There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert.

 

It is 2006 and I have everything.  My husband is making professional athlete money as an executive at a hedge fund.  We have three healthy, beautiful, active, children.  We recently moved into a spacious and impressive home.  I am getting to know people by throwing dinner parties for my husband’s co-workers and attending neighborhood Bunco nights.  I have the life my mother always dreamed of and yet here I am sitting in a thin revealing gown on the sterile, crinkly white paper of my physician’s exam table asking for something to give me energy, return physical desire and stave off depression. The doctor writes a prescription for the anti-depressant Prozac.  I avoid eye contact with her as my face grows hot.

I have help cleaning the house and watching the kids.  I have so many external gifts that I must be absolutely perfect in my performances as wife and mother.  There are no reasons why I should not be able to design and juggle magnificent schedules, have profoundly happy children and a well-decorated home. And yet I find myself being short with the kids, emotionally overwrought and just plain sad.  I have no drive.  I tune out some of the noise and requests of me in order to get through the day.  I vacillate between extreme sensitivity and dull malaise.

The Prozac prescription comes with just enough stigma and fear of losing control to wake me up.  What is wrong with me?  Why am I failing when I have so much?

Self-Diagnosis: Introvert

Over the next year, I make it a priority to make space for me.  I don’t know it, but I am straining to hear my inner voice.  After much soul searching, many hours running on the treadmill, a few guitar lessons and a writing class, I notice a link to the website, IntrovertEnergy.com in an email from a former writing instructor.  I am curious, so I click on it.  A few more clicks and I am taking a self-assessment for introverts.  Do I find these statements to be true?

When I need a rest, I prefer time alone or with one or two close people rather than a group

When I work on projects, I like to have larger uninterrupted time periods rather than smaller chunks

I can zone out  if too much is going on

I don’t like to interrupt others; I don’t like to be interrupted

I can become grouchy if I am around people or activities too long

I often dread returning phone calls

I am creative/imaginative

I form lasting relationships

I usually need to think before I respond or speak

Yes, to every one of them!  Like a lot of people, I thought introverts were awkward, anti-social and reclusive.  I love people and visiting new places, so it did not occur to me that I could be introverted. My assumptions changed as I conducted a deep investigation into the ways and wonders of introverts.  As I uncovered truths about the introspective temperament, I discovered I AM an introvert, what that means, why it is a good thing, and how to navigate in an extroverted world.

What the Experts Say

All of us have introverted AND extroverted traits.  Temperaments exist on a continuum with one of the psychological types dominating.  According to The Introvert Advantage, Marti Olsen Laney’s bestselling book on the characteristics of introversion, 25% of all people are introverts.  A statistic from a 1998 Myers-Briggs computation of I or introverted personality types showed the introvert population to be as high as 50%.  Either way, chances are you or someone you know well, is an introvert.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not all shy bookworms.  The difference between introverts and extroverts is not social skills.  It is the way they recharge or gain energy.  The revered psychologist, Carl Jung, was the first to coin introversion as, life defined by the pursuit of solitude.  Introverts renew in solitude, from within.  Extroverts thrive on external stimulation.

The United States is especially keen on the extrovert persona.  In the U.S. it is cool to be an extrovert, wired for sound and pumped up by activity.  Our nation was built on rugged back-slapping go-getters who lived for adventure and mastery of the environment. Say the word introvert though, and blushing nerds with concave posture and faint voices come to mind.  This misleading perception and lack of understanding has led to the introvert playing the underdog for too long.

4 Things about Introverts Most People Do Not Know

1.      It is an innate temperament.  It is not a choice.  Introvert’s brains map differently.  The Introvert Advantage talks about the brain composition of an introvert. The dominate pathway of blood flow is longer and more complex.  Introverts use long-term memory more, therefore retrieving information takes longer.  The introvert brain integrates complex intellectual and emotional information better but requires more time.  It is not uncommon for an introvert to go blank when called on unexpectedly only to have the perfect response surface later.

The primary neurotransmitter circulating in an introvert’s main brain passages is acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that produces a good feeling when a person is thinking or feeling.  Extroverts have more dopamine in their primary pathways.  Dopamine is associated with movement, learning, and attention.

