I'm an introvert, and I'm okay

I read an article that really resonated with me a while back, that was written a few years ago. It was entitled "Caring for Your Introvert", written by Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic.

In the article, he clearly defines what an introvert is, and how we are perceived by extroverts. Yes, I am most definitely an introvert. But that doesn't mean I'm antisocial or unpleasant. It just means that I and other introverts are energized by being alone, instead of by interacting with other people.

Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge.

So very true. I enjoy spending time with friends and attending conferences and such, but tend to hang back and observe rather than directly interact, and even so I feel drained afterwards, exhausted by the social interactions.

People who don't know me or other introverts well might be concerned that I'm suffering in some way, perhaps feeling left out... but it's really the way I prefer things.

We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours.

Amusing, but not much of an exaggeration. Which is one reason why I prefer to communicate with clients and others via email, rather than phone conversations. I want to think through my response in peace and quiet, without meaningless niceties filling in the dead air.

So if you're an extrovert and you see a quiet person, don't be concerned. We're just fine, thanks.

RE: Introvert symptoms

David,

I hate to mention this, but the description of an introvert needing time to “turn off and recharge” is exactly the way I feel as an ADD sufferer.

NO ONE would even consider calling me an introvert(I’m a retired social action organizer and PR consultant) -- but at a certain point in intense interactions (professional or social), I feel totally brain-dead and need to find a quiet place to recharge.

This seems to replicate an experience I had when living in Kenya. I was effectively fluent in conversational Swahili, but I had only learned it a few months previously. One day (around 5pm) after speaking Swahili all day, I found I couldn’t understand ANYTHING. It was as if my brain had turned off.

I discussed this with a neurologist later and she suggested that the limited area of my brain that held my Swahili knowledge had been overwhelmed by fatigue poisons and (her words) needed to recharge. She said that this often happens when we intensively use areas of the brain that are limited in size because the information they contain is relatively new.

As an aside: There’s a Far Side cartoon that shows a student asking a professor in class: “May I leave the room? My brain is full.” This is very funny -- except to those of us who experience it...

David Sinclair's picture

RE: Introvert symptoms

I'm no expert, but I don't think being an introvert is related to ADD. There may be some similarities, though.

To my mind, introversion is the logical way to be; centered and focused. Extroversion involves too much dependence on others for ones moods and self-worth. But I'm sure extroverts have a different perspective. And like pretty much everything, things are shades of gray — most people would have some introverted and some extraverted tendencies, so even extroverts would enjoy quiet time occasionally.

I can certainly undertand about ones brain getting full when focused on one area. I've never been diagnosed with ADD, but I wouldn't be surprised if I have some symptoms of that. But while I concentrate for hours on programming work, I have a lot of disruptions and variety in my work, handling support, marketing, accounting, and all other aspects of an indie software business. So that gives helpful variety.