Ever since the publication of Quiet by Susan Cane, introverts have been claiming their personality type with pride instead of apology. Introverts are the quiet kids (mostly) who shrink from human interaction (sort of) and are often misunderstood (except by fellow introverts).
There is no cookie-cutter introvert. Let me start with that.
People are surprised when I tell them I’m an introvert. People assume that hilarious + opinionated + loud + lots of acquaintances = extrovert. I’m an introvert, but I don’t fit “the mold.” Honestly, who fits “a mold”?
Introverts, as a general rule:
- Are drained by human interaction. While extroverts gain energy from the presence of other people, human company exhausts the introvert. This doesn’t mean we hate people. We like interacting with those we like and love, but we can only do it for so long before needed to go away and recharge.
- Hate small talk. It establishes no deep connections and conveys no real opinions or feelings. What’s the point? For some, it’s fun, but for us it’s exhausting and awkward. And fake.
- Prefer quiet fun. We have fun reading, listening to music, taking walks, exercising alone, making art, drinking tea and staring out a window, or parties with close friends who share common interests. The most annoying thing you can do to an introvert is to tell them to “get out more” and “meet people” and “start living life.” We’re living quite happily, thank you, but in our own way.
- Adopt a “persona.” This doesn’t mean we’re fake or duplicitous. We live in a world where extrovert behavior is considered the healthy norm, and we figured out during childhood that if we’re going to get along with people, we need to act like extroverts. So we develop an extroverted version of ourselves in order to communicate.
- Are excellent listeners. We know you need to talk, and we know a listening ear is all you need to feel better.
- Keep their pain to themselves. This isn’t because we don’t trust people, necessarily. We don’t want to burden people with our problems. See point 5…we’re burdened with everyone else’s. We don’t want to add to the general tension of our friend circle, so we keep it in and put a smile on top.
And that’s just the surface. There’s a whole study of the differences between extroverts and introverts and it’s completely fascinating. I’ll reach the end of Quiet over the next few weeks. Who knows what else I’ll find?