Introverts also tend to use the parasympathetic (put on the brakes) side of the autonomic nervous system while extroverts employ the (give it gas) sympathetic side resulting in more caution and less impulsiveness for the contemplative crowd.

I dreaded the improvisational part of my 7th grade drama class (no advance notice, quick thinking) but had no problem memorizing 100 lines for the starring role as a hillbilly.

In guitar lessons, I overthink and my fingers shake when I try to emulate the chords, melodies and strumming patterns of my teacher.  I have found it to be very helpful to write them down and practice at home. Being observed and asked to perform on the spot is difficult.

2.      Our primary source of energy comes from within.  Introverts find satisfaction in thinking, feeling, dreaming, and ideas.  Introverts are rarely lonely when they are alone. Solitude is where we find the quiet necessary to tap into the inner well and achieve clarity.  Many introverts need long blocks of uninterrupted time in order to complete a project or renew themselves.  We may appear to be aloof or self-centered but in truth we are mulling over the activities and conversations of the outside world to see how our internal world compares.  In making the universal more specific, introverts are able to put themselves in others’ shoes, one of our strengths.  This is not to say that introverts do not enjoy connecting with people.  We are just more comfortable cherishing and nurturing fewer intimate relationships.

Even though I become physically depleted while running, I step off the treadmill energized because my imagination bubbles up while I exercise alone.

I get up early in order to have time to write uninterrupted.

3.      External stimulation drains our energy.  The inner-life of an introvert is already so rich and complex that outside activity raises our level of arousal quickly.  Marti Olsen Laney (The Introvert Advantage) compares stimulation to tickling.  At first it feels good and exciting but after a while it is too much to handle.  Extroverts get pumped up from hits of socializing, technology and activity but introverts can easily become overwhelmed.  Crowds, noise, interruptions, back to back activities and chaotic environments are huge energy drains.  Each bit of stimulation takes our tank of energy down a notch until we are existing on fumes.  The antidote to large doses of stimulation is to withdraw to a tranquil space.

If there is no opportunity for renewal, we may feel like our brain is numb.  We may speak slower and take longer to gather our thoughts due to the longer neural pathways bottlenecking the processing of input. We may feel embarrassed or guilty because we cannot keep up with the fast paced, driven world.

Hours of back to back activities, cell phone calls, email chimes, and non-stop chatter render my brain a rubbery frog in formaldehyde.

I have an especially tough time in the summer when my three children are home.  Long days of constant stimulation leave me feeling like a wild rabbit in a cage, longing for the peace of the quiet woods.

4.      We prefer depth to breadth.  Introverts go deeper with fewer subjects and fewer relationships. Since energy is limited it is necessary for introverts to zero in on what is meaningful and beautiful.   Introverts enjoy pondering, exploring and savoring.  We like to take in outside information, mull it over and expand on it.  Part of the reason an introvert’s brain gets muddled is because they want to process every bit of data completely, chewing and digesting each morsel.  Too much information, just like too many people, can be hyper-stimulating.  At a party you will most likely find an introvert in a corner with one or two people in a meaningful conversation.  Small talk does not light up an introvert’s heart or mind.  Although an introvert may hesitate to speak about topics outside their knowledge, if given the chance to speak in a comfortable atmosphere about a subject near and dear to them, we introverts can talk for hours.  Visit any coffee shop to witness this phenomenon.

I used to get anxious before business dinner parties at our house.  I knew the small talk would be flowing and my mind would be preparing for evacuation.  I can only talk about schools, pools and kids’ camps for so long before I zone out and appear to have nothing to say.

I have researched and written about introversion extensively.

The Best Medicine

Like most introverts, I felt it was right to be busy and surrounded by people. I attempted to be extroverted.  With three children and a husband around all the time there was no escaping the crowd or high levels of stimulation.  I could not digest all the input and was wracked with guilt because of it.  I had to save myself and my family from breaking down.  According to Psychology Today’s 2010 article Revenge of the Introvert, Researchers have found that introverts who act extraverted show slower reaction times on subsequent cognitive tests than those allowed to act introverted. Their cognitive fatigue testifies to the fact that acting counter-dispositionally is depleting.

