Introverts make up anywhere between 30-50% of the population. Despite this high percentage, introverts are often misunderstood. That’s because Western culture sees extroverts as the ideal person. If you don’t fit that ideal extroverted personality, then you are judged and made to feel that something is wrong with you.
That sentiment is summed up perfectly in this quote by Marti Olsen Laney, “The introvert is pressured daily, almost from the moment of awakening, to respond and conform to the outer world.” Thankfully, her book, “The Introvert Advantage”, shows introverts how to work with their temperament. She shows introverts everywhere not just how to survive, but how to thrive.
Slowly, the world is coming to recognize that introverts are amazing and have so much to offer. However, there are times when I wish the world would hurry up! In particular, here are some things that I wish people would understand about introverts.
1. I need alone time. That’s my time to recharge, so I have energy for everything else in my life. Alone time is what allows me to function at my best. It’s not personal. I just need people to respect my alone time and give me space when I need it.
2. I also need social time. I cherish my time spent with close friends and family. Just like extroverts, us introverts need these social connections in order to thrive.
3. I prefer smaller groups, or one-on-one conversations to bigger groups. I can feel lost and unconnected when I’m in a big group.
4. It takes time for me to put my thoughts into words. That’s because the introvert brain works differently than an extrovert’s brain. So, please have patience with me. It’s worth it, I promise!
5. Conversations can move too quickly for me to respond. I can keep up with what’s being said, but it takes time for me to think of what to say. By the time I think of something, the conversation has moved on. So, if I’m not saying much, just let me listen and process what’s being said.
6. I like having some friends who are extroverts for several reasons. One, since they like to talk, they get to start the conversation and I can contribute when I’m ready. Two, they bring fun and excitement into my life.
7. I like being an introvert. But sometimes I wish I as an extrovert. Talking just seems to come so easily to them.
8. Writing can be easier than talking. That’s because I can take the time I need to put my thoughts together in a way that is logical and ordered. I can re-read what I have written to make sure that what I’m trying to say is clear and will be understood.
9. Not all introverts are shy. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean that I’m shy. If you take the time to get to know me, you wouldn’t think that I was shy or quiet. However, it will take a lot of time to get to this point, so hang in there.
10. I like silence. Silence allows my mind to process things. So, don’t think that just because I’m not speaking, that something is wrong or that I’m upset. I’ll talk when I’m ready. So, please, please, don’t try pushing me to talk before then. That will only piss me off!
11. I like to listen. I truly want to hear what you have to say.
12. Small talk is difficult for me. When I’m around someone I don’t know very well, I don’t know what to talk about.
13. Networking is hard for me. Part of the reason is the whole small talk thing. Even if I do talk to you at an event, I have no idea of how to follow up. It’s easier to follow up when I have a reason to reach out.
14. Don’t ask me why I’m quiet or make a big deal when I do speak. This will only make me feel self-conscious. And then I won’t speak. If you want me to talk more, than ask me questions that will lead to a deeper and meaningful conversation.
15. I’ve learned to limit my social events. Even though I enjoy my social outings, it’s easy for me to get burnt out very quickly. It’s a balancing act that I have to constantly juggle.
16. I want to be invited to social events. I may turn down a lot of invites, but I still want to be invited. That lets me know that people are thinking of me.
17. Because I have limited social energy, I only want to spend time with people I really enjoy being around. So, if I’m spending time with you, that means you’re important to me.
18. Don’t expect me to have an opinion on everything. I like to speak when I have knowledge about a topic. I also don’t like to flip flop – I’m steady and reliable.
19. My mind freezes. So, if you’ve just said something shocking, don’t expect me to respond right away. Even if it wasn’t shocking, my mind will still freeze. This happens because I wasn’t expecting that comment and I don’t know how to respond to it.
20. So, check in with me the next day to get my reaction or feedback. It gives me time to process and think about how I want to respond.
21. I overthink everything. I analyze all the different sides and factors in a situation. If you ask for my opinion before I’ve formed it, I’ll just give you the pros and cons of the different options available. I know it comes across as confusing, but it’s just as frustrating for me as it is for you.
22. Ask if you can invite someone to join us, before you invite the other person. Bringing another person changes the group dynamic. I have to be prepared for this new dynamic.
23. I am happy. Especially when I’m doing introvert things – like nature walks, biking with friends or even solo activities.
24. I like having only a few friends, that I’m really close to. I don’t need tons of friends or to be connected with everyone on social media. Less really is better when you’re an introvert!
25. I don’t want you to fix me. I don’t need to be fixed. I like being me, just the way I am. If you take the time to get to know me, you’ll like me too!
There are so many more things that could be added to this list, but it’s a good start. It’s good to remember that not all the items on the list will apply to all introverts, after all each person is unique. Personality is made up of many components, with introvert/extrovert being just one aspect. Which items on the list apply to the introverts you know?
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!