Introverts Unmasked

introvert14Sunday’s post, I’m Having an Introvert Day, must have been divinely inspired because it taught me something huge about myself and spoke to so many of you.  I love it when the universe pops something brilliant into my head.  The post is taking me on a fascinating journey.  Come with me as I unmask the Introvert.

Hi.  I’m Chris, and I’m an introvert.  Until three days ago I wouldn’t have used that word to describe me.  I thought introverts were shy people.  I’m not shy, I just have moments… okay, whole days sometimes… when I want to be left alone.

Being an introvert or extrovert has nothing to do with how shy or gregarious you are.  The difference between the two is in how you recharge your energy. 

Introverts need quiet alone time to recharge.  They spend time reading, thinking, listening to music.  Quiet time.  Alone time.  “In your own head” time.

Extroverts need external stimulation to recharge, and the more the better.  They like exciting, fast-paced adventures and boisterous crowds of people.  Story-telling.  Laughter.  Parties.

introvert17That simple definition turned my world inside out.  The more I read about introverts, the more I felt a sense of calm and homecoming.  I saw myself in the words of other introverts talking about their lives.  The light bulb came on!  I wasn’t nearly as much of a weirdo outsider as I had always thought I was.

For many years I would spend the weekend getting up at dawn to go on long walks.  I still get up before the sun because I need those silent hours before the world and all of its noise come crashing into my existence.  I learned that if “innies” don’t get that quiet time, we become nasty to live with, jittery, crabby.  So true.

The amount of quiet time we need varies on how fast our energy gets depleted.  I work from home, so my contact with others is limited to phone conference calls, emails and instant messaging, but a lot of it.  When the weekend comes, I need all day Saturday just to regroup.  On the days when I have to go into the office, which is in a large building crammed with a thousand people, it takes a lot longer.

The more stimulation we receive, the faster our energy is depleted.  Drop us into a shopping mall the week before Christmas and you might as well have an ambulance standing by because we’re going to have a melt down.  That much noise, people and activity is more than we can process.  It’s absolutely overwhelming.  I have extrovert friends who not only love the rush of big crowds but want to party after they are done shopping.  Lunacy!

The difference isn’t about shyness.  Shyness is a learned trait but being an introvert or extrovert is something set up inside of you when you were born. You can work your way out of shyness but you can’t switch from being an introvert to an extrovert.

Most people are somewhere along the Introvert – Extrovert continuum.  To go to either end of the scale wouldn’t be healthy, but most of us lean more one way or the other, and the world is made up of about 25% introverts to 75% extroverts.

In the weeks to come, I’m going to be writing more and more about introverts, celebrating our strengths and talking about how to function in a noisy, “outie” world.  I’ll be reviewing books, linking to blogs, shooting down myths and, most importantly, just having fun being me with all of you.  Coming together is fun.  I’ve found, from all the delightful comments on my first blog, that we like to chat when we can do it on our terms and in our time.  The internet is the perfect tool for that.  Let’s have more fun, but in our own way… quietly.

Chris also contributes to the new food blog Three’s Cooking, learning to cook from the heart, for the soul.

62 thoughts on “Introverts Unmasked

  1. As a fellow introvert I look forward to reading your future posts on this! I always thought I was a weirdo too until I did a Human Design thingee on the net which showed I was born to be The Hermit 🙂 and everything made sense then lol

  2. can’t wait to read your upcoming articles and posts. I’ve found over the years that my point on the Introvert/Extrovert scale has dramatically shifted. When I was younger I was super extroverted, always running, always entertaining, always partying. But now as I age, I find that I soooo much like being more introverted. I call myself a “home-body” now but thanks to you, I’m going to refer to my days and nights that I prefer to stay home as my “introversion recharge”. Love it!

  3. You have saved me a shitload of reading, Chris! – I now know that I’m ALSO an introvert. I loathe parties; I loathe gatherings of people I don’t know. This is a bit of an eye-opener … [gasp!]

  4. I’ve always known that I was an introvert, but had no idea it was defined by how we recharge. I’ve often tried to explain to my “outie” friends how it feels, and they always reply with “Yeah, but once you get out with us, you end up having fun.” This is true, but it literally drains me to do it, and they can’t understand that. Most probably think it’s just an excuse. This is very interesting information, Chris, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • There is a huge difference in the way innies and outies process information. They can’t understand because it’s so foreign to how they are hard wired. Tell them it has the same effect on them if they would be forced to sit quickly in the library for a few hours. They’d be crawling the walls but it would also drain them because they need activity to stay charged.

