Michaela Jung says, “An introvert’s desire for solitude is more than a preference. It is crucial to our health and happiness.” Being an introvert is considered to be scandalous in a world that doesn’t get tired tipping their hats off to extroverts. A majority of people feel and believe that introversion is a personality disorder. However, nothing could be as far fetched from the truth. Introverts need for calmness and quietude after socialising stems from the fact that their minds respond differently to events that can cause a surge in dopamine levels. Introverts and Extroverts are fundamentally different from each other in the way they respond to different situations and circumstances. Introverts push their energies, emotions, and feelings inside rather than outside. because of the way the neural networks are formed. Here’s a breakdown on everything about Introverts:

Introduction To Introverts

The Oxford Dictionary describes an introvert as a quiet person who is more interested in their own thoughts and feelings than in spending time with other people. They refresh and restore their energies by spending time alone by either listening to music, reading a book, or just finding the deeper meanings of life. This is what makes them observers and dreamers. Introverts have created a world inside their minds which changes every day based on their experiences. Being stuck in traffic or at a party leads to them being dead on their feet and that means they need more time alone to recharge. Spending time alone doesn’t equate to being depressed, instead, it just means that they love being quiet in a world that cannot stop talking. 

Introvert Illustration
An introvert would rather spend time by herself than with others

Meaning of Being An Introvert

At the most basic level of understanding an introvert is someone who gets drained by social interactions and activity and needs the alone time to replenish their energies. The way a human mind is wired determines if you are an introvert or an extrovert. Everyone is born with a certain innate disposition which can be further moulded by the environment. Your life experiences have a central role in determining if you happen to be an introvert. The interactions you have with your parents, teachers, and friends while growing up make you feel comfortable and confident in who you are. On the contrary, if you are teased, bullied, and pulled down a shell keeps forming that becomes rigid and unyielding with time. Social anxiety creeps in making you avoid people. 

While there are as many introverts as there are extroverts, they belong to varying degrees on the same spectrum. This means that no one is a pure introvert or extrovert and although every introvert is different, there are certain traits common to all. An inclination for introspection, a need for solitude, and a slower more relaxed communication style seem to be the most striking qualities. While some introverts need long periods of alone time and others don’t feel drained that often and can handle a decent amount of social time before they head to find that quiet corner.

A clear illustration of how information is processed inside an introvert’s and an extrovert’s head

Every introvert, however, experiences the dreaded introvert hangover which is a direct result of too many people time and social interactions. The brain exhausts its processing capacity, making you feel fatigued and even grouchy. The only way to overcome such a situation is by spending that me time alone.

Consider an activity is being arranged by the class teacher for all the children in the class. There are two children, one is introverted while the other is shy. The introverted child wants to remain at his desk since he finds group activity draining while the child that is shy wants to join the other children yet can’t do so because he is afraid to do so. 

Distinction Between Introversion and Shyness

Being shy means you get self-conscious and nervous in social situations. Being introverted means social situations wear you out. Both introverts and extroverts can have shyness. It is not necessary that all extroverts go around chatting with people. An introvert might not feel shyness or queasiness in social interactions – in fact, many tend to enjoy it. However, since eventually, it would tire introverts out, they avoid extra time socialising.

Difference between being shy and being introvert
Being shy and being introvert are two different things

Therapy can be used to treat shyness while introversion is an integral part of a person. Trying to change an introvert to an extrovert might pose problems such as stress and create problems with self-esteem. 

Compare social stamina to cricket. Extroverts are like test match players while introverts are T-20 players. We all like playing – some enjoy playing the shorter format of the game. 

10 Myths About Introverts

In the digital world when we have access to extensive information, plenty of misconceptions float around about introverts. Even if they are aware, they never seem to fully understand the world of introverts. They equate introversion with shyness, depression, and social anxiety disorder. An introvert’s need to quiet his mind is often regarded as being antisocial or even worse selfish. 

If the typical stereotypes are to be believed, introverts are always angry, disinterested, and stuck up. However, nothing could be farther from the truth. Here are 10 myths about introverts that need to be busted:

1. Introverts Don’t Like To Talk: Introverts hate small and unnecessary talk. If they are interested in a topic, they won’t shy away from the discussion and dissection for hours. 

