For most of us, the happy place we default to is within ourselves. We don’t look to others or external sources.
This is that kid who enjoys reading a novel by himself in the corner of the class.
That coworker who’s at the office party but is only talking to the two people at their table, or that friend who always makes plans with just themselves.
We have all experienced people with this type of personality (or we have this type of personality). We call them introverts.
I’ve always hated labels because it puts you in a box. However, understanding how you or other people show up in the world through personality types helps you relate with them better.
For instance, you will not try to impress others by showing up at all the boisterous parties you are invited to, knowing that it makes you nervous and exhausted.
You will be kinder to yourself and find ways to hang out with friends who don’t see your personality as an anomaly you should unlearn.
So, I’m not putting you in a box, but here are some signs that you are an introvert.
1. You love your “alone time”
With half of the world wallowing in FOMO (fear of missing out), you would still rather take some time alone to recharge rather than hop on with friends to the next big thing.
“Because you enjoy reflecting on your own thoughts,” psychologist Susan Whitbourne explained, “you’ll be less likely to get bored when you’re alone than someone who needs constant social stimulation.”
Introverts expend energy in social gatherings (unlike extroverts who are fuelled by socialization). While some people might want to spend the weekend with friends as a way of unwinding, you may choose to stay at home with your favorite book.
Introverts feel easily overwhelmed by too much social engagement, so you might find them leaving a party while the night is still young.
This does not mean introverts are anti-social (more on this in the next point).
2. You are selective in socializing
Whenever I get invited to go out with friends, I have a habit of asking, who else is going to be there? And when there’s a mention of any acquaintance that I wouldn’t consider a close friend, I get nervous and worried that I might not enjoy myself.
Introverts prefer to spend time with close friends who they can connect one-on-one with, and with whom they can have intimate conversations. They avoid superficial and random socializing.
This selective socializing is because intimate, introspective discussions energize introverts. They would choose this over big, boisterous parties with people they hardly know and might only have small talk with.
3. You’re introspective
Of course, what will introverts be doing by themselves if they are not deeply reflecting on their own experiences, emotions, and choices? They think better when they are by themselves.
Being deeply reflective on one’s life is a positive trait because, as Socrates says, “an unexamined life is not worth living”.
Introverts are content with planning their lives and reflecting on the past. They respond to internally generated stimuli; thus, introspection fills them with more peace.
While extroverts derive joy from external interactions, introverts can recentre themselves when they go deep into themselves.
Also read: 6 Reasons Why Introverts Are So Charming
4. You’re more observant
Introverts are keen to observe their surroundings and notice things about people. You may be the first to notice a friend’s hairstyle or body language.
With the observation skills, you can read the room, pick up cues that other people might miss, and sometimes make richer connections and contributions to conversations because of this.
Extroverts are quicker to jump right in and engage with others in discussions, while introverts prefer to watch and gather as much knowledge as possible before they talk.
5. You’re drawn to individualized work
While some people thrive in work situations and careers that allow them to work with others, the reverse is true for you.
Introverts may thrive in areas like writing, artistry, and accountancy where they may not be required to have social engagements often.
This way, they have more time to reflect on their work. Introverts are at their best when they get the opportunity to dig deep into themselves, so it might be productive for people they work with to realize this and not force them into socialization roles.
They may not necessarily run from careers requiring them to engage in obligatory socialization, but they will be overly stimulated and thus may not choose these work areas.
6. You have a small circle of friends
For you, less is more when it comes to making friends. Introverts prefer fewer friends with whom they can form close-knit rather than a large group of friends.
They form long-lasting relationships with few friends and can have deep one-on-one relationships with people, even at parties where they have the option of interacting with many more people.
Susan Cain wrote in her book, Quiet,
“Introverts may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while, they prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family”.
With introverts, it’s the quality of connections over the number of people they talk to.
7. You listen more than you speak.
Introverts often take a listening position during a conversation. They are good listeners and would usually provide space for others to vent and share their emotions.
Unlike extroverts who may interrupt with questions and opinions, introverts think through what they want to say in response before they say it. This makes them slower at responding.
Because introverts listen more than they speak, they may not start talking about themselves or volunteering information that is not requested. This makes most people think it is not easy to get to know introverts.
In addition to their observant nature, introverts make for a good repository of facts and knowledge.
Introverts also prefer a slow-paced interaction that allows room for them to process, so their communication forms may favor more text messaging or emails than phone calls.
Also read: How to Be Charming as a Quiet Introvert
All you need to know
If you identify these signs in yourself, chances are that you are an introvert; that is okay. You do not need to change to become an extrovert. There is no proof that any of these personality traits are better than the other.
Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.
That said, it is crucial to demystify some misconceptions about introverts.
1. Being an introvert is a disorder
Researchers agree that introversion is not a disorder that you need to fix. Unlike what people might think, just because you prefer more alone time does not imply social anxiety or depression. Both introverts and extroverts can experience depression.
2. Introverts are shy
Experts explain that shyness is an emotion, while introversion is a personality type.
You might meet two people at a party, each standing by themselves. One might be alone because they enjoy the alone time, away from the energetic crowd, music, and interactions, while the other might be shy to engage.
Shy people are uncomfortable in front of an audience, they might be nervous and sweaty, so they skip social events to avoid all the negative emotions they experience.
On the other hand, introverts may be confident public speakers and charming with an audience; however, they prefer smaller groups or no social engagement just because they do not enjoy it.
3. Introverts are unfriendly
People often think introverts are being rude or unfriendly when they simply need time by themselves. As psychologist Susan Whitbourne said,
“Introverts are less likely to make social gaffes or get bored when they’re alone, but they can be mistaken for being aloof or snobbish.”
But friendliness has got nothing to do with you being an introvert or an extrovert. As has been emphasized, introverts prefer smaller circles of friends, and intimate one-on-one conversations, so you might never find them going around the room and chatting with everyone.
This does not make them unfriendly. In fact, because introverts are great at observing and listening, they might be pretty empathetic friends.
If you’re an introvert, you might wonder, is it possible to change and become an extrovert?
It’s not like you can just flip a switch and change who you are. Changing from an introvert to an extrovert is a complete change of personality.
You may seek to improve how you socialize with others or reduce the overwhelming feeling that overtakes you when you engage in social interactions.
If you seek to change your personality because of comments from others about how you need to “get better at socialising” or “get out there and join the crowd”, you must understand and embrace who you are.
The totality of your experiences in life makes you who you are, and you must not look to change because of what others think.