My Two Cents on Being an Introvert

This post is a bit off the topic of knitting, sewing, and other craftiness, but I hope you find it an interesting topic!

During the last few years, I’ve been reading quite a bit about introversion, mostly because I am an introvert who also is interested in psychology and social interactions.  In 2012, a new book on the subject was released, called, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, so there has been some press lately about this new book in particular, and on the topic of introversion, specifically.

Evidently, there are as many different theories about what an introvert is as there are professionals studying personality traits, and in the general population, I believe that there are misconceptions and prejudices and judgements made about introverts that do them (or rather, us) a real disservice.  I don’t agree with everything that Ms. Cain writes in her book, but I do believe that the more people are made aware that introverts are not necessarily antisocial “hermits,” the better it is for society as a whole.

If you’ve ever taken a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality assessment, you may remember whether the first letter in your resulting four-letter “score” was an “I” or an “E.”  An “I” indicates a tendency toward “introversion,” and an “E” indicates “extroversion.”

My score is usually “INTJ.”  Some of those letters can be different depending when I take the test, but the “I” is always there.  And at the moment, I feel as if I’m on a bit of mission to educate people about that “I,” and introversion.

I don’t believe that being an introvert is a character “flaw,” or a mental illness, or a trait that can be significantly altered.  From the reading I’ve done; and what I know about myself, introverted relatives, friends and acquaintances; I know that introversion and extroversion result from differences in the way our brains process information.  Neither is right or wrong, good or bad, better or worse; and I believe that our world, society, businesses and even our smaller social systems need both introverts and extroverts to operate in a balanced and healthy way.  (The scientific information about pathways through the brain is particularly well described in The Introvert Advantage:  How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney, PhD)

Introversion is not the same thing as shyness, although introverts can be shy.  Extroverts can also be shy, and introverts can be personable and social and happy and healthy.  As I understand it, introverts need time on their own to revitalize, while extroverts need to be around other people to recharge.

Introversion is not something that develops; it is an innate aspect of our personality, while shyness may develop as a result of the environment we live in, and shyness can be overcome given a desire to do so, and practice and fortitude.

If you are an introvert or if there are introverts in your life (as I’m sure there are – whether you know it or not), I encourage you to think about your perceptions of what introversion is, and to read one of these books (My favorite is The Introvert Advantage.):

Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. New York: Crown Publishers, 2012. Print.
Laney, Marti Olsen. The introvert advantage: how to thrive in an extrovert world. New York: Workman Pub., 2002. Print.
Helgoe, Laurie A. Introvert power: why your inner life is your hidden strength. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks, 2008. Print.

And here are some other references and links:

“The Truth About Introverts.” PsychWorld | Psychology Inspired. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychworld.com/the-truth-about-introverts-2010-10>.

“10 Myths About Introverts | CarlKingdom.com :: Writer. Director. Artist..” CarlKingdom.com :: Writer. Director. Artist.. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.carlkingdom.com/10-myths-about-introverts>.

“Caring for Your Introvert – Magazine – The Atlantic.” The Atlantic — News and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national,  international, and life – TheAtlantic.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/03/caring-for-your-introvert/2696/>.

“Confessions of an Introverted Traveler – Features –  World Hum.” The Best Travel Stories on the Internet – Travel Writing – World Hum. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.worldhum.com/features/speakers-corner/confessions-of-an-introverted-traveler-20090309/>.

“Dispelling Ten Myths About Introverts  | Neurodiversity.” Neurodiversity. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.shiftjournal.com/2011/04/04/dispelling-ten-myths-about-introverts/>.

Greenberg, Melanie A., and  Ph.D.. “The Quiet Traveler | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/201010/the-quiet-traveler>.

Greenberg, Melanie A., and  Ph.D.. “Introversion vs. Shyness: The Discussion Continues | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-introverts-corner/200910/introversion-vs-shyness-the-discussion-continues>.

“Revenge of the Introvert | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201008/revenge-the-introvert>.

“The Myers & Briggs Foundation.” The Myers & Briggs Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://Myersbriggs.org>.

“You’re Being Lied To: Introverts.” You’re Being Lied To. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. <http://www.crazydougwolf.com/2011/07/introverts.html>.

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~ by katinkaknits on March 20, 2012.

4 Responses to “My Two Cents on Being an Introvert”

  1. What a cool coincidence – just two days ago I watched Susan Cain’s TED talk online and found it very inspiring.

    I love the points about changing the perception of introverts and also adjusting the educational system and workplaces to better accommodate both types of people would make a lot of sense.

    Supposedly I’m an ENFP but honestly most of the time it feels like that E really is an I 🙂

    If you (or anyone else) is interested, here’s the link to the TED talk.

    • Thanks so much for your comment! Yes, Susan Cain’s TED talk is really good! Thanks for sharing the direct link to it. There’s also a link on her website, and I linked to that with the title of her book, when I first mentioned it above. For an introvert, she’s really pushing herself to be out there in the media! That is truly and inspiration!

      • It definitely is, I can imagine how nervewrecking it must be. I haven’t looked at her website yet but I sure will! I really hope we’re moving towards a more balanced world and this subject is a major factor, I think.
        Thank you for posting it 🙂

  2. I loved this book and gave it to my older children to read. They felt validated and worthy as did I.

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