  5. What a great post – like the personal touch you add – and also thought you defined introversion and extroversion well – and was SO glad you noted the “Introvert – Extrovert continuum” –

    anyhow, I look forward to hearing a bit more about this – and just to add a few thoughts as you move foreword
    first: I also feel like people mask their true wiring and so many times they do not really know where they fall on this continuum – with forced social roles and all that. Also, have heard that this can change and evolve in a person’s life – and recall reading somewhere (?) that introversion increases as people age. But I do think that both factors interplay – nature and nurture –
    second: Check out ambiversion –
    third: check out some of the myths that are associated with introversion-extraversion – because I find that there is so much confusion around these “ladles” and I prefer other personality descriptors – although for a general – loose- description – I think they are fine.

  6. I wonder if I am in the wrong profession. I am an extreme introvert. As long as I have the company of a dog, I am content.
    There was a comment that you said about introvert energy gets drained around stimulus. Yes! Yesterday I subbed with kinders and by the end of the day, I was exhausted. Today I am with Freshmen, and they have lots of energy.

  7. Looking forward to reading more of your posts, as a fellow introvert…I always thought I had left introversion behind, but one one scale I was down as an Introverted iNtuitive, and your explanation of introversion not being the same as shyness (which I’m not) makes sense!

    • I told a couple of friends the other night and they about split a gut laughing. I have no idea why. I was embarrassed, confused and a little angry. I’m trying to figure out if I want to ask or just let it drop. Were they laughing because they were amazed that it took me this long to figure it out, or that they thought I was way off base? I think one of the things that’s hard about being an innie is when you don’t understand things like this.

  8. I’m also an introvert. Many people do not realize this, however, because I am generally appear comfortable in big crowds, can introduce myself to strangers, hold a conversation, etc. I don’t run screaming out of rooms full of people. The true test, in my mind, is how I recharge. Interacting with people drains me. Small talk drains me. Keeping that smile on my face is exhausting. It’s not until I’m alone again – be it in the car, at home, or in a bathroom somewhere (lol) that I can feel comfortable again and let the quiet environment build me back up.

  9. I have always labeled myself as “shy” but now I know I’m an introvert! My hubby is definitely an extrovert. When his mother was still alive we would go to her place for dinner & I would be melting into a puddle under the table because his parents & he would be all talking over each other in a lively discussion while I wanted nothing more than to run away. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my mother-in-law!!!!!! But in small doses when I was with her son! She & I spent almost a week together alone & it was perfect because we were mostly quiet together. I have finally trained my husband to talk more quietly around me – I even have a hearing test to prove to him I have hypersensitive hearing in my left ear & I use it an an excuse whenever I need him to lower his volume because it’s making me feel physically sick! I am lucky (?) enough to be disabled now & can’t work anymore because it allows me to be home alone instead of surrounded by noisy co-workers & demanding bosses who all talk too loud.

    • It’s a noisy and overwhelming world, especially in the workplace. Someone once told me of working in a place where there were no assigned desks, just a large room filled with desks. Everyday you just came in and sat down at an empty desk to do your work. Talk about feeling vulnerable and unable to control the noise!

  10. Pingback: An Introverts Passion Zone | Cee's Photography

  11. It was a great revelation for me too when I found out about it about a month back. But somehow I’ve always known how to convert all that outside noise into energy. It’s all about practising to keep focussing on things you like rather than what the world is telling you to. I’m apparently the most introvert persons you will find but I don’t mind going out in public and shopping malls. What I do mind is a lot of people talking to me all at once with a compulsion for me to hear them out, with a lot of background noise, a moment when I have to concentrate a lot to make my frequency match theirs.
    It’s a great post! 😀

      • Hi Chris! I’m wondering if you find a connection between introversion and being a “highly sensitive person”. Highly sensitive people tend to feel constricted with noise, multiple stimuli, rough touch, harsh words, being rushed etc…..

  12. Im at least 80% introvert understanding it better definitely helps and reading like minded people, i always seem shy or reserved unless ive had a few drinks then im a social bee but its always followed with lots of alone time to ‘recharge’. driving to and from work and just time to wind down is great… small talk is the worst so pointless…

  13. As an Introvert (ISTJ) I can definitely relate. I’m actually middle of the road so can survive small crowds w/I total melt down…. Larger crowds get harder, but can manage.

