Happy World Introvert Day! For those not familiar:
World Introvert Day is held on 2 January each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to better understand and appreciate introverts. The first World Introvert Day was held in 2011. –World Introvert Day Online
I’m an introvert through and through, something that I receive wildly differing reactions to when I discuss it. The reason for this is simply a misunderstanding of what introversion and extroversion are, so I thought I’d do up a post to provide those who might be confused with some clarification.
Introversion and Extroversion are personality classifications, with most people falling into one or the other. (However it should be noted that when measured on a scale some will fall into a third middle ground classification. For the sake of simplicity I won’t get into the third.)
For me the easiest way to understand introversion and extroversion is in the way that each gains and losses energy. As an introvert I find social situations to be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I leave them exhausted and the only way to recharge is with solitary time. Alternately many of my extrovert friends are physically, mentally, and emotionally charged by social interactions. They thrive in those situations, and many find solitary time to be draining.
Extroversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. These words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language. –The Myers & Briggs Foundation
Typically in social situations introverts prefer to sit on the sidelines and observe the action, while extroverts prefer to be immersed, surrounded, and at the centre of it. There are of course other factors that affect someones willingness to engage, such as shyness, anxiety, or sensory sensitivity. There is a common misconception that shyness and introversion go hand in hand, but this is simply not the case. A person can be deeply drawn to social interaction, but too shy to engage, making them feel unfulfilled. Reversely, many introverts do not suffer from shyness and can easily engage socially. It is simply that the experience uses up their energy rather than restoring it.
More simply, introversion and extroversion can be summed up as inward versus outward force.
[Introverted] people are more introspective, attentive to internal thoughts, while wilder beings are driven by sights and sounds—they crave sensory stimulation. –Psychology Today
I consider myself to be an introvert who is not shy. I do not have trouble speaking with new people or making small talk. But I live more inside my head than out, and identify on the Myers-Briggs scale as INFJ. I have high sensory processing sensitivity (HSP), and anxiety. As such my limit for social interaction is lower than most non-HSP introverts, sapping my energy more quickly. And my anxiety leads to above average avoidance behaviour when it comes to social interaction. There are also correlations between my sensory sensitivity and my anxiety, but I won’t get into that!
For those interested in a good read that looks more closely at introversion, I highly recommend the book The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling. It is a humourous and truthful account of what it’s like to live an introverted life.
I also recommend reading more about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Personality Test. It tells you a lot about what the varying personality types mean, and is quite interesting to try and determine where you fall.
Here’s a few links for those interested in taking some tests:
MBTI Personality Test (not exact, but no free versions are!)