Bill Gates is one. Steve Jobs was one. I am a third. It is said that this trait is found in around 40% of the population.
And what trait is that? Being an introvert ?
It took me a long time to embrace this side of me. I simply didn’t realise that my desire to be on my own, to have alone time, was shared with others. I thought it was just my reaction to being a working mum with a busy family!
For many years I thought that I was, in fact, an extrovert.
Thanks to the book Quiet by Susan Cain I discovered that I had spent much of my life being a pseudo extrovert. In other words, thanks to my chameleon-like ability to adopt other people’s behaviour as my own (a characteristic of many introverts trying to stay sane in an extroverted world), I had been doing myself a disservice.
The Introvert Difference
Extroverts love being around people – they feed off the energy of groups, both large and small. Introverts on the other hand find being in crowds overwhelming. That constant stream of noise, vibration, movement, energy and emotions belonging to other people is like suddenly finding yourself in a filthy, muddy swamp that sticks to every part of you.
Introverts are generally drawn to careers such as writing, being artistic and creative, writing software code, farming or outdoor work, in fact any role where you spend a large amount of time on your own. Introverts have this amazingly rich inner world where all sorts of things go on.
Introverts are the deep thinkers of the world. They may not say much but when they do have something to say, boy you’d better listen up because it’s G-O-O-D. It’ll be well thought out, detailed and will answer all your questions in one fell swoop.
Being an introvert in an extrovert world
Introverts often come out badly when it comes to group activities, because they need their own head space to think in – they can’t come up with what they consider to be a good response there and then. And certainly not with other people’s voices chiming in all the time!
Introverts can also come across as being antisocial – they tend to avoid parties and large groups. Or if they can’t get out of going, they will find a corner somewhere where they can observe what is going on and preserve their sense of self.
The quiet strengths of being an introvert
And that’s another introvert characteristic – needing deep ranging conversations about all sorts of things. Small talk is not a strong point of introverts – we want to know what’s going on underneath a person’s exterior, not what they want the world to think about them.
Introverts can spot insincerity a mile off. And we can also spot when someone is trying to fish for information from us that once revealed, they would not respect. So we clam up tighter than a limpet on a rock.
Introverts love being on their own. And to them (and to me!) it’s not a luxury, or a would-like-to-have. It’s a necessity.
Hitting “The Wall”
I regularly suffer from people-itis where I just feel overwhelmed by other people’s thoughts and ideas and worries and endless chattering. Especially in these days of social media and 24/7 connectedness.
And when that happens I just shut down and withdraw. I can’t even summon up the energy to tell people that I’m shutting down – the thought of having to do that just makes the whole thing seem even worse! So I switch off the wifi and mobile data connection on my phone, use my laptop for watching catch up TV or Netflix and spend as much time as I can just focusing on replenishing my energy.
Because that’s one thing that all introverts have in common – we’re the givers of this world. And when we give, we give from our hearts and souls. Which means that we often give our energy away as well as our wisdom and advice. And doing that can lead to being depleted.
Time to Recharge
For me, one of my many cures for energy depletion is to spend time in and with Mother Nature. Walking through the woods, paddling in the sea, spending time working on my garden.
Along with rose petal baths, early nights, time with my dogs and cats, time spent writing.
All of these are balm to my soul and refill the empty pot of energy inside me.
What about you? Are you an introvert? Do you embrace it or try to hide it? Or are you an extrovert? Do you love being the life and soul of the party? Do let me know ?