I began to recover by getting out of the house occasionally and engaging in purposeful (to me) activities involving a limited number of participants.  I started with personal fitness training (healthy, produces endorphins and one on one), moved on to guitar lessons (I feel music deeply and found an excellent introspective teacher), and then leapt to writing classes (who is more thoughtful and contemplative than writers?).

I stopped throwing dinner parties for large crowds of individuals I barely knew.  I found close friends in the meaningful activities I had chosen.  Although I prefer one on one time with companions, I know I can handle groups of think first, then talk people.  I even get energy from them.

As far as clearing the fogginess from my head, I have learned to manage my energy rather than my time.  I understand I have to incorporate renewal periods into my day.  I play on the computer, ask for help (very difficult), go for a walk, talk with a close friend , take a long shower ,exercise, meditate, read or nap when my circuits begin to overload.

I find comfort in knowing I am not alone by reading Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathon Rauch of The Atlantic.  It is hands down the most comical article detailing the traits of introverts. When Jonathon is not quoting Sartre, Hell is other people, he is reminding extroverts of their counterparts, Remember, someone you know, respect, and interact with every day is an introvert, and you are probably driving this person nuts.

Healthy Attributes

I still have days when I feel limited by my temperament.  When I do, I re-visit the special powers of introverts:

·        Rich inner life

·        Vivid imagination

·        Never bored

·        Rarely lonely

·        Foster deep relationships

·        Know themselves

·        Help others filter and slow down

·        Empathic

·        Independent

·        Able to concentrate for long periods of time

I never filled the Prozac prescription. Being a conscious introvert (term coined by Nancy Okerlund, life coach to introverts) gives me a sense of relief.  Ironically, I am soothed by knowing I  am NOT alone.  Being comfortable in my own skin (seeing it as normal skin) and appreciating the creative, contemplative and independent aspects of my nature gives me the strength to remove ill-fitting extroverted armor. I can bear being exposed as an inward thinker, non-joiner, and elusive type.   I am able to look people in the eye and say, I am an introvert.

 

*If you enjoyed reading about the introvert perspective, you might also like these articles: A Room of One’s Own, An Introvert Prepares for Summer Parenting, Thoughts for the Thoughtful,The Happy Introvert, Introverts, Idleness and the Beauty of Solitude.  Space2live is the perfect site for introverts and the people who love them.  The whole blog is about thoughtful vivid living.

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If you enjoyed this post you may also like:

Introvert Relationships: Love Me or Leave Me but Please Don’t Need Me (Too Much) – space2live

Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You – space2live

In Defense of Introverted Parents - space2live

What’s Wonderful? Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking -space2live

Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude AND Be Popular – space2live

 

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59 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert.

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  6. Really enjoyed this post. You described me to a tee. After years of pushing myself too hard and being constantly on the go, I have finally discovered that I am an introvert and need to treat myself as such. I have probably told you this before, but just had to say it again. I feel validated as a person every time I read your work. Thank you!

      • So true! You get a lot of thinking in when you feel down. All you want to do is move through it. It takes personal awareness and innovation to move out of it. When you hit bottom you have to figure out how to bounce.;) Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  7. I just discovered your blog after searching for “need to live alone”. I realize I AM an introvert, even though I LOVE people and want to be with them…..on MY terms.

    I give, give, give until I feel and act like a zombie. Then I switch sides, give only to myself, and take without giving back….I become mean, silent, angry, not a nice person….and this can last for months. I see the pain this causes my wife, and that causes me even more pain because I know I’m hurting her. It’s a vicious cycle that–I now realize–has been repeated in each romantic relationship I’ve had. I’m unable to find a balance between giving to others and giving to myself, so I ignore myself.. However, my closest friendships are thriving–and I’m convinced it’s because of the times I DON’T spend with them. Absence really DOES make my heart grow fonder.

    Since discovering the REAL definition of “introvert”, I’ve realized I have not “recharged” my batteries in over 6 years. I am no longer able to handle living with another person, and a few hours here or there of solitude make me feel minutely better–until I have to be with her again. It’s not enough. I feel the need to be alone for LONG stretches of time (6 months or more…..still being social, not ignoring my friendships, but having a space to retreat to that’s ALL mine…..). I love her, I want the marriage to work, but I can’t do it anymore. And I don’t think I can actually heal myself unless I end the relationship, whether temporary or permanently. And, of course, trying to heal myself is hurting the person I love.

