Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Introverted

I've known that I am an introvert for probably twenty years, having been interested in psychology as a teenager. I can sit by myself, nose in a good book, for hours and be perfectly happy.  I can go out for a solo run in the woods and feel completely at ease alone on the trails.  The world, however, is run by extroverts, who make up 75% of the population.  Indeed, being outgoing and gregarious is highly touted as a desirable characteristic, and may leave the other 25% of us feeling misunderstood.  Recently, when I was repeatedly called 'unfriendly' by someone, I started thinking about what it means to be an introvert. 

Introverts actually process information differently from extroverts.  With recent brain developments, we now know that the way information comes in and the way dopamine plays a role is very different.  Introverts tend to be highly sensitive to the neurotransmitter dopamine, and as a result can feel overstimulated in situations where we are surrounded by people.  I know that I can be very sensitive to not just people, but even the noise of people - I can't tolerate having multiple electronics on at once - say the radio plus the kids playing the Nintendo DS.  Multi-layers of noise leave me feeling unsettled and unable to focus. 

People sometimes think introverts are antisocial, but we're not.  We like being around people, in small and controlled doses.  But we find extended exposures draining, and need time to decompress.  I often have to bolster myself up to do something as simple as inviting another family over for dinner - it's very mentally draining.  It's not that I don't like other people or want to be around them - it's just that I find it exhausting on many different levels.  On the other side, extroverts are highly energized by other people and dislike being alone.  They can't understand why an introvert wouldn't want their company at all times, which they may assume is always desired. 

There are many misconceptions about introverts.  We may be considered shy, but in fact many of us are not afraid of people.  I'm certainly not.  Extroverts may mistake our lack of small talk for rudeness or snobbery.  For me, I just don't talk unless I have something to say.  It has nothing to do with what I think of you.  Extroverts may assume introverts don't like people.  That's also untrue.  In fact, we highly value the few friendships that we do have, often proving to be extremely loyal.  I've always thought of myself as having an inner circle, a la Meet the Parents.  It may take me a while to warm up to a person, but once someone reaches my inner circle, they are there for life, and can always know that I will be supportive and there for them.  Introverts do make most excellent listeners.

I suppose one of the most disturbing assumptions is that often extroverts think that introverts should just fix themselves and become "normal".  Ah yes, discrimination comes in many forms.  Introverts need to be appreciated for what is their natural personality type.  I could no more change myself to be extroverted than I could rob a bank - it's just not who I am.  I don't think it should be up to introverts to change.  It should be up to the extroverts to accept and respect us for who we are.

I suspect that there are many other happily blogging introverts out there.  It seems an easy way for us to connect with other people safely.  We can be social, but shut down whenever we feel like it to recharge.  If we don't feel like interacting at any given time, we don't have to.  Yet we can bond with others and have stimulating conversations and unite in friendship should we so choose.  And if we do meet face to face, it's a little easier, because we already know each other in some sense and have common ground.  Are we unfriendly?  Nope!  Just introverted. I'm so thankful for the friendships I have made with other bloggers who have not only been supportive, but also accept me - and my blog - as I am.  Thank you. 

I love the way this article sums up how to care for the introvert in your life.

I have a giveaway for 3 $10 Starbucks gift cards going on - you can enter here.  

This post will be linked to Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can't Say.

71 comments:

Jill said...

Introverted or not, Lisa you are a wonderful, special person! I could tell that the first time I came to your blog. Don't let anyone try to change you. You're perfect as you!

Sagittarian said...

I have real friend who is introvert, from the start I knew what she want and doesn't want. Our friendship last until now because we knew how to give and take. That's why, I understand how you feel about sharing this post:) Have a nice day Lisa! :)

Chris said...

I think you get to a point where it's just ok to not want to be in the spotlight at every opportunity and just watch the extroverts perform from the boundaries, and not feel like your missing out on anything.

The only thing with being more introverted, I find, is that I have a tendency to think too much.

You come across as wonderfully confident and interesting on your blog Lisa.

Kasey @ TFOMplus2 said...

