What an introvert is (and what an introvert isn't)

What an introvert is (and what an introvert isn’t)

When I was younger, I was one of those kids who was scared of everything, but especially people I didn’t know (and don’t even get me started on people dressed in Disney costumes – terrifying).

Now I’m all grown up (apparently) I’m pleased to say I’m over this fear and enjoy meeting new people and generally being social. Not going to lie, people dressed up in costumes still aren’t my fave, but whatever.

Having said this, over the last few years I have educated myself on personality types and realised I am, at my core, an introvert.

This means I have to do certain things that may be different to other people to feel energised. There’s quite a lot of misconception about what an introvert is, so I wanted to share my piece and hopefully answer the questions about what an introvert is, and what an introvert isn’t.

Before we get into this, a little disclaimer – we are ALL different. This includes fellow  introverts, although we share characteristics, it works on a sliding scale and we all have different tendencies and limitations. Below is my experience of being an introvert.

What an introvert is

Someone who gets energy from alone time

This is the crux of introversion. Being an introvert means you need to carve out some quiet, alone time every now and then to feel recharged. Extroverts on the other hand get their energy from being around people.

Part of my ‘self-care’ routine, i.e. looking after my mental health, includes dedicating time to be alone. Recently I had a few full-on weekends socially, which was great fun, but also a little exhausting. So, when I had a free weekend between engagements, I took the opportunity to have some quiet time with both hands.

When some friends invited me out for drinks that weekend I was honest and said I needed a couple of evenings alone. It’s hard not to get ‘FOMO’ when you turn down nights out, but I knew there would be plenty of chances to see them and having some downtime simply took priority.

Someone who enjoys in-depth conversation

Introverts typically don’t enjoy small talk, instead favouring in-depth, meaningful conversations.

I am not totally adverse to small talk, but I do find it difficult to chime in when there’s a big group talking. I would rather stay quiet and then have more meaningful conversations with people later on, one-on-one.

Someone who likes working in a quiet environment

Noise can be one of those things that over stimulates and therefore tires out introverts. This can make working in a loud environment quite difficult – especially if there are lots of conversations going on and everyone’s competing to be heard.

As someone who spends most of their day at work either reading or writing, I can relate to this. While I welcome the odd ‘chat break’ with my colleagues, there are certainly times when I have to put my headphones in and shut everyone out for a bit. Luckily my brilliant team are very similar, and we often go into headphone mode together!

What an introvert isn’t

Someone who’s shy

People often label someone who doesn’t speak up much as ‘shy’. Yes, of course, some introverts are shy and nervous about speaking, but many aren’t. It’s not a case of being shy necessarily, more a case of not speaking until they have something meaningful to contribute.

I used to be labelled as shy and quiet at school, and I hated it. Now, I don’t think people who know me would describe me as shy. I’m pretty confident in myself, I just choose my moments when it comes to talking.

Someone who hates being around people

Another common misconception. Being around big crowds of people for long periods of time for introverts can be draining – but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy it!

I love socialising, meeting new people and being around people in general. I just know that to stay energised, I need to intersperse some alone time.

There are some people in my life who, after spending time with, I actually feel incredibly energised. Any time I see my boyfriend or my girls, I feel lifted. On the flip side to this of course, there are people who I spend time with who do the opposite. This doesn’t mean I like them any less, I just have to be a little more considerate when making plans with them.

Someone who hates parties

Noise, light, people – parties combine all the things that have the potential to drain an introverts energy. Does this stop introverts from attending parties and having fun? Hell no. It may mean they need to take a five minute break to get some air. It may mean they don’t attend every party going. It may just mean that they don’t stay all night.

I love a good party/night out/social gathering. Give me a few rums, some good music and I am happy. Sometimes I struggle to last all night and have to head home early. Sometimes I’m all spent energy-wise and have to decline an invitation.

It’s all about balance. The more you understand yourself, what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, the easier it is to find this balance.

I didn’t truly understand introversion until I read ‘Quiet‘ by Susan Cain, which I highly recommend. Since then, things just made sense and I stopped making excuses for my behaviour. I simple adjusted my actions to ensure I stay energised. Simple.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

“A little hibernation is good for the mind.” – Michaela Chung

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