    • I understand you. I also know how hard it is to admit that you need/want to be away from your partner for long periods of time. It goes against what we are supposed to want. During the end of my marriage I used to dream of taking off for a year and traveling. My guilt for this was compounded because I also have children but there still was that deep longing for space and time and socializing on my terms.

      Giving until the well is dry is exhausting.

      How much does your wife know about introversion? Is she an extrovert? Perhaps if she had further awareness about introversion she might be more willing to let you take time to yourself (like a month or so). I read a book called, A Year by the Sea by Joan Anderson. It might resonate with you. The wife separates from her husband for a year. It gives her a chance to develop herself and find perspective.

      I’ve often wondered if married couples took a year off from each other if that would re-energize their relationships. Would that prevent a divorce or let the individuals drift farther apart?

      Know you are not alone in this strong need for solitude or selective socializing. Communication and awareness are your best tools for working with your wife. Let her read some of the posts on space2live.

      I’m sure you have tried shoring up your boundaries. It’s difficult to say no but in your case it could be essential. Explain to your loved ones your need to say no in order to be your best self.

      Thank you for your honest comment. Please keep us posted on your situation. Sometimes doing what’s best for you makes it better for everyone else.

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  10. Hi there, I am a resounding introvert and have been hounded by my colleagues about holiday plans and weekend plans for the last 15 years. Even now that I am a University lecturer and the holidays are even longer I still don’t make plans with anyone until I am truly ready and can go over 10 days at a time without feeling the need to meet up with anyone. I sometimes feel extremely lucky to have such understanding friends but the truth has also been that I’ve lost friends along the way due to my need for ‘alone time’ because of the energy draining job I have. I fear I now don’t have enough of a support network and, being the introvert I am, don’t seem to be able to make the effort to go out and cultivate new relationships (particularly when it seems the majority of people I come across naturally want to talk in the ‘chit chat’ way which I find exhausting) I feel as though I am in a vicious cycle – would anyone be willing to offer advice to help me ?

    • There is definitely an ebb and flow in many introvert’s need for connection. We relish solitude but then after a while we desire companionship. It can be confusing and/or disappointing to friends who cherish our presence.

      My first thoughts in response to your request for advice regarding building up your support network were:

      1. Is it possible to make your job less draining? Could you build in empty hours in your schedule so that you can recharge? Is a lecturer the same as a professor? Could you do more work from home?

      2. I have found lifelong mates in the places where I feel most at home. For me those places were: A writing center, a music school and a fitness class.

      3. If you find one good friend who aligns with your nature they can lead you to other individuals with whom you feel comfortable. A linchpin person.

      4. Share awareness and knowledge regarding introversion with your closest people. Helping them see introversion is a hardwired personality trait may ease their feelings of rejection.

      5. Perhaps you go away during the holidays and avoid all the invitations.:)

      I understand where you are coming from and hope you find the interaction balance you seek. May others read your comment and offer a response.

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  12. This article is really good. I know Im an introvert for a long time but its always nice to read more about it when people around me make me feel like a freak for wanting better to spend the weekend alone after a tough and exhausting week rather than exhaust myself some more with more social interaction. I cant function without my music, my writing and all my me-stuff. Raising kids takes almost all my energy so I love the weekends when theyre at their dads and I just stay by myself doing my kids alone all weekend! It makes me feel so good but then when my roommate starts looking at me like Im an hermit , I start thinking about going out with a friend. Sometimes I daydream about a world where everybody gets me and I don’t have to answer the I dont understand you’s and are you okay’s and could just spend my life there. I tend to glow and be in awe with the most simplest things and get confused with extroverts point of views but its always nice when I find someone like me that I can connect with and talk about things that matter, that’s what lifts me up!

    • I am so with you.:) I love an empty afternoon or evening or even a whole day. Music, writing and me-stuff is so energizing. I need all the energy I can muster. Raising kids takes a good portion of my fuel. I have to re-charge in low stimulation. Hugs to you. I get you.