So I have been mislabeled--by myself--as an extrovert. What I am learning, is that it has been a learned behavior. If let to my natural tendency, I would shrink into the corner and simply observe. I like people...I just get overwhelmed easily. This post summed me up almost exactly!!

Suz said...

Beautiful.

Regarding this though: "It should be up to the extroverts to accept and respect us for who we are."

I no longer care if they accept me or not. I tell them I like my "me time" and my solitude, and if they think there's something wrong with that I shrug and walk away.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I am married to an introvert. He needs a lot of down time to process things and just be.

My Journey With Candida said...

Oh My Gosh Lisa...... Holy Cow,
You have just posted about my life. I never knew I was an introvert though. I never put a name to it. I just considered myself a loner.

As I age, I am happy with myself and who I am. My neighbors probably think I am very unfriendly because I pretty much keep to myself.

Thanks for a GREAT post Lisa.

andy said...

Have a great weekend! !!!!

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I'm definitely an introvert, and my social time comes when I go to blog conferences or events. But by the time they end, I'm so over it. I need to just be by myself again. I actually prefer to have a hotel room to myself too, but usually share to save money.

Melodie said...

You may be talking about you but you described me to a tee! My son is the same way.

Slamdunk said...

Well said Lisa. I can relate because I am an introvert as well.

Fortunately, I live in the NE now where introverts blend it with the downright unfriendly folks here anyway.

Out on the prairie said...

I have to laugh at myself sometimes being shy, but mostly can't stop talking within the right crowd.

Michaele said...

From one introvert to another - it did me good to hear this. Have a great weekend Lisa.

TexWisGirl said...

i describe myself as an extroverted introvert. i prefer to be alone, but if i'm in a social setting, i'll work the room with the best of them.

blogging is a perfect environment for me these days, as you said. a way too remain in our quiet world, but connect and care for others too!

Sonya @ Under the Desert Sky said...

Sounds very familiar! I'm like that, myself. There were some days when I would enjoy nothing more than a solitary trail ride with Cotton (my Quarter Horse) after work.

That was a great explanation, by the way.

Helene said...

You know what's odd is that I used to be an extrovert but now, since becoming a parent, I'm more of an introvert. I definitely need time alone to just get my bearings straight and decompress. Even long play dates these days overwhelm me.

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Loved this post! I tend to waver between being an introvert and exovert

Jane said...

Thank you Lisa, for sharing this,I am also an introvert! I have simply learned to accept the fact that we are all different,and that is ok,even good! You described me pretty aptly. Just keep doing what you do,I enjoy reading about your adventures of every day living! Blessings Jane

Karen said...

Very well said, Lisa. I value my alone time also...and have never been one for a party atmosphere. It was something my husband and I had to sort out when we first got married... he felt as if he didn't have something to DO and places to GO on a Friday and Saturday night, it was a wasted weekend. I enjoy it occasionally, but not always. I am a homebody, doesn't mean I don't like people.

Valerie said...

Great post Lisa!! Signed, a fellow introvert:)

Not Just Another Jennifer said...

My husband and our 4 YO DD are both introverts. I find that I'm constantly defending them as not being unfriendly or shy. And actually, DH is quite gregarious once you get to know him. He just is an observer first.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

i like you as you really are...AWESOME!

happy weekend! x

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

very well said!

powerful post!

Mere said...

You just described my personality to a T. I have had a few close friends tell me they thought I was "unfriendly" when we first met. I hide in my house until my neighbors are no longer outside so I can avoid awkward small talk (which I'm terrible at).Taylor used to tell me I reminded him of you...this post explains why. :-) Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

kinfare said...

I totally resonate with this. Blogging is perfect for us, isn't it? Thanks for sharing! :)

Hayley said...

Yay for introverts! Growing up, I was an extrovert, but something changed when I had kids, and how you describe yourself also describes the current me. Maybe it's a chemical thing??

Angela said...

Is there a middle ground Lisa? I think I'm a little of both. I don't mind being alone at all. It doesn't bother me to be in crowds either. It is just easier to be a loner! I can do what I want when i want and don't have to take into account what someone else might want to do kind of deal.