  14. Your post makes me wonder if there’s a third category of personality that comes across to others as an extravert but when alone needs quiet to recharge? I began as a pure introvert in my teens and early 20s but after accepting Jesus into my life I became an extravert in order to share my testimony.

  15. Food for thought here, I’ve worked hard to overcome shyness, but do still need lots of time for myself. My wife tells me I have the ability to be alone in a room full of people. Separation, isolation, things that I am comfortable with. I’ll be drifting through your ideas on the introvert – extrovert story.

    Jim

  16. Thank you for reading my blog and choosing to follow me. My blog came about because of reading S. Cain’s book Quiet and finally understanding so much about myself. I’m already working on a series of drafts – so many triggers and much to explore. Now you, by connecting with me, have given me even more resources and support.

  17. One of the reasons I like chatting on the internet is that I can leave the party at will, immediately people are tiring me.
    As for shopping malls at any time of the year, I feel the desire to let out a loud scream and run for cover.

  18. This is wonderful, Chris! As I’ve said on my ‘About’ page, I’ve finally achieved my lifelong ambition of being a hermit (more or less), and now I know I’m not just weird! Don’t mind shopping malls, though – being alone in a crowd has been a way of life. It’s interacting that’s so exhausting, even when I’m enjoying it.

  19. Hi, thanks for stopping y and following my blog. I have always been an introvert and I was in my forties when I discovered Meyers Briggs. (I am now 72) It has helped immeasurably in understanding my interactions with people I love. My partner loves to shop, when he goes into a store, he knows everyone in the store. Me, as soon as we have our groceries, I go sit in the car, lol. am I and N off the charts, in the middle elsewhere. Here is a quick test for anyone who is interested. http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

  20. Oh wow, thank you for liking curiositycafe and now I’ve found this blog and all the commenters. I have another twist on the extrovert/introvert scale, I have “social phases” where I want to connect with friends, love to go out dancing, can handle being with people for more than two hours a day, and often seek out others, make friends, etc. These can last for weeks or months. Then I have “hermit phases”, like now, when I want to be alone and quiet most of the time, can’t stand crowds, and can be with people if I can leave in two hours or less. Back when I was teaching I took the Myers-Briggs and was an ENFP. Then a few years later I took the test again, in a definite hermit phase and was a INFJ. Anyone else cycle like this over weeks or months?
    And thanks for all the comments about recharging one’s energy, that really speaks to me, it was so necessary when I taught HS, and I was lucky that my daughter had the same need for recharging by being quiet. I am looking forward to exploring your site many more times, and journying with you as you explore the hermit life. Right now I am living on a sailboat in Mexico, and while we’re sailing for months I get lots of alone time while on watch, or snorkeling, kayaking, reading. Even in the marina, like now, I can hide out down below in the cabin for hours.
    ps I am commenting using the rainbowspinnaker blog because I have to wait until next summer to “unhitch” curiositycafe and create a separate blog account.

    • And I am so glad you found my blog. I’m having great fun with it, as you can probably guess.

      It will be interesting to pose your question to the whole group to see how they react. I bet you’ll be in the minority but not the only one. In my life, if my work environment forces me to be extrovert for long periods at a time, it becomes easier to be that, but as soon as I revert back to my own self, I go into my hermit phase. I don’t know how much I cycle, though. I think for me it’s more a matter of surviving in whatever environment I find myself in.

  21. Just browsing your blog and came across this post. As a public speaker (and even former local politician), I would have never believed I was an introvert, but, there you have it, or here I am, an introvert.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain (especially back in my dating youth) that “I’m okay,” or “We’re okay, I still like you. But the other important parts of my life–reading, writing, drawing, painting, photography–are solitary, not group activities, so (Greta Garbo like) I need to be alone.” I once had an almost-fiance, while bugging me to keep him company while he drove to Santa Fe, ask me, “So, you’d rather stay home alone? Don’t you ever want some company? Don’t you ever get lonely?” I answered that I only felt lonely when I didn’t get time alone to read, write, draw, etc. While I’ve always known this to be true, I didn’t realize until just now what I was saying, namely, without time alone I lose touch with my life, and I get lonely for me. Looking back, it makes sense now that the more public my life became, the more time alone I seemed to need.

    Wow. You just never know when or where you’ll stumble across a bit of insight. Glad I found this post.

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