I am an introvert.
Does this mean I am among a minority of the population that is shy, anti-social, “snooty,” or worse?
Many people have misperceptions like these, which is why Psychology Today’s current issue has a feature story on the realities vs. the myths of introverts. Actually half of the people you meet on any given day are introverts.
According to the story, introverts are:
“Collectors of thoughts…(and) solitude is the place where the collection is curated…to make sense of the present and the future.”
Most of us don’t realize that there are many introverts, because “perceptual biases lead us all to overestimate the number of extraverts among us.” (Basically you extraverts take up a lot of attention :-).)
To me, being an introvert is extremely helpful in my professional role because it enables me to accomplish some very important goals:
- I can apply my thinking to large and complex issues. Because I gravitate to working in a quiet (i.e. professional) environment, I am able to focus on studying issues, coming up with solutions, and seeing the impact of incremental improvements. (This will be TMI for some, but when I was a kid I had to study with noise reducing headphones on to get that absolute quiet to concentrate totally.)
- I like to develop meaningful relationships through all types of outreach, but especially when interacting one-on-one with people. As opposed to meaningless cocktail party chatter – “Hello, How are you today?” “Fine. And how are you?” “Fine.” Help, get me out of here!
- I get my energy from introspection and reflecting; therefore, I tend to be alert to areas where I may be making a mistake and I try to correct those early. In short, “I am my own biggest critic.”
So while it may be more fun to be an extrovert—“the life of the party”—and “the party’s going on all the time”—I like being an introvert and spending enough time thinking to make the doing in my life that much more meaningful and rewarding.
[Note: Lest you think that I hold a grudge against extraverts, not at all—you all are some of my best buds and frequently inspire me with your creativity and drive!]