I am an Introvert. Holla!

Not all my time since I’ve gotten back from California has been doing “fun” things. I have also been doing quite a bit of reading. Actually a lot of reading on a “personal Abby scale” as I hardly read books for enjoyment at all. Over the past few weeks I have read these books: Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, Self-Promotion for Introverts by Nancy Ancowitz, & Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack just to name a few. I’ve seriously been abusing the Salt Lake County Library system. As I read these books my family was giving me some strange looks. Telling me that they don’t believe I’m an introvert at all. But… I am. I think that people have many misconceptions of what introversion is, so allow me to educate the ignorant or confused.

I have always known that I was an introvert, I even did a post about it not too long ago. It wasn’t until I read these books that I realized just how blatantly introverted I truly am. Yet at the same time, reading about how others have the same thought process and behavioral patterns as me has made me feel completely normal. And introversion IS completely normal!!! As I stated before, people assume a lot of things about introverts that aren’t true. In a world that is dominated by extroverts, introverts can easily believe that there is something missing or they don’t belong. Carl King did a great post on this! Check it out here! But I also want to share some of what I personally gathered from these books.

First, I want to start off by saying that…introverts are not anti-social, shy, fun suckers, haters of humans, lacking in self-confidence, socially incompetent, rude, or stuck-up. All misconceptions. All very wrong. Any of those traits and qualities can appear in both introverts and extroverts, but they are not synonymous with introversion. Unlike extroverts, introverts do not feed off the energy of crowds or groups of people. Introverts recharge by time spent alone. For introverts, group activities can be draining and overstimulating. However, introverts greatly enjoy one-on-one conversations.

Second, do not try to change an introvert into an extrovert. When you say that to someone, you are inherently saying that something is wrong with them; that they need to adjust their personality to become a better person. It is a scientific fact that introverts and extroverts’ brains are hardwired and stimulated differently. You can’t just simply change that. Many of the world’s greatest leaders, entertainers, and public speakers are in fact introverts… do they need to change? No. What I most learned from these books is that introverts are not silent little mice who shy away from all public positions, confrontations, and social realms. Introverts have a power of their own and bring something different to the table than what extroverts have to offer.

Third, Introverts keep their best stuff inside until it is ready to be shared. Which, is often why introverts are harder to read. Writing is a way that introverts can easily express themselves. Which is why many MANY introverts take an interest in blogging, vlogging, journaling, and Youtube. It’s a premeditated form of communication where we can think about what we want to say in advance, then share our thoughts without interruption. Definitely describes why one of my biggest phobias was being called on randomly in class to share my thoughts on something. Also explains why in my Humanities class I got a 98% on the final but got a B in the class because of participation. We had to make a certain number of comments in class each semester, and as hard as I tried…I simply couldn’t think of anything to contribute right then and there. I raised my hand as often as I could, sometimes I even mustered up comments that I didn’t even agree with or find valuable just so I could try to get the participation grade. That was really hard for me. I tried explaining it to my TA, but once again, extroverts triumphed and I was left with a B. B for Boo that class sucked.

Fourth, “At every party there are two kinds of people-those who want to go home and those who don’t. The trouble is, they are usually married to each other.” – Ann Landers. Introverts prefer to interact with fewer people in a smaller setting. Small talk is trivial to introverts, they only really value conversations where ideas and opinions are exchanged; conversations that are mind to mind rather than mere mouth to mouth. Richness over muchness.

Fifth, “Extroverts may have more going on socially but we have more going on upstairs.” – Laurie Helgoe. The wheels in an introverts brain are constantly moving; often referred to in these books as an “inner world”. Always thinking, imagining, studying, remembering, pondering, dreaming about something. This is why many introverts, when they do speak, can often say very random things that seem to come out of nowhere. Often times introverts can’t even remember if they’ve said things out loud or not. It may have been a conversation/thought they merely have gone over repeatedly in their own mind.

So let me explain myself.

“1. Why do extroverts have voicemail? 2. Why do introverts have voicemail?   1. To never miss a call 2. To never answer the phone.” I found this in “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” and felt like it was speaking to me! The only problem is that I’m also a person who hates checking their voicemail…yeah, its kind of a problem. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can drop off the face of the earth when it comes to getting in touch with me. Honestly, it wasn’t until I read these books that I discovered why I am the way I am. I’ll often read text messages, emails, etc and simply not respond to them immediately… It sounds ridiculous, but at that time I simply don’t have the energy to carry on a conversation. That does not mean that I do not value the person I’m speaking with, it just means I need to wait until I’m ready. I’ve also never enjoyed texting for long conversations… it is too impersonal and annoying to me. They are such short messages that no substantial conversation can truly take place. Phone calls, email, and Skype are 10 times better.

I don’t like parties. Yes I know that I myself have thrown a party or two,or three, or four, ok even more… BUT…. truth be told it’s the preparation for the party I most enjoy, not so much the hosting. It is also a different thing when I know the majority of the people at the party. But nearly each one of the books I read touched and the same things when it came to parties and that is that introverts don’t always like parties, and guess what… you don’t have to like them. Confession. I can’t tell you how many white lies I’ve told to get out of going to parties, how many excuses I’ve come up with. Unfortunately I’m a pro at it. I nearly spit out excuses before people even ask me to do something. But I’ve learned that I just need to tell people. Look I don’t like parties. I can make an appearance, but I’m not going to last very long, I can promise you that. A lot of people think that if you don’t like parties you must have social phobias, be afraid of meeting new people, or are shy. For me, large parties are just overwhelming. Its like walking into a huge Forever 21. Your eyes get glazed over, you know you’ll never be able to try it all on, you grab a few things, and you leave with a headache.

Obviously not everything is cut and dry. Nobody is ever 100%  introverted or 100% extroverted. There are times when I actually answer my phone, am a social butterfly, have enjoyed big parties, and in certain situations can’t stop my motor mouth about a topic. That doesn’t mean that I’m an extrovert. Obviously I am very comfortable and vocal around my family and close friends, as most introverts are. I’m a congenial introvert and I think my profile on twitter says it all… I blog, text, Skype, tweet, chat, email, Facebook, call, comment, message; if you’re lucky you might actually talk to me in person.

If anything, if you’ve even continued reading up to this point, I hope you don’t look at introverts with a negative connotation. We like people, company, conversation, fun, jokes, music, food… WE’RE HUMAN TOO. We just highly value alone time, and generally don’t allow people we don’t know very well into our world/lives as readily as extroverts do. It might be hard for people to understand that we may prefer staying in some weekends just to spend time with ourselves, because that’s what we want most. I highly recommend reading these books (especially Introvert Power) whether you’re an extrovert or introvert. Each of them explain things about both personality types and how to better understand, interact, and be respectful of one another. I hope that by this post maybe you were either   1. able to relate  2. able to learn something new today   or 3. can now see introversion in a different light. 🙂 Till next time then.