A Quiet Corner said...

Baby Girl, all I kept thinking as I read your post was...how in the world did you deal with me????? Well, however/whatever...I miss you!...:)JP

Chatty Crone said...

Okay believe it or not - I am introverted too. Put me in a group and I become mute. Put me with a friend I chat. Totally understand. sandie

Tweedles -- that's me said...

I think I am just like you!
love
tweedles

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Angela - you are either one or the other. But you can be less extreme on the scale, so whereas I'm deeper on the introvert scale, you might be closer to the side where extroverts begin.

JP, you're the type of extrovert I find it fun to be around. You're friendly and nonjudgmental and you never expect anything different from me - you just talk and I get to listen :-)

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

I may be introverted but I talk a lot about nothing. I would guess many bloggers are a bit introverted.

Ginny said...

EXTREMELY interesting!!!! I was going to take the day off from computer, but I'm so glad I didn't, I would have missed this. I didn't know lots of this. And really there is no normal because God has made us each different. I have had my own problems with this in the past, but worse. I used to have Social Anxiety Disorder, and tried to hide it, till they started advertising meds for it on T.V. And I found out I was not the only one. I am almost the complete opposite now, with no drugs or anything. The only good thing about aging!!!

camp and cottage living said...

Lisa
I'm sure you'll get a lot of feed-back from this post!
I was often called 'stuck up' or 'shy' in school. I am not at all shy and do like people, but like you, prefer a cozy group of
friends or family. And I really hate people to talk about nothing but themselves. It seems almost epidemic thses days.

Carolyn said...

It's funny. People think I'm an extrovert, but I think I'm introverted. Funny how we see ourselves and how others do!

IanH said...

Lisa, you could have written that about me.

Sandra's Fiberworks said...

Love this. I cherish my alone time, which is when boys are in school. And yes, I sweat entertaining. A toast to introverts. Oh. And I too DO like people. New follower here; as a writer, I thought you said that very well.:))

Tortoise said...

Thank you SO much for this post. It made me realize how unsupportive I've been of my introverted husband. I plan to read the article you linked to as well. Maybe (after 17 years of marriage) I can learn to be a better wife! Thank you! Thank you!

Sally said...

First: Love your new header.

Second: Yep, it seems like you spoke to a lot of us in this post. I totally "get it". They didn't call me Grannie in high school for nothin. I'd listen to anyone, but don't ask me to "perform". :)

Debbie said...

still waters run deep!!

have a wonderful weekend!!

Loretta said...

You have me summed up quite well!

Kim said...

THis post made me really think Lisa. Although I know how to be very conversational and outgoing when it is required, I never crave to be out in social situations. When I was really young I was definitely more introverted than not. Through working in service industry and always with people I started thinking that maybe I was extroverted. But as I age, I realize that maybe I really am more introverted. I prefer to email over talk on the phone, I prefer to stay in most of the time rather than go out. I don't even miss going out with a bunch of girlfriends like so many women I know do. Great post and very thought-provoking.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Awesome post, Lisa... I too am an introvert --but most people don't know it or believe it. I had to work hard at being more extraverted (outgoing) when I worked for the church... BUT--that wasn't the 'real' me...

I hate big groups and parties and even sit-down dinners.. I'd much rather be with my hubby --or a friend --and have a meal or time together. OR--I'm happy being alone....

I think you hit the nail on the head about bloggers being more introverted.. I think that is correct... It will be interesting to read the other comments you get.
Hugs,
Betsy

Michelle a.k.a. Farmchick said...

I am quite the introvert and enjoy it! lol I like my nose in a book or in a computer learning things.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I've known about my being an introvert for a long time now -- it's not an easy thing to be, as your article states. It effects everything from family relationships to our careers.

I still have times where I deal with this -- and not very satisfactorily, even in my 50s. I just do the best I can.

Thanks for this insight, Lisa. :)

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Wow!! Great post!!

letmestartbysaying said...

