Introvert woman sitting on her couch with her cat and reading a book

Introversion From an Introvert’s Perspective

“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”

– Cheryl Strayed

Introverts are highly misunderstood creatures. We are often viewed as loners or outcasts. Some may say we are shy and unable to make friends easily. But for me and I’m sure for many introverts out there, descriptions such as these aren’t the most accurate.

While I am generally a quiet person, I wouldn’t consider myself as someone who is always shy ( I can be on occasion) or someone who can’t make friends. And I would bet to guess that others like me feel the same way.

Introverts are perfectly content with just a handful of close friends rather than maintaining multiple acquaintances. There is no doubt that we prefer aloneness over togetherness. But we also enjoy the company of others from time to time (just in small doses).

Over the course of my life, I have come to realize that introverts are different from most humans. And the world isn’t afraid of letting us know that either. The reality is we all live in an extroverted world. And for introverts, it can be a challenge to fit in with the rest of society; especially when you’re expected to be someone you’re not.

A lot of extroverts aren’t shy with pointing out what they view as “odd” characteristics of an introvert. Rather than ostracizing introverts, I believe it’s important to understand and embrace the unique qualities that introverts have to offer. There are still a lot of misconceptions about introverts out there.

So as an introvert through and through, I wanted to take some time and clear up some of those misunderstandings.

What Introverts Are 

Introverts are complex, emotional beings just like any other human. However, rather than getting our energy from social settings, we thrive in solitude and reflection. If we don’t get it, we become mentally and physically drained.

We prefer intimate discussions – either one-on-one or with a few close friends as opposed to engaging with a large group of people. And having a quiet night at home is preferred over having a night out on the town (although we do enjoy going out occasionally). It’s just how we are and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

At school or at our job, you may find us studying or working on our own. Whenever we have to do either with a group, we become easily overwhelmed and have difficulty concentrating. By working alone, introverts can focus on what needs to be done rather than struggle with the social side of working with a group.

We also don’t like being at the center of attention. In fact, most introverts will avoid any scenario that involves having eyes on them. We prefer to lay low, observe, and enjoy the moment rather than being in the spotlight. We would rather receive quiet praises over large, public ones.

And the same holds true if we’re ever being criticized. This may seem like we aren’t open to criticism, but that simply isn’t true. We just ask that it be discussed privately rather than in front of everyone. 

We are also extremely introspective. Our thoughts and ideas are truly our own personal world, and we get lost in it often. Introverts tend to need time to ponder before an idea can be accepted or a plan can be implemented. We don’t take our thoughts lightly and consider all aspects prior to moving forward. But that doesn’t mean we’re not ever spontaneous. Occasionally, I too like to be impulsive and make a leap for it.

What Introverts are Not

Introverts aren’t some set of humans that must be fixed. We aren’t rude or socially inept. We also don’t hate people. Introverts just need time away from others to rejuvenate. Personally, if I am around people for an extended period of time, I start to become exhausted, grouchy, and just plain unpleasant to be around. Extroverts may feel the same way when they spend too much time alone.

We also aren’t afraid to talk to you. Just because we choose to keep quiet doesn’t mean that we don’t ever have anything to say. An introverts’ thoughts are precious to them. We aren’t just going to speak our mind without serious consideration for what comes out of our mouth. We really do think before we speak, not because it’s the right thing to do. But because we want to ensure that what we say has meaning.

Our Solitude is Everything

Extroverts tend to take an introvert’s need for alone time as a personal thing, but that’s not at all the case. We frequently get asked “why” from people who may not know us that well. But please – don’t take an introvert’s need for solitude personally. It has nothing to do with you and is just something that is needed for survival.

To an introvert, solitude is literally our everything. It is our energy source and our safe haven. My alone time provides me with the space that I need to reflect on my thoughts and decompress. The stillness recharges my mind and allows me to face this extroverted world much more confidently. 

Shyness and Introversion 

The world has a tendency to view introverts as aloof and shy. While an introvert can be timid, the important thing to keep in mind is that not all introverts are shy. Shyness and introversion are completely two different things. 

Shyness is when someone feels awkward and nervous in social situations and fears being judged by others. Sometimes this can cause a person to avoid social situations or at the very least, struggles to get through them. On extreme levels, being “painfully” shy can even cause someone to be totally withdrawn from society altogether.

In contrast, introverts would just rather be in an environment in which they are less stimulated. If I am in a room with two or three people versus ten people, I am more likely to engage in conversation; simply because I don’t have stimulation overload. When there is too much going on, my mind gets jumbled, and I may freeze up. Sometimes, I may even step away from the discussion to decompress and re-energize.

But You’re Not an Introvert!

Occasionally, when describing myself as an introvert to someone who doesn’t know me, they will respond back asking, “You’re an introvert? I would have never thought that.” Usually, they’re caught off guard as I’ve appeared more outgoing in our limited interactions.

While it’s true that introverts are good at being extroverted when needed, it’s also true that every single human being has both introversion and extroversion within us. That’s the beauty of it all! We’re not all programmed to be one or the other in every single situation and we can be a mix of the two.

For me, it depends on the environment that I am in. It also depends on the people that surround me. If you’re someone with a strong personality in which you are forceful with your opinions, I may keep quiet and reflect on the conversation rather than speak my mind.

The Trick to Being an Introvert in an Extroverted World

So, what’s the big secret to being an introvert in a world that’s not made for us? It’s simple – just be you. Don’t try to change your introversion. It is a beautiful thing and will always be a part of you. 

The world would be a dull place if everyone came into it wired the same way – so embrace your true self. Once you realize and accept that this is how you are, you’ll see the world in a different light. Hopefully one in which a new and exciting life has unfolded before you.  

So, fellow introverts! What does being an introvert mean to you?

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