  13. Thank you so much for this article! I knew I wasn’t an extrovert but I had never really given it much thought. I often wondered why I was regularly so exhausted trying to keep up with my friends social life and amazed at their seemingly endless energy. I even went to doctors thinking there must be something wrong with me, either anaemia or depression…surely something could fix me!
    I feel relief that I am an introvert, I’m not shy but I enjoy my own time. I love being home alone and I feel comfortable enough in myself to be able to retreat to my solidarity when I need it. Even if it means missing out on social events or even work oportunities. Other people don’t understand sometimes but that’s fine, ultimately I have to look after myself first then I’m able to be the best friend, family member or partner that I can be :-)

    • You are wise KJP to know what you need and go for it. It takes courage to do that sometimes. Keep on being authentic and true to yourself. You will glow with satisfaction.:) Thanks for sharing your story. I totally thought there was something wrong with me too and asked a doctor to help. Nope, just needed a break from all the noise and people.;)

  14. Someone on Tumblr linked to your blog, and I am now spending my evening reading it and rejoicing that you put into words many things I have been trying to articulate. I am an introvert (and a shy one too, alas), and have been all my life. At age five, I spent every afternoon after kindergarten playing quietly with my dolls—alone and fully content.

    The most helpful part of this post: “Small talk does not light up an introvert’s heart or mind. Although an introvert may hesitate to speak about topics outside their knowledge, if given the chance to speak in a comfortable atmosphere about a subject near and dear to them, we introverts can talk for hours.”

    This. Is. Me. Thank you so much for this. I have been trying to build new relationships, especially at my church, and my impatience with chit-chat has left me feeling like I’m a bad person. I loathe small talk and feel like I will go insane if I have to hear too much about the children I’ve never met of acquaintances I barely know, or someone’s new curtains. I know those things are important to some, but all too often I feel out of my depth. I’m always eager to deepen relationships, but I want to do that by sharing ideas and experiences, or discussing hopes and goals for the future, and I get frustrated when conversation never goes beyond the new restaurant in town or a great thrift-store purchase.

    • I just figured out the small talk/frustration connection a few years ago. My mind and spirit want to soar on meaningful topics like the ones you listed – ideas, hopes, goals, inspirations, feelings, etc. It amazes me how many people are content sticking with inconsequential topics far removed from their inner most dreams and ideas. I suppose ‘heavy or big talk’ is draining to others. Honor the differences and seek out the company of those who energize you I guess.;)

      Thank you for your comment. I think we are kindred spirits. I love your writing too! Also, I spent many many hours playing with dolls when I was a girl. Such quiet companions, so willing to listen to our thoughts.:)

  15. I was forwarded to your website by a Yahoo Answers helper and boy, am I grateful for their mention. When I read through these introvert articles and now finally know WHY I am seen as “different” or “difficult to understand” to family and friends, I just sat and cried for a few minutes because after all of this self-hate, all of this “the only way to solve your social problems is to be more social – interact with public, make phone calls more”, at last I can respond with a simple answer: I’m an introvert. The ironic thing for me is that I think I like to hang out with extroverts best! Is this expected of us introverts? I do have an incredibly close friend who I think must also be an introvert, but the problem is that sometimes we run out of things to do because neither of us will encourage the other to go out into the “real world” or out of our comfort zones. I’m certain that my mum’s an extrovert. She’s absolutely lovely but, much like my previous self, she doesn’t understand why I’m different. She always tells me that I am this way because I don’t get out enough, or I don’t challenge myself enough. She even wrote me a challenge list, including challenges such as running a stall at the local school fair, joining a badminton club and applying for a job at a garden centre. But these all throw me right off…too many people! Too many minds to try to predict and tend to all at once. I can understand why she’s doing this – she only wants to help! But I can now tell her that we can stuff the challenges because I need a different approach.

    A big giveaway to me, after reading these articles, that I am an introvert is that I’ve always seemed to be noticed for my intense deep thinking, ability to put myself in other’s shoes and creativity. The factors that made it click for me most, however, were that introverts seem to blank or take longer to respond when being confronted unexpectedly. I do this so very often and sometimes people would think me rude for blanking them. I’d feel embarrassed and under pressure so I would babble out a quick answer which I had not applied enough thought to – the result? A load of gobbledygook which causes the person expecting an answer to exhibit a very blank, confused expression. This made me begin to question if I had some sort of mental disability.