2. Introverts Are Shy: It can’t be stressed enough that shyness has nothing to do with being an introvert. Introverts aren’t afraid of social situations or interactions. All they need is a reason for interaction. They don’t just run their mouth because something needs to be said.

3. Introverts Are Rude: As mentioned, introverts hate small talk and don’t believe in exchanging pleasantries and want to get straight to the point. If an introvert is completely exhausted, they might zone out or become irksome. However, this isn’t a permanent personality trait.

4. Introverts Don’t Like People: Authenticity and honesty can help an introvert open themselves in front of others. They value the few friends they have. Their social circle might be small yet if you find yourself a part of it, you know you have a loyal comrade by your side for life.

This picture vividly demonstrates how introverts prefer to be treated and that they are not anti-social

5. Introverts Don’t Like To Hang Out: Introverts love going out in public with their close group of friends. Though, they might not enjoy for as long and might want to head back home to recharge it all. They also avoid the complications that come as a result of public activities. 

6. Introverts Always Want To Be Alone: Introverts love to be alone and daydream. They ponder and reason. They research on different areas of interest, work on puzzles and always discover new stuff through their study. However, they need someone to share their incredible discoveries one person at a time.

Introverts are different but they are not like anything you imagine

7. Introverts Are Weird: Introverts are free-spirited. They have their own beliefs and opinions. They don’t follow the crowd and prefer to stick to their norms of living. It often leads them to challenge conventional ways since their decision is never based on what is popular and comfortable.

8. Introverts Are Aloof Nerds: Introverts look inward and inside instead of focusing on the outside world. They focus on their thoughts and emotions because it is more stimulating and rewarding. 

9. Introverts Don’t Know How To Have Fun: As introverts are not thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, to relax and have fun, introverts would choose reading a book, listening to music at the comfort of their homes as opposed to going out in busy public places. If there is too much going on, they shut down. 

Introverts are born in a certain way and will remain so
Introverts are born that way and can’t be fixed

10. Introverts Can Be Fixed: A world without introverts would have fewer writers, artists, actors, doctors, filmmakers, poets, musicians, philosophers, and scientists. Being an introvert is an inherent quality that is ingrained and hardwired into the being. There is no process that introverts can follow and fix themselves in order to become extroverts. 

20 Signs You Are An Introvert

While growing up, did people often ask you to open up and talk more? Do they still do that? You are a quiet one. However, just being quiet doesn’t qualify you to be an introvert. You could be just shy. 

Introversion is more innate than you think and discerning an introvert can be as hard as spotting a needle in a haystack. The most important aspect of being an introvert is to determine whether you gain or lose energy in the company of others even if they are your best mates. Introversion is still rarely understood by people despite the growing conversation around it.

While you can take an introverts quiz to check if you are an introvert, here are 20 telltale signs that will leave no air of doubt in your mind about it:

1. You Love Your Company: It’s Saturday night and your idea of a good evening is to tuck in your bed and spend some quality time by yourself. It could be reading, writing, petting your dog, listening to music, playing video games or binge-watching a show on Netflix. It doesn’t matter what your preferred activity is as long as you do it by yourself. You feel great when you’re alone. 

2. Thinking Alone Takes The Best Out Of You: Spending time alone is not only just about recreation but also giving the time to brain to decompress and refresh itself. In solitude, you fine-tune your thoughts which after being in a crowd seem distorted after being in a crowd. You feel creative and have deeper insights and may arrive at a solution to the hardest problems when you are thinking alone.

3. You Often Feel Alone In A Crowd: Introverts never feel quite connected when surrounded by a hoard of people. The only plausible explanation for it is that a group of people makes you feel disconnected from yourself. It is terribly difficult to converse beyond a point as the outside noise suppresses your inner voice.

4. You Have No Desire To Be The Centre Of Attention: At work if you have any ideas or any feedback, you’d rather share it with the concerned person on a one-on-one basis or even better email it to them. At school, if you had any questions, you never raised your hand to get clarity on your doubts but instead met your teacher after the class for the same. You only speak up when you feel it’ll make a difference.

