What does it mean to be introvert? An introvert is defined on Introvert Dear as” someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone”. Introversion is a way for the introverted person to revitalize himself or herself by focusing on his or her inner world. Any type of activity helps the introvert through this process: reading, playing an instrument, writing and so on.
However. Introversion is still misunderstood. For what reasons? They are often depicted and considered as solitary, asocial, misanthropic or shy. Also, they are not enough visible in media and are often negatively depicted. Being alone is for the introvert necessary for his/her own well being. Introverts are not all the same, they are different types of introverts.
Different type of introversion
Nymag listed and described four types of introversion :
Social: Social introversion is the closest to the commonly held understanding of introversion, in that it’s a preference for socializing with small groups instead of large ones.
Thinking; Thinking introversion is a newer concept. People with high levels of thinking introversion don’t share the aversion to social events people usually associate with introversion. Instead, they’re introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective.
Anxious: Unlike social introverts, anxious introverts may seek out solitude because they feel awkward and painfully self-conscious around other people because they’re not very confident in their own social skills.
Restrained: Another word for this one is reserved. Restrained introverts sometimes seem to operate at a slightly slower pace, preferring to think before they speak or act. They also might take a while to get going — they can’t, for instance, wake up and immediately spring into action.
This is not an exhaustive list. It’s to give an idea of how introversion shows itself from different angles. Now that you have a global idea of what introversion is, let’s take a closer look at how it is scientifically explained.
Scientific reasons for introversion and extroversion
The neurotransmitters and the nervous system work in different ways by introverts and extroverts. Sympathetic and parasympathetic are the two parts of the nervous system. Introvert dear explains in its article that “when your sympathetic system is activated, your body gears up for action”. “On the other hand, when you engage the parasympathetic side, your muscles relax, energy is stored and food is metabolized”. Extraverts have a tendency to use more the sympathetic one and the introverts the parasympathetic one. For the neurotransmitters, “Neurotransmitters are basically chemicals that signal activity brain“. Extroverts stimulate more the dopamine, “which causes excitement from external rewards” explains an article from ALYG. Introverts stimulate more the acetylcholine which provides a feeling of well-being by turning inward.
Through these scientific explanations, one would expect a more objective representation of introverts in the media. However, introversion remains misunderstood and introverts are mostly negatively portrayed in the media.
Stereotypes on introverts in media
The media is often accused of simplifying by stereotyping a group of people. Stereotypes can be based on age, gender, origins, character and so on. Introverted people are not spared. As we saw in the introduction, being an introvert is often confused with other character traits: asocial, misanthropic, naive, shy or intelligent. These are character traits I found for each of those fictional TV show characters. For example, Dr.House, Raj and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, Daria or Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I took these examples that I took as I watched those tv shows. What bothers me most is that these character traits are always connected to introversion. But being introverted does not necessarily mean being social, shy, misanthropic, naive or highly gifted. These character traits that describe an introverted person portray introverted people negatively and grossly.
Unlike fictional extroverted characters. They are smiling, welcoming, charismatic, and so on. By emphasizing what is considered a flaw, also point out that the fictional introverted characters are, in a certain wa, not normal. And that’s exactly the impression I had growing up as an introvert.
I’m introvert but I’m cool with it
Introversion can also hide a lack of self-confidence, a lack of self-esteem or due to trauma. I am an introverted person. My introversion evolved while being exposed to domestic violence. I had no one to talk to. I gradually began to do activities to make me forget this daily violence. This involved writing and listening to music. I grew up in a family where almost everyone was either ambivalent or extroverted. I am often told that I am calm, that I don’t talk much or that I am cold. What I have also been told so many times is that I am antisocial. No, I’m not, I select who belongs to my inner circle. These comments show the negative perception that many have of introversion. But I’ve never been ashamed to be as I am.
I must admit that sometimes I have had moments of doubt. I felt influenced by this pro-extraverted culture and the need to “improve” certain aspects of my introverted personality, to be “more extroverted”. Regarding my relatives, they understand that it is part of my personality and that there is nothing wrong with being introverted. The main challenges I face as an introvert, are in the workplace.
Being introvert at work
At work, I clearly feel uncomfortable. Being in an open space is one of the worst things for an introvert. We hear everyone’s conversations, we have to show up and participate. There is also a lot of noise and it distracts and disturbs me to work. I find it unfair that almost all workplaces have adopted this famous open space rule. Some people need their own space to be productive. I am not a fan of small talk, I find these discussions very superficial and we have to pretend that everything is fine. Meaningful discussions are what I prefer as I get energize and get to know people better. So when it comes to small talk, I might as well not talk. Then pretending to care about what you did on the weekend or your new hairstyle, it’s not for me.
What I also can not stand is this constance reassurance, as told in an Introvert, Dear article. ” There’s a constant need for people to be involved not just in your work, but also with you. This daily download of fake smiles, oversharing, and the need to reassure your coworkers can be overwhelming at the best of times. I feel like I am constantly on display and need to prove my value to the team and company. Just doing my job isn’t enough. “. This is exactly what I feel at my current workplace and it affects somehow my mood and my energy. Yes, I complain a lot about this extrovert world but I will give you also tips on how to live well an introvert.
Tips for introverts part 1
These are tips I would have liked to have had to better accept my introvert side. First of all, don’t force yourself less introvert. At some point, we are all tried to change our introvert side. We think that by being extroverted, we will feel better about ourselves and be more accepted. We all have those moments where it’s harder to accept ourselves as an introvert. It’s totally fine. But I think in those moments, the things that can help you feel better, are writing what you feel, walking, playing sports or talking to another introverted person, anything that let you express your worries and you leave them behind you.
The second advice I can give is to take time for yourself. It is necessary to take the time to recharge your internal batteries with your favorite activities. Sometimes you have to say no to your friends for going out and it’s necessary for your well-being. Often, I quickly feel overwhelmed by the fact of socializing, of going to events. I tell myself that I have to share moments with my friends but also socialize to make my blog known. But at some point, your body feels tired and you have to listen to it. This is when you need to practice activities that will provide you with the most energy, no matter what they are. It could be yoga, painting, drawing and so on.
Tips for introverts part 2
Finally, two last tips I can give.
The first one, and I think it is addressed to the youngest, is to find your “role model”. When you see a well known introvert person, you feel less “weird” and more “valid”, you feel you exist. As I was young, my role model was Daria. I found she had a lot of self-confidence, she totally accepted and embraced her introversion. The second is to not care about the judgments of others. Many will not understand your introverted personality but introversion is necessary for you, your well-being. So take care of yourself before taking care of what people think of you.
Being introvert can be difficult for a world made for extroverts. We have to manage our introversion, finding a balance between spending on our own and leaving our comfort zone. If you’re not convinced about it is awesome to be introvert, check this video out.
Nymag : So Apparently There Are 4 Kinds of Introversion
ALYG : The Neurological Differences Between Introverts and Extroverts
Introvert, Dear : Why Is Being An Introvert Difficult In The Workplace?