There are plenty of introverts who are not shy. Rather, an introvert is a person who is energized by spending time alone or with the company of a few people they trust. Crowds and social engagements can drain the introvert.
Introverts have an intricate and rich inner world and while they do represent the minority of people, they comprise some of the smartest people on the planet. (Sixty percent of the world’s population with the highest IQs are introverts, but only 25 to 40% of the world’s population in general are introverts.)
Introverts are often told to come out of their shell, to speak up or to stop being so quiet. Introversion is one of the most misunderstood personality traits, especially by those who are not introverted.
Because of this and without the proper awareness and nurturing of the introverted personality, many introverts grow up to feel unsure of themselves or lack in confidence. They’ve been told throughout their lives that they are shy and to be more outspoken. Over time this can create serious confusion and internal discord within the introvert.
An excellent resource for introverts is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. This book can help you to understand your introversion and embrace it.
Here 8 things you need to know if you’re an introvert.
1. Just because you’re quiet doesn’t mean you’re shy.
Sure, introverts can be shy, but this is not what makes them an introvert. Unfortunately, shyness is usually confused with introversion. As an introvert, you like to fully think through what you say before you speak. Likewise, you like to make valuable contributions to conversations rather than just speaking for the heck of it. When you do speak, you tend to be concise and to the point. Just because you don’t say much, it doesn’t mean you’re shy.
Shyness has to do with insecurity, fear and discomfort. Technically, being shy is fear of social judgment whereas introversion has to do with responding to stimulation. The term shy is not interchangeable with introvert.
2. You’re not boring.
Introverts still love to have fun, but just don’t like to do it in the same way as extroverts. Being introverted does not mean being boring and those close to you know this. Your inner world is deep, creative and filled with meaning. If you prefer to stay at home and read rather than go out to a club, this does not mean you are boring.
3. It’s not that you don’t like people.
If you’re an introvert, socializing can drain you. Mingling, networking, interacting with others and having to be “on” can be absolutely exhausting to the introvert. It’s okay to not be the life of the party and it doesn’t mean you’re anti-social if parties are tiring to you.
It’s not that you don’t like people. You do. But as an introvert, your batteries literally need to be recharged by being in solitude or with only your closest peeps. This is precious and totally necessary time for you.
4. You don’t lack confidence.
Just because you’re quiet or prefer to be in a small group or even alone, it doesn’t mean you lack confidence. Confidence has to do with self-esteem. Introversion does not.
5. You can still be a great leader.
Some of the world’s top leaders have been and are introverts including Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates and Abraham Lincoln. Extroversion is not a prerequisite for leadership. If you want to be a leader, your introversion does not have to stop you. In fact the Wharton School of Business conducted a study showing that introverted leaders often have better results than their extroverted counterparts.
Susan Cain on The Power of Introverts:
6. You’re not aloof or uptight.
Because introverts tend to be more quiet, they are often misunderstood and to others, may come across as aloof or uptight at first. It’s hard to fake being engaged or excited when you’re just not and when you do fake it, it’s seriously tiring. As a introvert, you don’t share your real self with everyone because not everyone gains entry to you. That’s just the way it is. You’re inner world is valuable and not everyone gets to know you.
7. You’re not OCD.
Introverts notice things. You are highly attuned to your environment. If you notice the little things that other people seem to miss, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are OCD. Introverts have a keen ability to notice subtleties such as body language, movement, the tone of voice and nuances in behavior and surroundings. If you are an introvert, you are likely also perceptive and you catch things that others don’t.
8. You don’t have to be like everyone else.
You may feel like you don’t fit in. You may feel like everyone else has more energy to go out and do things that seem tiring to you. The key thing to remember is that being introverted can be hard, but it is also a blessing. If you are an introvert, embrace it as an asset.