In Praise Of Introversion
|A great book to read about being an introvert|
I didn't know until recently that there is a World Introvert Day and it is each year on January 2nd. So, I'm a week late in celebrating but that's ok. I've known for a long time that I'm an introvert and have many of the textbook traits of introverts such as getting tired-out from social interaction and needing time to recharge by being alone. I'm also not a fan of big parties and prefer smaller groups of friends when I socialize. If I am in a new situation I tend to stand back and observe before joining in or speaking out and that has caused many folks over the years to misunderstand me, thinking I was being snobby or overly quiet or just not much fun to be around. And I much prefer to work alone than in groups. Now that I'm retired this isn't such an issue anymore although groups can't be avoided entirely. The world tends to value extroverted traits such as being social, talking a lot and group problem solving rather than an individual working alone.
I began to learn more about my introverted self when I was taking courses to add on the academically-intellectually-gifted certification that allowed me to become an AIG Specialist. More recently, I have enjoyed getting articles from introvertdear.com which offers a lot of info about what being an introvert means. Click on the link and you will find a plethora of articles including this one on the definition of being an introvert. Learning about introversion came to me later in my career and I found learning more about myself very helpful. I had always been described as "quiet" and always knew I liked time to myself. I found it life affirming to learn more about what introversion means.
For any extroverts reading this post, please understand that being an introvert is not "better" than being an extrovert and vice-versa. Psychologists believe that we are born as either an introvert or an extrovert and we have our particular introvert/extrovert traits for life. Those traits do impact how each of us like to live our lives both personally and professionally. So, in my opinion, it's very helpful to understand our introverted or extroverted selves. And since many of the extroverted traits-such as being social and outgoing and enjoying working in groups-is valued in the school and workplace, it is important to celebrate and value introverts as well.
Even as a child I can remember being introverted. Which makes sense as I was born with particular introverted traits. I fully remember coming home exhausted from all of the social interaction at school and needing to eat a snack, sit by myself and think over the events and interactions of the day in seclusion. Although I had friends and fully enjoyed being with them, I always needed alone time to recharge from these social times. As a small child I loved playing alone outside or in my bedroom and invented all sorts of imaginary friends and adventures. I loved reading at an early age and was always content to sit quietly and read. When I was a teenager I enjoyed participating in all of the usual teenage activities with friends but found that I needed time alone afterward to recharge from all the social interaction.
Later, as an adult, I carried these same traits into first college life and then the professional settings of teaching. As you might imagine, the educational setting of public school greatly valued teachers working together in "teams" writing curriculum in groups, planning lessons together and encouraging our students to work together in the classroom in groups to problem solve. Early on in my career I noticed students who, like me, shied away from group work and preferred to learn on their own as individuals. While I learned many ways over my career to work and teach in extroverted settings, I also valued my own individualism as a teacher and also tried to respect the students who preferred working alone, as well. It was always a bit of a tightrope walk to get through my professional life as an introvert and most days I came home exhausted from all of the interaction that was required during the work day that went beyond simply teaching my students. Due to this, I tried to keep my evenings and weekends free from lots of social engagements because that time was needed for me to unwind and recharge for the coming week of work. I watched other friends teach all day and then go to meetings or social events in the evenings and feel energized by those events. But not me. Going to more things in the evenings that called on me to be social after a long day at work was very draining. Now, in retirement, I have more free time and am better able to cope and, before Covid, I even found myself looking for more opportunities for social interaction. But during my work life those down times were truly necessary and precious.
Introverts tend to be given many labels such as being "quiet" or "shy." The thing is, as an introvert it takes me longer to feel comfortable letting my true self show when I first meet someone. That means I may stand back and just observe for awhile. I may not speak out as much for awhile. But, once I get to know someone I can be just as loud and talkative as an extroverted person. It just takes awhile. And, I have to feel very safe in a social situation before I share lots of information about myself. Introverts tend to prefer a close group of a few friends rather than a large group of lots of friends. And that pretty much describes me throughout my whole life.
Introverts can be quieter, thoughtful people who seek meaning in their lives. They tend to be problem solvers who think long and hard before expressing themselves to others. They can have rich inner lives that are full of creative and meaningful ideas. Introverts have so much to offer the world. So do extroverts. But often times it is the extroverts who get noticed over the introverts because extroverts tend to talk more and be louder in what they voice. Because extroverts tend to be more assertive and frequently are first to offer ideas and opinions they are often more "heard" than introverts who take time to think and ponder before offering ideas and opinions. Both groups are important to our world. But I must say that as an introvert, I am happy to find that I am not alone since it is believed that 30-50% of the population are introverts. So, how can we not celebrate?!
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What has been your experience as an introvert or an extrovert? If you are an introvert, can you relate to the definitions? Do leave a comment. I love hearing from my readers!