“Introversion” and “extroversion” (or “extraversion”) are terms popularized by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung to describe personality traits. Everyone exhibits aspects of both traits, but usually one is dominant. Extreme extroverts are the “life of the party,” very social and engaging. They like lots of contact and get their energy from outside stimuli – interacting with others energizes them. Extreme introverts are, as you may have guessed, just the opposite. They find external stimuli, whether people or commotion or excessive multitasking, draining and therefore need quiet time to recharge. This doesn’t mean introverts don’t like contact or extroverts can’t stand alone time, just that when the individual engages in things that aren’t natural to their dominant trait, they go to different corners to recharge their batteries.
Statistics show that there are far more extroverts in the world than introverts – to the tune of 75% to 25% in some studies. Since the latter group, of which I am a member, is the subject of this blog, I will focus mostly on its characteristics. However, as we live in a society that is generally extroverted in nature, I will of course talk of that as well. Extroverts and introverts often have a hard time understanding each other, being diametrically opposed, but since we each have both traits inside of us, that helps matters.
Introverts, as I understand them (and myself), have a rich inner world. They often prefer the company of their own thoughts to interaction with others, and are deep thinkers. As such, they don’t like being put on the spot since they process information differently than extroverts and need time to think before they speak (it has actually been proven that a true introvert’s brain is wired differently than a true extrovert’s). As a result, they don’t like interviews, prefer the written word to the spoken, and loathe the telephone -and especially cell phones. They can’t imagine why anyone would want to talk on the phone all day. Sounds like an introvert version of Hell.
When introverts spend lots of time around others in a social setting, they get drained of energy. It takes a lot of effort for them to exert themselves socially, and this makes them weary. The only remedy for this is quiet time with their own thoughts, or with an equally introverted friend or partner. Admittedly, too much of this becomes troublesome as well, but it is generally better tolerated and in larger quantities than an extrovert could withstand.
Introverts are not necessarily shy – though they can be – but prefer a small circle of intimate friends to large numbers of acquaintances (the number of “friends” on their Facebook page is no doubt less than their extrovert counterpart’s). Their preferred activities might be reading, writing, computers, watching movies, gardening – all solitary activities. Professionally, they are often scientists, researchers, mailmen, accountants, artists, writers, composers, inventors. They tend to be intelligent, calm, good listeners, independent and responsible. Famous introverts include Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Schultz.