The many signs that you're an introvert
The many signs that you’re an introvert

5. Networking Seems Like An Insincere Activity: Attending a meetup that is full of strangers and introducing yourself would be one of the hardest things that you have ever done. Pricking your fingernails with a thousand needles seems easier. The problem arises because most of the times the conversations that you have with a stranger doesn’t feel authentic. How can someone say “Nice To Meet You” just by shaking the hands of another person? Small talk doesn’t come naturally to you and makes you feel spurious all the time.

6. You Are Often Told That You’re Too Intense: This is an aftereffect of your need to avoid small talk. If you could channel things, you’d probably ban ridiculous chit chat and make it mandatory for everyone to bare their soul in every conversation. Your penchant for philosophical conversations and love for thought-provoking books and movies can always make you jump to the deep end.

7. You Excel At Writing Your Thoughts Than Speaking Them: Writing gives you an opportunity and time to reflect on your thoughts and carve them beautifully and tactfully. Moreover, when you write, the pressure is lesser as you feel calm as opposed to saying the same thing. You may even be inclined to writing as a career.

8. You Can Concentrate For Long Hours: If you have a hobby that you are passionate about, you often forget the time while working on it. The brain patterns inside your head allow you to focus and concentrate for hours. This makes you great at any chosen field of study.

Introverts can concentrate for long hours and prefer sharing their thoughts through writing
Introverts can concentrate for long hours and prefer sharing their thoughts through writing

9. You Have A Keen Eye For Details: Introverts tend to notice minor details that others miss. Too many stimuli can overwhelm you at times but it also helps your observant eye to recognise the slightest change in the demeanour of your friend or make out that things are not normal between two people which others tend to easily miss. You are incredibly tuned into colour, space, and texture making you an extremely talented visual artist.

10. You Don’t Go To Parties To Meet New People: You’re extremely happy and content with your close circle of friends and when you go out partying, meeting new people is never the goal. The only intention is to meet your friends and spend quality time with them.

11. You Imagine All The Time: You have heard the phrases “Get Out Of Your Head”, “Stop Daydreaming”, or “Come Back To Earth” way too often. This is primarily because you live inside your head all the time and that inner world is as vivid and alive as the outer one.

12. You Like To Observe: Introverts are keen, natural observers. You like observing people, nature, things, almost everything all the time.

The Anatomy of an Introvert
The Anatomy of an Introvert

13. You’re A Good Listener: Listening is an art – an art that you have mastered. You love listening to people talk and share their experiences and perspectives. You are not competing to speak or get every thought out there as most extroverts do. You don’t need to talk to think.

14. You Have A Close Circle Of Friends: Having more friends will always lead to an introvert hangover. Having only a few close friends ensures that this isn’t the case. While you are friendly with others as well but they never get beyond acquaintance status. However, if you connect with someone on a deeper level, you wouldn’t mind adding them to your elite list of friends.

15. You’re An Old Soul: Introverts observe, take in a lot of information, and analyse before speaking. You are interested in the deeper meaning of an event or the underlying patterns making you reflective and an old soul.

16Your Inner Monologue Keeps Running: You have a clear and distinct inner voice that always has something to say. It’s hard to quiet your mind as your inner monologue keeps on running like a tape recorder. At times, you can’t doze off because your mind wanders in the past making you remember the stupid things you said to your friend five years ago.

How introverts tend to make friends
How introverts tend to make friends

17. You Don’t Get High Off Of Your Environment: Huge Parties aren’t your thing and there’s a reason for that. Neurochemically speaking, introverts and extroverts differ significantly on how they process experiences through reward centres.

18. You Avoid Small Talk: Introverts avoid small talk because they find it ridiculously cumbersome and a source of annoyance. You have a small talk phobia which makes you change your direction as soon as you see a coworker walking toward you to save yourself from exchanging pleasantries. You delay stepping out of your house if you hear your neighbours in the hallway to avoid chitchat. You detest small talk because of the barrier it creates between people.

19. You Shut Down After Too Much Socialising: Do you start to feel worn out and tired after you’ve been out and about for long? It’s primarily because you are trying to conserve your energy. Everything an introvert does in the outside world causes him to spend energy which they need to replenish in a quiet environment by spending quality time by themselves. 

