world needs.
YOU, my friend, are a force of nature.
*I had a dickens of a time finding even one positive pro-introvert article to hyperlink to for this blog post. Seriously, go Google “introvert” and “leadership” or “management.” Hell, Google “introvert” and anything. The results may surprise you.
NOTE: When I uploaded the video summary that goes with this post (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4LwrJPENHY), on YouTube, it automatically grouped it with videos about “similar topics” — you know, like “curing” homosexuality and assisted suicide. RI-DIC-U-LOUS.
Thanks for posting. And this comes from a newly ‘diagnosed’ AMBIVERT and former extrovert! (whispering)
An ambivert huh? Figures. I always knew you were a multitalented girl. 🙂
Me, too!! So many introverts have taught themselves to survive in an extroverted oriented world. My most obvious reaction is “Yeah, right….”
People figure if you can get up to speak and command a room, you cannot be an introvert. Wrong!
I always tell them that the classic definition of an introvert is someone who needs to periodically recharge batteries by being alone. Thus, I am an introvert.
So glad you hit this topic…so glad you continue to blog regularly…..I consider it Social Media Grad School.
You’re the best, Kay. Many thanks.
Keep on fighting the good fight out there in that big wild world.
First, what is an ambivert?
Second, love you and this article. But really I think we introverts need to realize that there’s nothing wrong with US. For the longest time, I worried that I was simply an anti-social person because I preferred to be alone, and often. But when I started traveling and attending conferences regularly and NEEDED to get away from the crowds, that’s when I began to realize that it wasn’t that I was anti-social, it was just that I needed some alone time to decompress.
Personally, as long as I know I’m not (usually) a freak, I could care less what others think 😉 Hope to see you and Kary soon so we can all hide in the corner together and be anti-social 😉
An ambivert is a little of both. 🙂
Not only are you not a freak, you’re a darn socialable fellow. I’m not sure I could keep up with your level of online interaction. Most impressive.
Hoping to see you again soon, too. It’s always nice to find someone to sit in the corner with. (Cause the corner is totally where all the cool stuff happens. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Looking forward to reading Rockstar. XXOO
I LOVE the corner! PLEASE, someone PUT ME IN THE CORNER! At family gatherings for my husband’s family (who are all extroverts) I like the in-laws who are more introverted. I love going off to a corner with a cup of coffee and talking about books and what-not with my introverted brothers-in-law….but alas, the really interesting super-introverted brother-in-law couldn’t take his super-extraverted wife and her family anymore and high-tailed it out of the family. That makes me sad, because he was the one I had the most fun with. Can anyone else relate?
The corner can be awfully awesome sometimes. For me, that’s usually where the most fun is happening. Totally can relate.
Hope some new introverts marry into your family. 🙂
Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting it out there. I constantly have to assure people I’m an introvert despite my “amazing ability to reach out to people and relate”. Meyers Briggs testing has helped many of us introverted types learn how to relate outside of our preference. Great article
Thank you for reading the post and leaving your thoughts, Denise!
Yeah, I’m an INTJ. Same deal here, I know what comes easy and what comes hard. And I know I have to do a little of both, regardless. 🙂
I would love to start an introvert club, but none of us would want to show up. Or maybe that might be freeing somehow… not wanting to show up and not having to come up with a plausible excuse. We could all stay home in blissful understanding. Who’s in?
The thing that gets me is when one’s introversion gets labeled as being snobby or aloof.
The other thing is the common need for persistent interaction or connection as evidence that you’re interested.
I can go days or months without seeing/talking to a friend and pick things up as if it were minutes. That doesn’t sync well for a lot of people unfortunately.
You’re right. The label thing happens a lot and it’s nearly always negative words like that. If you just start Googaling things about extroverts and you’re looking overtly for the tone, it’s actually kind of shocking how pervasive and condescending it is. It makes me sad that most introverts probably aren’t even aware of how unbalanced the messaging is and how much that can condition everyone’s behavior.
I’ve run into the interaction thing too. Interestingly, it never seems to be an issue with my introverted friends — we may not see each other a ton, but when we do, it’s like no time has passed. But yeah, for others, the lack of persistent contact often reads as “You don’t love me anymore!” Tricky stuff to manage.
Actually, there’s a book that came out in January of this year that has received a ton of attention that describes introverts in very positive terms, as evidenced by its title. It’s called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
The poor woman is an introvert who had to endure a book tour to promote it and barely lived to tell the tell. Check it out:
I just finished “Quiet” – it’s VERY good. Well written and interesting reading.
Sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the tip. I will check it out.
Another example of extroversion being seen as “good” and introversion being seen as “bad”:
The following excerpt is from: http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/96/10.24.96/dopamine.html “Psychologist finds dopamine linked to a personality trait and happiness”
From a series of experiments with humans and based on what was already known from animal studies, Depue has concluded that dopamine is strongly related to the trait some researchers call extraversion, but Depue and his colleagues prefer to refer to it as “positive emotionality.”
Grrrr. Like introverts don’t have dopamine responses to things. I get a super charge every time I sit down for coffee with a good friend or crack open a book I’ve been dying to read.
What a crock.
Thanks for sharing. This is a great example of the good/bad polarizing lens.
I think the blame here lies on the writer for the Cornell publication that used the term “extraversion” while Depue refers to it as “positive emotionality.” Depue makes a distinction, as spelled out here:
But this is just a term paper from an undergraduate, so even this may not mean exactly what we think it means.
You are one super smart dude, Michael. 🙂
Thanks, but it’s all due to hanging out in the corner with the other introverts, where we bump up our dopamine levels by mainlining dictionaries and encyclopedias.
Nice post Jennifer. It is important to own who you really are and therefore not feel the need to justify yourself to people. We’re all here to grow while loving being in our own skin.
A great book I can recommend is:
The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extroverted World
Thanks for the info! I will check it out.