Introverts often get a lot of flack for being “boring,” “too quiet,” or “a downer.” But there’s a lot more to introverts than meets the eye!
When I was growing up, my mom quickly realized that I wasn’t going to follow in my outgoing sister’s footsteps. Instead, she described me as an old soul, a kid that liked to be alone, and spoke up only when there was something important to say. Rather than floating around with a crowd, I liked to read and spend time in my room. She knew early on what it has taken me quite a while to accept: I am, without a doubt, an introvert.
I take my personal privacy seriously, and find being in the spotlight overwhelming. I observe before I speak, I need time to deal with change, and I recharge alone. It’s not that I can’t be surrounded by people; I prefer to be surrounded by only a few people I’ve formed a real connection with.
Our world loves extroverts. Just think of the slew of leaders, business giants, famous TV personalities, and humanitarians who are outgoing and confident, and excel in the spotlight.
As a modern culture, we value people with traits associated with extroverts–people who are outgoing, open, and naturally social. But by placing these characteristics in the forefront of what’s important to us as a society, we put a great deal of pressure on introverts to adopt those traits.
We assume that all introverts are shy and lack charisma, because they don’t seek out the spotlight like extroverts. Yet introverts can become open and social in certain situations. If introverts feel comfortable, or feel the need to speak up, there is no reason why we wouldn’t.
Introverts aren’t always wallflowers, but they do find social encounters more draining than extroverts. In a sense, we need to choose the times and places we become outgoing more carefully, and we need to recharge after being in these situations. [Read: 10 motivational tips and tricks for shy people and introverts]
The best things about being an introvert
While introverts get a bad rep for being awkward, shy, and unlikable, they actually have some great qualities that are often overlooked in a world that loves naturally social people. Introverts have many hidden qualities that make them great friends, partners, and colleagues.
#1 Introverts take time to develop deeper relationships. Extroverts tend to surround themselves with a larger group of people, whereas introverts usually run in smaller circles. Most often, this means that they get to know people on a much deeper and more meaningful level. It’s the old “quality versus quantity” debate.
While extroverts have more friends and acquaintances, they can’t always be expected to know intimate details about these people. Introverts take the time to really get to know the people in their circle. They listen to people’s needs and wants, and take the time to support them. [Read: 13 charming ways to be more approachable without saying a word]
#2 Introverts observe first, then speak up. The loudest voice is not always the most reliable or valuable. Introverts can often be found on the outskirts of a conversation, observing and reading the situation. They don’t feel the need to chime in on every detail, yet if they feel there is something crucial they need to add, they will take the time to form a great response and deliver it.
#3 Introverts take the time to think, then act. Extroverts are known to jump straight into a conversation, and act quickly without thinking about the effects of their words and actions, whereas introverts take the time to process information, look at what’s in front of them, and then make a perceptive decision.
#4 Introverts excel at being able to focus. We’ve all seen extroverts at work, bouncing from one thing to the next, and trying to get everything done at once. While their energy is admirable, it can also be ineffective. Introverts can focus on a goal and deliver. They know how to harness their energy and concentrate on producing great results–whether in personal or professional relationships.
#5 Introverts are excellent listeners. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with an introvert, you know they are listening, because they’re not only talking less, but are taking in your concerns and coming up with something meaningful to say. Extroverts, though they can also be helpful, may sometimes seem like they’re listening, when in fact, they’re just waiting for their turn to speak.
Whether you have always known you’re an introvert, or are just coming to understand why you prefer to be alone, have fewer but closer relationships, and carefully choose the time and place that you come out of your social shell, don’t be discouraged. Being an introvert in a world that values naturally social people isn’t a complete miss. [Read: The introvert’s foolproof guide to dating an extrovert]
Introverts have many excellent qualities that extroverts lack, because of their always-out-there personality. We read situations carefully, and think before we speak. We can observe better than most, and focus on what’s important. We think before we act, and develop close relationships with the people who are important to us. Introverts aren’t just shy and awkward–we have our strengths that make us irreplaceable, and every introvert reading this needs to embrace that. [Read: The socially awkward person’s guide to flirting]
I always felt like I was destined to be on the outskirts of things, because I didn’t make the effort to be front and center, like my sister and so many other people that enjoy being in the spotlight. But once I realized there was a good reason to need all that alone time, or for always being the one to listen and offer advice people truly valued, I didn’t mind being labeled as an introvert. It wasn’t a negative thing to me anymore; instead, it was something I could own, and even be proud of.
Being an introvert can be overwhelming and frustrating, especially when people all around you constantly push you to speak up or mingle with the crowd. However, introverts have their own set of strengths that not everyone has. Learn to embrace them!