Why Introverts Don’t Have to Try to Be More Extroverted

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Sometimes it seems like the world smiles on extroverts.

They may appear to be more popular and well-liked, they may be more likely to be chosen for leadership roles, and it may even seem like society is more likely to recognize their accomplishments.

This can set up a misleading equation because if extroverts seem more valuable somehow, it may seem like the inverse is true too. That introverts, who are often depicted as the exact opposite of extroverts, are less significant in comparison.

This premise of course, although often accepted on the surface, is totally flawed. No one would use the term extrovert to describe Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, for instance, yet they both achieved great success and built incredible global brands.

It’s more complicated and nuanced than that.

Many people think that introverts don’t appreciate the company of others. Rather, they are assumed to be recluses who prefer to lock themselves in their rooms all day. In reality, however, introverts can actually be socially successful, extremely effective communicators, and experts at establishing strong, lasting relationships. They don’t avoid all relationships. They just handle relationships differently.

Yes, some introverts DO find social occasions with lots of people daunting, but others just prefer smaller meetings solely because they can hold more meaningful discussions with the people involved. Often, they don’t dislike group gatherings. They are just making a conscious choice to invest in a few friends that have longterm potential rather than, say, trying to meet every single person at a party.

This means, being shy and being an introvert are not necessarily synonymous. As Michaela explains on her blog, we all know someone who was very quiet and shy at school but became more outgoing and confident as they grew older. People can grow out of being shy as they develop a greater sense of identity and become more confident. But introversion is part of someone’s personality and is unlikely to ever change.

How to know if you’re an introvert

You need time to yourself. If you’re an introvert, it may seem like you NEED some time to yourself to be able to collect their thoughts and process what’s happening in their lives. If you’re a introvert, when you get the opportunity, you might just decide to stay in and read a magazine or watch a film instead of going to a party purely because you want to re-energize. You know it’s not a big deal though, you’ll just catch up with your best friends another day.

You know when to voice your opinion. If you’re an introvert, you may struggle to grasp why some people talk constantly, even if they have nothing to say. To you, they may appear to love the sound of their voice and lack any form of internal verbal quality control. You may find that you really enjoy meaningful conversation and you may also prefer a lot of alone time to analyze your interactions thoroughly. This means that although you may not be the first to voice your opinion, when you do choose to offer insight, people are more likely to respect what you say because they know you don’t offer ideas lightly. This often leads to your opinion having more weight than someone who offers theirs when no one really asked for it.

People often contact you before you contact them. If you’re naturally introverted, you might be less likely to pass the time by picking up the phone and calling your friend and instead choose to dive into a book you’ve been waiting for ages to finish. Just because you enjoy solitary activities doesn’t mean you don’t care about your friends, it’s just that you don’t crave their attention. And filling your schedule with tons of round-the-clock people doesn’t energize you. This is why introverts often have a close knit group of friends who they see regularly, but get tired out when trying to maintain lots of superficial relationships in order to maintain the social butterfly image.

The truth of the matter

Many people are not purely extroverted or purely introverted. Instead, most people are somewhere on the spectrum and have some extroverted qualities and some introverted ones.

If you’re introverted, there’s no reason to pressure yourself to act like an extrovert. In reality, in fact, most of us aren’t either purely introverted or completely and totally extroverted and we wouldn’t work better if we were purely labeled one or the other. Rather most of us tend to fall somewhere on the spectrum, having a few qualities of extroverts even if we’re mainly introverted (or vice versa).

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