    The funny thing which relates yourself (author) and I is that I also felt exactly the same way in drama classes! I ended up getting a much better grade than expected in drama class; perhaps the teacher saw something in me which I could not see. Now that I come to think of it, I suppose I was never short of a drama/dance partner. I enjoyed coming up with creative dancing and acting ideas but when it came to actually performing them without enough practice, or even a script, this made me dive into a “flight” response and I’d often fake illness to get the day off school when we were expected to perform for an examination. It brings me great happiness to have learned such a key detail about myself which, without the help of YH Answerer and yourself, I probably wouldn’t have learned until a much later stage of life. Cheers to a less stressful and less confused life!

    Thank you for writing these articles, thank you so much.

    • Oh I am soooo happy to hear that my little blog gave you a wonderful understanding of yourself.:) Please never feel “less than” because of your deep introspection and lack of quick responses. I bet you have so many introvert gifts, like a rich inner life and amazing listening skills.
      The solution to not feel different is definitely NOT being more social and forcing yourself into agonizing situations. Do what you love and you will soar as well as connect with like-minded individuals.

      Extroverts tend to worry about us because we don’t want to be constantly surrounded by others. They see it as anti-social and worrisome. We’re aren’t necessarily anti-social, just selectively social.

      I also love to be around extroverts. We tend to do more active adventurous things and that propels me into new experiences. I admire their enthusiasm and sometimes their energy is contagious. I also love my introverted friends. We have the long deep conversations and lovely quiet downtime watching movies, going for walks or reading.

      I have a thing about being observed when I am performing or speaking. It unnerves me a little which is why I had a hard time with guitar lessons and improvisational acting. If I have an abundance of time to prepare I am much more comfortable.

      Thank you for sharing your story. I am thrilled you have unraveled some of the mystery of your temperament. Embrace it and go forward. It’s a whole new world. Exploit your beautiful nature. I’m glad Yahoo Answers led you to space2live. :)

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  17. I was in my 40’s before I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. I watched Susan Cain’s Ted Talk and read her book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” and finally realized that I’m introverted, not depressed, anxiety ridden, anti-social or less intelligent than others. I’m terrible at making extemporaneous speeches, but I can speak at length when well prepared. I prefer to observe from the outside rather than jump in head first. Stressful situations make me fall asleep. I can’t multi-task to save my life. I’m uncomfortable in new situations with new people, but I have a wicked sense of humor and have a great time with close friends. The idea of going to a party fills me with such trepidation that I have to mentally prepare for days, all the while thinking of reasons why I can’t make it.
    As it turns out… I’m normal and there are millions of people just like me.

    • Isn’t it flipping incredible to know you are not alone? I am so like you. Even better to know – there is nothing wrong with your ways. They are just different than the culturally emphasized extroverted ones. In fact, there is a lot of value in introspection. Carry on and live vividly! Thanks for sharing. Truly appreciate it.:)

    • Christine, you just described my 16 year old daughter exactly! As an extrovert mom, I am REALLY trying to understand her! (“What do you mean you want to stay home and practice piano instead of going out with your friends?” “You don’t want to go live in a dorm? I LOVED living in the dorm!”) She has shown these traits from INFANCY! I remember taking her to my husband’s basketball game when she was only weeks old – she promptly fell asleep. And her first Gymboree class when she was 18 months old? She surveyed the entire hour, but did not participate until the next week. She is bright, talented, beautiful, and FUNNY – so it surprises me when I hear people describe her as “shy.” We decided this year to have her drop an AP class so that she could come home an hour early each day so she has time to be alone. While it went against her perfectionist tendencies not to “do it all” it has been wonderful to see how much happier she is by not having such a harried pace.

    • You’re reply really touched my core, I too spend great time with my close friends and they too appreciate it. Also now I can generalize introverts have good sense of humor and have their own pace to do the things.

  18. This article made me shed a few tears. Good ones though. I’ve been hopelessly jumping from one medication to another trying to “fix” me. In fact I havean aappointment in the morning to tell my doctor again that this stuff doesn’t work. I feel relieved right now that there are people that feel the way I do. Good read.

