02 January 2022

02/01, World Introvert Day - what makes an introvert

 Happy World Introvert Day!

A hand holding a cup. Text on the cup says busy introverting. 

It might seem weird that someone blogging and active on social media, hence exposing at least parts of their life on life, can be described as an introvert - you'd probably assume that an introvert is simply that antisocial person, who stays in their own bubble and doesn't share anything with anyone.

While partially true, the term "introvert" along with its opposite of "extrovert" has been devised by psychologist Carl Jung in the 1920s, and refers more to the way we use our energy. While extroverts get their energy from social contacts, introverts would recharge through time alone with their minds.

If you're not really familiar with either term and might only just be looking to define yourself, here are some general behaviour patterns common for introverts:
  • Needing quiet space to concentrate
  • Taking time making decisions
  • Often escaping into their imagination, daydreaming
  • Feeling tired and overwhelmed by large social gatherings
  • Not having a large social circle, but staying very close to those you do befriend
  • Feeling comfortable being alone for longer periods 
  • Preference to write rather than talk
  • Preference to work alone rather than with a group

That feeling of dread when you have to make or take the phone call - sounds familiar? I'm terrible for it! I'm fine talking to my husband, parents, and maybe a couple of friends. And I can do school office and GP appointments. Otherwise please text me or send an email, thanks. If I can sort something out online rather than on the phone, trust me to do it! And if not, I have to psych myself up before making that phone call and will postpone it as long as possible. Took me a week to make a hospital appointment for a dental referral last time, although that had the fear of dentist added to it to be fair.

Introverts tend to be a part of a wider spectrum, and often can have some extroverted traits. Like I hate meeting new people and will not go out seeking friendship myself, but once I'm familiar with someone I sometimes feel like a bit of an extrovert comes out, I open up and might talk a lot. And I like busy places, will take a big loud city over the quiet countryside any time!

In 2011, a study found there are four basic types of introverts: social, thinking, anxious, and inhibited. There are also varieties according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which outlines characteristics of 16 personality types -  you can find various online tests based on their theory, that can help you find out more about your own type. According to the one I did and found crazily accurate, I'm an INFT-P personality, the "Turbulent Mediator" - quiet, often lost in imagination, looking for a fulfilling career that I'd genuinely love, sometimes lonely and isolated as struggling to reach out to people. Read HERE and you'll get a pretty good insight into me I'd say.

One misconception that most people have is that all introverts are shy. In most cases they just prefer peace and quiet, small groups over crowds, and simply enjoy the alone time to recharge. There are, however, the "anxious introverts" mentioned above, who feel awkward and shy around people - I suppose that would be me then. I'm fine with basic interactions, like shops, cafes, etc, and with people I'm already familiar with, but try to introduce me to a new crowd and I'll be freaking out. Invite me to a party, I'll just hang out with people I already know. 

Also, although it might sound strange, it can get lonely. While as a Mediator type I value the friendships I do have, and like for them to be long-lasting and meaningful with a handful of people rather than having a large social circle to hang out with, I also tend to withdraw and often find it hard to reach out to people, especially after a longer break in contact. 

To conclude - introversion is a really broad subject. There are different types of introverted personalities, with varying needs and traits. It doesn't always equal shyness, although it can, and while we like being alone we still can be upset by the loneliness. 

That's just briefly touching on the main idea - for more visit, for example, https://www.healthline.com/health/what-is-an-introvert, where you can also find links to some studies about different types of introverts, or learn more about the difference between introversion, shyness and social anxiety. To find your own personality type, check out https://www.16personalities.com/ for super accurate (at least for me) analysis.

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