Sunday’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.
That 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.