Often to the concern of others, I as an introvert, relish, and indeed require my ‘alone time’. I enjoy browsing shops on my own, sitting with a coffee and even travelling abroad on my own.
Fellow loners get it. But to the social butterflies who cannot imagine anything worse, I feel I have to justify myself, when they look horrified, or worse pityingly when I regale them with stories of my latest solo venture.
But guess what, we are all different. Just because somebody is alone, does not mean they are lonely. Loneliness is a feeling , being alone is an action. Please do not presume how I am feeling because of my actions.
It all comes down to whether you’re an extrovert or an introvert.
The key difference is how we gain our energy.
An extrovert gains energy from interacting with others. Whereas an introvert, although they can enjoy social situations, is ultimately drained by social settings and needs time afterwards to recharge their batteries.
Introverts tend to be happiest when they are absorbed in a book, cooking a meal, writing ideas down or working on a creative project. Something which gives them time to think and be inside their heads. They tend to be daydreamers and have a million thoughts going on in their minds at any time.
Extroverts on the other hand thrive off working with others, socialising in groups and discussing ideas verbally.
I didn’t used to know much about being an introvert. I just thought it was another word for shy or socially awkward, and while I can be both of these, being an introvert encompasses so much more.
You can take a test to help you figure out what your personality type is. I am type INFP which stands for Introvert, INtuitive, Feeling and Perceiving. In summary I’m highly sensitive, empathetic and my actions are driven by intuition and emotions over logic. This for me is definitely true, I rarely consider the logical outcome of my actions and instead make decisions based on my gut feelings.
This test and the comprehensive explanation helped me to understand myself better. More importantly it validated my behaviour, and made me realise that I don’t have to fit in with other peoples ideas of ‘normal’. That spending time alone is okay. I don’t need to justify it to other people just because they don’t get it. And I certainly don’t need to change.
An extrovert may not understand what it is introverts get from being alone. As an introvert, I simply need my solo time. One reason is that I need time to enter my inner mind. I spend an awful lot of time ‘inside my head’ and I need time for this. Although I do enjoy the company of (some) others, after a while I need to retreat and be alone.
Each introvert is different. Some don’t like to go out at all, others do enjoy going out and experiencing different places and situations. But rarely in a large group, Introverts much prefer having an intimate conversation with one or two close companions.
Introverts tend to dread any kind of team building activity. I hate them so much to the point I panic and get worked up about participating. I resent workplaces when they force such activities upon me.
Well, it is a label. And of course nobody is 100% introvert or extrovert, most are somewhere on a sliding scale. Human beings are complex and act differently in different situations with different people. But although it isn’t helpful to categorise yourself as one or the other, being aware of which you lean towards can help you to understand your actions and behaviour.
After all, we live in a world which over the last few decades has been much easier for extroverts to succeed, particularly in the workplace. However with the growth of technology, and a focus on spirituality and mindfulness this is changing.
Finally the world is starting to realise that being introverted isn’t so bad after all…
A lot of people don’t understand introverts. For example more than once I’ve been told I can come across as rude and stand offish when people first meet me, they are then surprised when they get to know me and realise I’m actually the complete opposite. I was really hurt and shocked when I was first told that as I don’t perceive myself in that way, but upon reflection it is my being unable/unwilling to open up instantly, that can make me appear slightly hostile and cold when people first meet me.
I also over think and over analyse absolutely everything. I will pick up something somebody has said, and go over every possible meaning in my mind. I am highly sensitive and this leads to me often working myself up over things, and jumping to the worst possible conclusions.
I don’t do small talk. If I don’t feel I have something of value to add to a conversation I’d rather stay quiet. I don’t see the benefit in talking for the sake of talking. Even when I try it really doesn’t come naturally. Others can find this incredibly awkward, and either talk simply to fill the silence or make their excuses and leave.
Through being very perceptive and sensitive, this can translate to anxiety. I worry about situations before they have happened. I worry about outcomes that might and will never happen.
I struggle to verbalise my thoughts. I much prefer communication about deeper more meaningful subjects through writing over speaking. I find getting my thoughts out on paper a lot easier than talking about them. I detest speaking on the phone to the extent that I very rarely, if ever answer a phone call. I usually just ignore it or hang up. Even with close friends and family I’d much rather text or e-mail them than call. So next time your call isn’t returned don’t jump to the wrong conclusions- maybe the person you’re calling just hates speaking over the phone.
I hate working in a team, personally I find the loudest person usually has the worst ideas anyway. I see brainstorming as time wasting, and would rather be sitting down getting on with a task than talking about it and getting nowhere.
Now of course not every introvert is this way. This is just my personal take on it.
Introverts have a lot to offer the world. We may not shout about it but introverts are generally very altruistic, creative and compassionate. Obviously not all introverts are the same, it depends on the individual. But generally we’re great listeners, deep thinkers and innovative creators.
It is good to have an awareness of self. I would start off by taking a test and go from there. There’s plenty of research out there to read up on. Don’t let being an introvert define you but don’t let it hold you back either.
Any other introverts out there? What tips can you give?
Hi, I live and work in Dubai. I enjoy getting out and about and seeing what Dubai has to offer, travelling in my holidays and spare time – prepare for blog posts about this, and cooking vegetarian recipes. I am passionate about travel and animals.