Why I Adore Introverts
There are so many misconceptions about introverts and extroverts.
There are thousands of articles and numerous definitions of introversion and extroversion. I’ll sum up and Dee-ify it for you as best I can here:
Introversion and extroversion are at two opposite ends of a scale that Carl Jung used to help identify personality types in people. Introvert’s thoughts, energies and activities tend to be focused inward. Introverts “recharge” through quiet and introspection, and are generally drained or depleted by excessive external stimulation. Extroverts view the world and themselves through external cues and stimuli. Extroverts seek and process energy (and to a great extent understanding) from the world around them. They tend to recharge and glean perspective through interaction with other people and interacting in social situations. We all have bits of introvert and bits of extrovert in us that surface at different times and in different ways. Most people have a tendency towards one end of the spectrum or the other, while some people have quite even proportions of introversion and extroversion. Those people are referred to as ambiverts.
People think introverts are shy and extroverts are confident. Neither of these things is strictly true. I know introverts that are bursting with confidence, charisma, character, and credibility, and can (if they choose) have a crowd eating out of their hand. These people are sometimes referred to as performing introverts.
Extroverts are also not always confident, and can often be terribly insecure indeed. I am a quintessential extrovert; therefore, people assume whole-heartedly that I am confident. The truth is, despite having extreme trouble using my “inside voice” in just about any situation, I suffer from crippling social anxiety issues. Going to other people’s houses scares me and often ends really badly because I drink too much or talk too much (or both) because I am nervous and act like a total prat. School pick-up is a nightmare and like running a gauntlet, even though I truly and deeply adore the friends I have made (particularly those at my daughter’s school Corelli, which is populated with amazingly diverse and talented kids who come from absolutely fantastic, supportive and engaged families) I still dread it. But then, once I’m there and engaging with folks I know and have grown exceptionally fond of, it is generally a very pleasant experience indeed.
Over the years, I have engaged and nurtured relationships with many introverts and extroverts. While both have their charms, advantages and pitfalls, I want to take a bit of time to share with you some observations, as well as my deep respect and gratitude for the introverts in my life and in the world.
Introverts are generally a lot more careful about who they consider friends. Seeing as they only have a limited amount of precious energy that gets drained through interacting with other people, they tend to be picky about who they spend time and energy with and on. This is opposed to extroverts, who my exceptionally introverted husband occasionally calls “energy vampires” and who make a lot of noise and take up a lot of “space” and suck that precious energy right out of people. Sigh. Yet we’re still happily married (most of the time) after a decade… go figure.
So I’ll break it down to five reasons I personally feel inspired and energized by the introverts in my life. DISCLAIMER: These are Dee’s personal insights gleaned from her own experiences, and probably have no scientific or empirical data to support them, but this is my blog. So Pfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhfhlllllllttttt.
1) Attention to Detail
The Introverts in my life seem to have a superhuman ability to identify and remember seemingly insignificant details that end up being spectacularly important in one way or another.
I’m thinking particularly of a few people as I write this. I have a friend Ness, who is ALWAYS doing things for those around her. She picks up on the tiniest cues that the people around her need something and is the first to rally around any of us. Another fabulous introvert who I absolutely adore is Xanthe. She’s beautiful beyond belief, and humble to a fault, and has the most unreal ability to make me feel special by paying close attention to detail and when we get a chance to talk, everything is so thoughtful and relevant! Mind boggling to someone like me really. Yet I am seriously thankful for them and others like them.
Introverts seem to listen to the things I say and remember them, and pull out gems of helpfully recounting things they have noticed at the most opportune times and make people feel very special indeed.
Extroverts are exceptionally helpful as well of course, but often take more of a bull in a china shop approach to tackling things, while introverts like the ones I have mentioned here tend to take a much softer and detailed approach. Wish I could be a bit more like that. But for now, I just really appreciate all you quintessential introverts who watch quietly and unerringly from the sidelines and pick up on important details that someone like me often misses.
I don’t know if all introverts are freaking hilarious, but there are some that I know that quite literally bring me to tears of laughter. I’m thinking in particular of Erin as I write this. You don’t get much more introverted that this lady. Not only is she a pathological over-achieving thrill-seeker (she like jumps out of planes and stuff) she is totally destined for a career in stand-up comedy.
I spent a weekend with her down in Christchurch not too long ago, and she kept me in stitches with stories of night-club shenanigans and being pushed down water-slides or out of airplanes. Erin was born rather prematurely and she’s a twin. Her and her brother (who I have yet to meet) are both very introverted souls. Erin spends most of her time cruising around in a wheelchair as she’s got cerebral palsy. If you try and lay a pity party on her because of this fact, her quick wit and significant intellect will quite frankly chew you up and spit you out and you may not even know it is happening. Erin is nearly through a grueling law degree from Canterbury University. She travels extensively and regularly jumps out of things like planes or buildings in her spare time. And if you take the time to shut up and listen to her – she will tell you a story about any of these things that will make the muscles in your face hurt for days afterwards.
I once asked her if spending an entire weekend with an extrovert was kind of like going on a bender, as in, was it like having a bit of a hangover once I’d left. Apparently – it is. And I am unspeakably honored that she expends her precious introverted energies on me from time to time. There aren’t many people who can make you laugh the way this girl does.
3) Inside Voices
Even extroverts need some quiet time.
Another thing I adore about my introvert family and friends is the comfortable silence that can exist between us. I can spend hours in the same house as a seriously introverted friend without having to say a word, and I don’t feel anxious about it. The silence is comforting and just being in the same quiet calm as said introverts is rejuvenating.
4) Different Perpective
Introverts have a very different take on life, Love and the universe. While still waters can run very deep indeed, the introverts I know and Love don’t seem to have the same flair for dramatics and OTT actions and gestures as myself and the other extroverts we kick around with.
I quite liked this table I found on the Internet:
When I’m in need of advice, I find the introverted approach of “chill and think long and hard before you do anything rash or stupid” has saved my ass on many occasions.
Taking the time to talk about things with an introvert often means they’ll spend careful time considering a conundrum and generally offer a fabulously fresh perspective, and for that I am always thankful.
5) Generally Lower Maintainance
This last point is a double-edged sword.
Introverts aren’t as quick as their extroverted counterparts to put their hands up and say “what about ME!” Bearing this in mind, I’ve found that immense stretches of time can pass, years even, without any contact with my introverted kindred spirits (Russell, Tere, Sandra, Rachel to name a few).
Introverts tend to be more chill regarding spending time together, and accept online hang outs and the odd call or email as enough fuel to keep a perfectly meaningful relationship alive. Considering how busy and self-absorbed I am, this is a blessing beyond measure.
Well… as usual, I could go on and on about this but will leave it there. Trying to stick to a 1500 word maximum so I don’t bore anyone to tears and force them to stop tuning in for these meaningful meanderings of mine.
Hope everyone is well and the spirit of the holiday season is touching you in a good way and not contributing to too much stress or discontent.