    • I so don’t want you to feel broken. The primary message I want to spread via space2live is that you are wonderful and valued with your introverted traits. I know so many of us feel compelled to be the constant extrovert because that’s what successful looks like in most cultures. Being true to yourself and honoring your needs for space and solitude will enhance your way of being and outlook. Don’t feel less than or guilty about your true feelings. Find a circle of kindred spirits and solidify a safe place to BE. These are the best gifts in the world. You are embraced here on space2live. Thank you for sharing so candidly.

  19. Thanks for sharing.
    Very similar to my own experience.
    Attempted to be party of the life extrovert subconsciously because I was surrounded by the majority of extrovert society and brought up that way. Always thought that’s the way to be.
    Now that I found out I’m an introvert and there’s nothing wrong with it, I’d stay true to myself.

    • Introverts are cool! :) Enjoy all the gifts introversion brings. Ability to concentrate, good listening skills, depth of curiosity, long term/meaningful relationships, rich inner life, etc.
      I spent my childhood trying to be outgoing like my sister. She got a lot of attention so I thought that must be the right way to be. Now I know her temperament isn’t better, just different. Sigh… it’s a grand new world.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  20. Interesting that I’ve come across your blog! I am, at the moment, reading Quiet, the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. Wishing that I could have found both a little sooner. Would have saved myself a lot of angst. But if wishes were horses…..

    • Susan Cain’s book is so validating. Be sure to check out her TEDtalk too. I love the saying, When the student is ready, the teacher appears. You must be ready for all this introversion material now.:)

  21. I’m an introvert rather firmly, but I’m personally fine with large crowds and small, intimate parties. What will tire me out in an hour flat, so much so that I’m falling asleep on the couch because I can’t keep awake, are the medium sized parties half-filled with people I don’t know but am still expected to interact with at some point. Thank you very much for writing about these kinds of things. I’ve read a couple of your articles on here and I’m very glad you do so much research for the rest of us. It’s helped me explain to myself, as well as others, that it’s perfectly fine to not want to be with others all the time and sequestering myself in my room or some other isolated area doesn’t actually make me wrong.

    • That is my most urgent message – It’s OK to desire alone time. There is nothing wrong or bad about you if you need that space.

      I like your point about medium sized parties being the most draining. There are expectations at those. You should mingle because you know a lot of people and you COULD get to know the rest. There is meaningful intimacy in small parties and lovely anonymity in huge parties.

      Thank you for commenting and reading. I appreciate your insight.:)

  22. “Their cognitive fatigue testifies to the fact that acting counter-dispositionally is depleting” YES! Cognitive fatigue….so it is a real thing :)
    I go to a weeklong yoga conference every year – by myself – and I decided this year to get a single room so I could ‘process’ at the end of the day.

    • Yes, I know I get rubber brained when I have to be “on” for too long. I need to find myself a week long conference with a room to myself. Sounds like heaven. :) Thanks for reading and commenting.

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  28. I’ve tested as an extrovert in tests in my earlier days, but as an introvert since having kids. I still need to go out and live it up once in awhile, and feed off that crowd energy when I do, but since life has brought me to a place where *when* I go out is no longer on my terms, I have a harder time enjoying it these days, and take much longer to recover afterward. This is another reason I need to move back to the Cities; I only get to see people outside my family once a month, so I feel I need to squeeze in as much as I can in only one or two days, and it’s draining. This past week in Chicago followed by one night in the Cities with Bear’s business contacts (at a nightclub, no less) just about killed me, and by the time I arrived on my grandma’s doorstep at 3am I was in tears. It’s going to take me a month to recover. I have to face it – once an extrovert is not always an extrovert. Life changes us. Thank you gor always being so insightful, just when I need you. ;)

    • That is so interesting that your testing results have changed since you have had children. I have read that we all become more sensitive with age. I know that is true for me. I also love to go out and kick up my heels. I do find energy in that sometimes, especially if it involves music. Music and deep companionship seem to combat the mental and emotional fatigue to a degree. I wonder if being more isolated (I have days to myself when the kids are in school) has an effect on how much stimulation we can handle overall. I understand the world tour craziness that occurs when you go home to see family. I have the same situation when I return to Michigan. I usually come home less overwhelmed though because my parents live out in the country and life is slower there. Thank you for reading and commenting Jessica. Your perspective is refreshing and much appreciated.:)

