In her New York Times bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain found that one third to half of the world’s population is an introvert. That’s a lot of people who would pick pj’s and Netflix on weeknights over booze and bars.
Because we live in an “Extrovert Ideal Society” as Susan calls it, people tend to judge a successful individual as someone who is readily sociable, has verbal fluency, and quick, decisive answers. Yet in an experiment run by developmental psychologist Avril Thorne, the two personality types were found to play yin-yang to each other, balancing each other to a surprising degree.
In the study, 52 women (26 introverts and 26 extroverts) were asked to have a 10 minute conversation. It turned out that both personality types appreciated and longed for the qualities of the other. When talking with an introvert, extroverts felt they “didn’t feel pressure to be falsely upbeat,” while introverts described talking with an extrovert as “a breath of fresh air.”
So while it often seems as though extroversion is the way everyone ought to be, introverts are far more than serious, sensitive types who just need to “come out of their shell.” They’re equal partners in the dance of life, with their own strengths and gifts.
It’s time to celebrate being an introvert: relax into that comfy pillow on the sofa corner, prop your legs up, rest the popcorn on your lap, and enjoy your Veep binge guilt-free.
12 ways to embrace your inner introvert
- Have intimate, one-on-one conversations.
- Spend creative time alone (although some introverts like to pick cafes that provide a background social setting.)
- Next time you go out to a social event you’ve been dreading, reward yourself afterward with an hour of alone time to spend anyway you choose (called “restorative niche.”)
- If you don’t feel like going out, call a good friend and ask them to come over for a movie night or cookie-baking (before they have the chance to invite you somewhere.)
- Don’t feel pressure to host a big party for your birthday—if you want a quiet dinner with a couple of friends, do it. It’s your birthday, the one day of the year where it’s all about what you want.
- Dp sad movies, beautiful opera performances, and a touching melody leave tears in the corners of your eyes? It’s normal, many introverts are “highly sensitive,” so come prepared with a tissue packet in your bag.
- Don’t like answering phone calls? Stick to email and texting.
- Don’t enjoy conflict with your partner? Write your partner a letter expressing yourself.
- Alone time is crucial to introverts but sometimes it can seem like you are rejecting the company of your partner, friends, or family. Communication is critical—explain that you need down time first to refresh yourself and then you’ll be able to spend time together much more enjoyably.
- It’s ok not to “need’ the latest craze—introverts are relatively immune to the lures of wealth and fame, so focus on obtaining the things you value and want instead.
- If you like to “dive in” when working, avoid distractions by setting an alarm on your phone for when you need to move on from your current task, then place it out of sight and turn your emails off automatic update.
- Like parties but find you’re ready for bed before your friends are? You don’t have to feel guilty about excusing yourself early—your friends will be happier that you came than didn’t come at all.
Feature image by james_sickmind/Flickr