I didn’t really discover I was an introvert until I hit my 40s.
I know. Late bloomer. I guess I just considered myself shy and perhaps lacking a huge desire to “socialize.” Today, I am proud to announce that I am a hardcore introvert and I’m betting either you are too or you know one or two introverts yourself.
If I run into you at the store and you want to strike up a conversation, I apologize ahead of time. I mean, I am genuinely happy to greet you, but I’m not thrilled about carrying on a conversation. Also, if we are on the elevator heading up 10 floors, just so you know, I prefer pin-drop quiet. It’s not that I’m antisocial. I just prefer quiet over noise and many times I simply prefer to converse with myself up in my own head.
As an introvert and an advocate for others in the same category, I want to share 11 characteristics of introverts that I consider important for humanity to understand, because we really just want to be understood and not prompted to change. I think we’re pretty amazing just the way we are!
1. I don’t mind being shy.
When you introduce me to your friend and add, “Oh, she’s shy,” I don’t take it personal. I am a bit shy and I prefer quiet. When I enter a room full of people mingling, chatting, laughing, etc., I feel an internal shift begin to happen and if I’m not careful, my energy will drain from me like a vampire drains its victims. It’s not that I’m afraid. I am simply out of my comfort zone.
2. I’m really okay.
I would like to get paid $100 for each time I’m asked, “Are you okay?” As an introvert, I’m caught up in my head much of the time. I’m thinking. Pondering. Contemplating. Sometimes I’m just enjoying the present moments as they come in meditative appreciation. I do not need constant noise or chit chat. So I’m often asked, “Are you okay?” because silence can be taken for being sad, angry or socially inept. I assure you though, that I am quite fine. Most of the time.
3. I’m not stuck up or a snob.
I remember back in my freshman year of college meeting my fellow dorm residents in the commons area. We had to go around and introduce ourselves and, of course, mingle. I spoke my name and went about my business, bolting the first chance I got. Later that year I ended up rooming with a girl who became my best friend. She later let me know that at that first meeting she thought I was a snob due to my lack of mingling. I was taken back because I’m the furthest thing from a snob, yet when you are not extroverted and keep to yourself, sometimes you get taken that way. Don’t be too quick to judge. You may be wrong.
4. I actually like to socialize.
It’s true, but only in small groups where I pretty much know everyone. I like to have fun, laugh, converse about all sorts of things, and just feel the vibe of a good time with company, but when it’s a large group or people I don’t know, I feel uneasy. I tend to be quiet. All the noise and carrying on actually starts sucking the energy right out of me. It used to be that I would get a headache when I had to attend functions with lots of people, but through the years I’ve learned how to protect my energy, put a smile on, and chit chat with the best of them—for a little while anyway. At my first chance to exit the shebang, I’m out.
5. I need quiet, alone time.
Take no offense when I run off to the bat cave (garage) or tend to yard work to have some alone time. Or ignore your phone call because you tend to talk for far too long about so many things. I used to really beat myself up about this one. I like to be alone more than most people. I like to sit out on the deck and just stare off into space. I like to lie in bed at night and just lie there in the dark. It’s quiet. Serene. I’m either up in my head or meditating. You know. Keeping the thought life managed. I can’t help it. It’s how I’m wired.
6. Networking makes me uneasy.
As a business owner, networking is essential, but to “work the net” with just the goal of advancing my biz seems awkward to me. I’m passionate about my services, but I don’t want to feel like I’m out there in the mix of the networking world with sales pitches up my sleeve. I crave raw and real relationships, whether it’s biz or personal.
7. Your chatter depletes my energy.
It’s not that I don’t want to hear about the drama going on in your life, but I’m such a good listener that I cannot help but let you go on and on. At some point I would love to say, “Okay! Okay! Enough!” but that’s not very nice now, is it? Just so you know, sometimes you suck the good energy right out of me and hey, I’m your friend, so I want to be here for you, but just know that I must take a time-out, find some peace and quiet, and recharge my battery. Introverts tend to listen quite well, have a good bit of empathy, can encourage like a boss, but it all leaves them feeling exhausted, so do let us have our quiet time to reboot.
8. I probably won’t pick up when you call.
As an introvert, talking into a piece of technology makes me cringe. If you tend to want to carry on long conversations, I might just ignore your phone call and respond later with a text saying, “Oh geez, sorry I missed your call. Maybe we can get together sometime.” That’s code for, “Please don’t call me back, but let’s catch up in person sometime.”
9. There is always chit chat going on in my mind.
As my girlfriend comes into the room 10 minutes after her show has started and asks, “What did I miss?” Um. I have no idea. I was simply staring at the screen while listening to the chit chat going on in my head. I was pondering the deep things in life. Reminiscing. Creating. Dreaming. As an introvert, there is always a monologue going on in my brain, except for the time I take to meditate. In fact, meditation is a welcomed goddess-send that I practice daily.
10. I enjoy abstract discussion.
Too intense? Can we discuss what it would be like to go to sleep and never wake up? Or how about to wake up after never really having gone to sleep? What really happens when our breath escapes the body? Who is your favorite philosopher?
11. I’m a writer.
Of course. Many introverts are writers, as we tend to communicate best in words the brew from the depths of our core. Did you know that J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, considers herself an introvert? Yes, I’m certainly most creatively high energy charged when I am alone creating and crafting a piece.
Accept and embrace introverts. We are not shy (well, some are), we are simply “intro-focused.” We don’t want to change, be more social or be made to feel less important because we are quieter and perhaps less social than the extroverts. As for me, I proudly declare that I am an introvert and quite secure in that truth. Onward introverts! Be perfectly you!
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Amélie (2001)