This post was inspired by a TED talk I watched this week, with the same title. (you can watch it here). Susan Cain decided to ‘speak dangerously’ and tell us why being introvert is more than ok! The main difference between introvert and extrovert people lies with how they get and spent their energy. It’s important to mention that no one is solely one or the other. Some people lean more to being introvert, like me, others to being extrovert, and you even have people that balance somewhere right in the middle.
Introverts like to devote their social energy to a small group of people, I for example prefer to have dinner with a friend over going to a party full of strangers. We don’t mind solitude, in fact we feel good when spending time alone. Introverts are more likely to think before they speak and will deliberate most steps in live before taking action or making a decision.
People that are more extrovert attach more importance to their social lives. They get their energy from interactions with people and tend to be more assertive. Usually, decisions are made more impulsively and they prefer to be surrounded by people rather than quiet environments.
Susan Cain mentions that our world is mainly focused on extrovert people. Which I do agree with. I sometimes feel like I have to be extrovert, like it is not OK to just be me. Ever since I was little I have been told to engage more in the group, to speak more, to get out of ‘my bubble’ etc. Feedback I’ve received from school and internships, that my work is good but I shouldn’t be so shy etc. I even followed a course on social skills, trying to be someone I am not.
And I know that all of these people have the right intentions. And I do agree with them on some points. I do agree with them that I should be less shy, because my shyness comes forward out of social fears and insecurity. I do want to work on that. But being shy and introvert are still two different things. What those people don’t seem to get is that for me, trying to be ‘more engaged’, as they describe it, costs me a lot of energy. And it’s not a one time investment. People are different. I express myself different, I think different, I act different, and I will feel or respond different in certain situations.
And that’s OK. Both extroverts and introverts have their own qualities, combined together, they make a great team. People already told me that I have a calming effect on them. You wouldn’t be able to guess when I’m nervous or stressed. It tends to calm others down as well. Introverts are often occupied with their inner thoughts and dreams, therefore they can be the creative ones. Who knows what is going on in our heads? 🙂
I’m also more of a listener than a talker, I’d like to listen to what others have to say. When I am in a group, I like to observe, not in a creepy way, but I just like to follow their movements and conversations, and like that get to know people in my own way.
Introverts also tend to avoid conflicts. For me that’s definitely the case. This could be a good thing, but sometimes I feel like I should step up more for myself. In any case we tend to be the ones who try to avoid conflicts in the group as well, and keep a peaceful atmosphere.
As I already mentioned I’m also not an impulsive person. This can be both a negative and a positive thing. I would never just jump into something before thinking it through. But sometimes my life could use a bit more spontaneity, which I can learn from more extrovert people.
While extrovert people probably have more friends and interactions, I am more than happy with the people I have in my life. I don’t make friends easily, but the ones I have are great and loyal ones. Some, I’ve been friends with for a long while, others are more recent. These are the people I feel most comfortable with, and strangely I am more outgoing when I am surrounded by them. And even though I do not always express it, I care a lot about these people.
Just to make sure, this post isn’t anti-extrovert people. It’s just to point out that each is great and powerful in their own way, and we can complement one another.