An illustration of how introverts and extroverts feel as they spend more time at a party
An illustration of how introverts and extroverts feel as they spend more time at a party

20. You Alternate Between Being Social And Being Alone: Introverts have an innate need to be alone, they relish it. In your solitude, you quiet your mind and bring peace to it by tuning to your inner thoughts and tuning out of the outside world. However, periods of inactivity bring about a desire to connect with others. You long to interact meaningfully with others on a deeper level. In a way, an introvert alternates between these two worlds. While solitude will always be your home, you do like wandering out in the world of people every now and then.

There Are No Pure Introverts

No two different people can be the same. Similarly, no two introverts can be the same. What is true for one introvert will in all likelihood be not true for another. Each introvert has a different tolerance level for socialising and other kinds of simulation. 

The famous psychotherapist Carl Jung said, “There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”

There's no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extrovert
There’s no such thing as a pure introvert or pure extrovert

A spectrum decides the level of introversion and extroversion and these aren’t all or nothing traits. Everyone is an introvert and an extrovert depending on the situation and most importantly, the environment.

If you’re not sure if you’re an introvert, you can take up a scientific introvert quiz to find out for yourself.

The Power Of An Introvert

We live in a world that can’t stop talking and prefers nonsensical chatter over silence. Many-a-introverts grow up feeling out of place. At times, they succumb into the pressure of participation since they are led to believe that something is terribly wrong with them.

However, there’s so much power and potential in being an introvert. The world has a dearth of people who are thoughtful and immerse themselves in a particular subject. It needs people who go deeper, think before they act, and have the ability to look at things in newer and more innovative ways.

The world lacks people who don’t easily move on just for their selfish interests and give you the space to express yourself. The world has a place for people who value meaningful relationships over meaningless banter.

The quiet mind of an introvert is their power
The quiet mind of an introvert is their power

The world is short of people who are patient and don’t necessarily have to speak in order to communicate. The world is ready for thoughtful, contemplative people who bring an air of calmness and wisdom to a room.

These traits are not commonplace and are only offered by introverts. Because the world has so many chest-thumping extroverts, introverts who own their values and characteristics are bound to excel and show their gift to the world and it will recognise them. 

There is an old adage, “The person who says the least is also the wisest.” Introverts are not born any more intelligent or wiser than anyone else. Having said that, they do have an underlying advantage. Their insights and contemplation of things give them deep insights into things in general.

Can An Introvert Become An Extrovert

The simple answer to this long-burning question is NO. In the hindsight, why do you even want to change? 

Years and years of research has confirmed clearly that introverts and extroverts express their temperaments from a very young age. In fact, one study by the famous psychologist Jerome Kagan revealed that it is possible to predict which infants will grow up to be introverted based on their reaction to stimuli. What this means is that if you are born introverted, you will remain the same way throughout your life.

There are many introverts who want to become more outgoing. However, this isn’t the same thing as becoming an extrovert. Introverts can practice social skills to become more confident and outgoing in social situations and yet, it won’t change the fact that those conversations will ultimately drain us.
Introverts can practice in different ways to become more social and help them to be at ease in situations that require interactions. Moreover, there are also people who are outgoing or extroverted introverts. 

Introverts can't change to extroverts and more importantly, why should they?
Introverts can’t change to extroverts and more importantly, why should they?

All said and done, being an introvert is a gift and there are many charm and warm introverts out there who are extremely successful in their fields. Johnny Depp – our favourite Captain Jack Sparrow, Mark Zuckerburg – the founder of the most widely used social media platform, J K Rowling – the creator and author of Harry Potter, Barack Obama – the former president of United States of America and plenty others are all introverts and yet they thrive in social situations and life. Even if it seems impossible, becoming comfortable in social situations is only a matter of practice.

Your quiet nature is a gift and the more you embrace it, the more it will make you feel comfortable and tend to make you flourish. You will be happier, have better relationships, excel in your work, and most importantly, enjoy life since your minds will be well-rested resulting in higher levels of energy.

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Girish Dutt Shukla

Author of Maroon in a sky of blue

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