  29. Wow..all this time I didn’t know that I was an introvert or had introvert traits. Every one of the descriptions were ME!! When you were speaking about how you felt..I could relate so much..its like you were speaking the words for me. Thanks so much for sharing this sis!! :)))

    • In this crazy, fast paced, hyper-stimulated world I think more and more people are craving the introvert lifestyle – less noise, more space, more peace. I recommend you take the assessment, http://theadventurouswriter.com/blog/test-introverted-personality-traits-introversion-signs/. It’s more comprehensive than what I listed. I know you have introverted traits. Just knowing that can help with figuring out how to manage your energy. The Introvert Advantage is a good place to start researching. For me, it explained a lot about myself and the extroverts in my life. It shed some light on relationships. I’m so glad this post resonated with you. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Becca.:)

  30. An introvert myself, I use solitude, contemplation, yoga and meditation to recharge myself. Indulging this side of me allows me to more freely appreciate and enjoy the colors and layers of the world of the extroverts (there is a very teeny bit of that in me too).
    I really appreciate your passion to educate on introversion. I think many would find relief from feeling a sense of dispossession if they understood and embraced themselves.
    I’ve recently been following Susan Cain and am looking forward to her upcoming book. I’ve linked her blog here if you are interested : )
    Haven’t see you in ages ! I’ll make do with sending you a virtual hug right now! Miss you – I hope to see you, my happy introvert friend, soon !

    http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/2011/06/19/introvert-vs-extrovert-survival-strategies/

    • Diane I am so happy that you have found ways of renewing yourself. You are right, after you have recharged it is easier to explore the “colors and layers of the world of extroverts.” Sometimes it’s hard for the extroverts in our lives to understand this need for space.
      I love the Susan Cain website! I especially appreciate her “16 things I Believe” sidebar. I also plan to look into the concept of orchid individuals/children. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. You always have good meaningful comments.:)

  31. I read a quote, and it goes like this….”When the voice and vision on the inside, becomes more profound and clearer than the opinions on the outside, then you’ve mastered your life.” How does this apply to you? Your voice and vision of you, is having the personality of knowing you’re an introvert, and your finding this to become more profound or clearer inside of you (that’s why your writting about it), therefore you are starting to not care or mind the opinions of the outside. How great is that!! :) Continue to be you, because the opinions on the outside truly doesn’t matter. I embrace you as you are, not what your not.

    • I love that quote Connie. I do feel like I have been going through a process of peeling off my outside layers and honing in on the inner voice. My ideas and self are becoming more crystallized.:) Not fearing so much what others think is freeing. I still feel raw and exposed sometimes, but I also feel like my inner core is more steely. Thank you so much for your kind and insightful words. And by the way, I GAIN energy in your class every week even though it is a large group and there is lots of music and stimulation. I think the music (love), few people I connect with (meaningful), dancing (beauty)and the endorphin rush make it therapeutic. Thank you, thank you.

  32. I tell you, Brenda, this hit home, how refreshing. Your mother and I both enjoyed your communicative insight. I’m proud of your art of teaching, you’re fabulous. Your writing is successful, you stay in the mind long after reading you. You are dearly loved. Bill and mom.

  33. hi
    Very interesting! I think it’s great how you researched this topic to help your psyche. I’m not sure if I’m introvert or extrovert, or part of both. Our last book club leader would always take a week vacation by herself and go to a beach somewhere to be alone. I could never understand it, but now I see it must have helped her cope with her life. Could you see yourself doing an alone trip?
    love aunt viv

    • I could definitely do an alone trip. I’ve daydreamed about going to a cabin in the woods, a retreat in Santa Fe or even just an apartment downtown that I could go to and write, read and catch up with myself. I have only seen you in extroverted settings – large family gatherings. Do you collapse after everyone leaves or are you ready to move on to the next social engagement? “Innies and Outies” both have amazing strengths. I so appreciate your comments Aunt Viv.:)

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