I like this. I do.
It sounds like you're being unfairly judged. I have, too.
Because I'm both: I love being alone, reading, going to movies or lunch solo, shutting off all the electronics in the house. But I also love going dancing with friends, dinner with friends, socializing in a group.
I've had people seen the social side of me, then assume I'm "bitchy" when I'm quiet the next time they see me.
We can be more than one thing.
It would be nice if The Judgy Ones could just accept that fact.
Came from WOE linky.

Marcy said...

I am an introvert. I love social situations somewhere deep down, but they wear me out! I have had people over the years assume I am a snob because I don't launch into a big conversation with someone I've just met. Even if I want to, I will stand there unable to think of a single thing to say. Great points in your post.

Sarah (Nikki) said...

it's amazing how He made us all unique and special. Great post.

Tracy said...

Lisa,
I have seen your name on some blogs I follow; today it was Nancy's at a Rural Journal and always said I need to stop by but never have. Today and did and what a serendipitous stopover...I too am an introvert and it was so verifying and validating to read today's entry. I've been called quite a few names myself and I teach school and other teachers have just stopped attmepting to talk to me because of how I am. I don't mean to be nor do I plan on changing for anyone but I must admit at times, it hurts my feelings.
Thanks so much for your words today!

Diane Cayton-Hakey said...

Oh, Lisa... it's okay to be an introvert. I live with one and it took me years to understand that he just prefers quiet over noise, and he doesn't talk to me in the morning until he's ready to.... I totally 'get' you! :=)

Also, I don't live near a Starbucks, but I know a blogger who is not well off financially and is a Starbucks freakazoid who I would give this to. If I win, I am going to pay it forward and send to her.

Have a wonderful day!

louness03 said...

Thank you for this post! As I spent muc of yesterday with my nose in a book... lol. My favorite part of being an introvert is that we really ARE great listeners. And so the few people I chose to be close with really know I care about them- I listen! :) Although I do love connecting with new ppl on the internet...it puts the interaction at a slower pace and the awkwardness is erased from the situation...(no face to face).Oh and btw, thanks so much for stopping by!

La sonrisa de Hiperi├│n said...

Se nuevo por tu casa, echándole un vistazo a las cosas que nos dejas. Como siempre un placer.

Saludos y un abrazo.

the cuby poet said...

I do like what you sat and recognise so many of the introvert traits that you itemise. I too love my own
space to read, write,listen to music
in just time alone. Sometimes too much time alone can be overwhelming and then it is time for some air a walk or similar. :)

the cuby poet said...

Just signed up as a follower of you blog.:)

SAM said...

Hmmm. As outgoing as my husband seems to be, I wonder if he isnt really an introvert at heart. REally insightful post.

Weekend Cowgirl said...

I think I am both an introvert and extrovert. Wonder if that is possible??
Just be happy and be yourself. That is all that matters.

Sandy said...

Seems as though this post hit a cord with lots of people and not just me. I have never thought of myself as an introvert but when I read this I realize I really am. I also read the article you linked to. Thanks for posting this Lisa, it clears some things up for me. Like why I hate idle chit chat and often refuse to answer my phone.

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

Such an interesting post to read! I'm quite fond of your introverted self. :) Hmmm...I'm still not sure which one I am though. Sometimes I thrive on being in social settings and other times the thought of it even seems too much.

Grumpy Grateful Mom said...

And your site is looking great by the way. Maybe they've been up for a while, but I love the photos at the top!

FireSidePoet said...

First time reader. Not really sure how I ended up here.
I'm an "Extrovert." I feel you have helped me to see a very large flaw in the way I act toward some people. Thank you. Know that you have helped to guide a lost youth through tough times.

warren said...

"For me, I just don't talk unless I have something to say. "

I am somewhere in between introvert and extrovert I guess but on your statement I am a full introvert. So many people prattle on needlessly...oh well, not me

AudreyO said...

What an informative post. Lots of wonderful information.

Shell said...

I understand. I'm very much an introvert. Blogging is a very easy way to make it seem like I'm not.

I don't know how many times I've been told by people that they thought I was a snob or a (w)itch when they first met me b/c I seemed so standoffish. But, really, it's just that I'm an introvert.

Sometimes, I force myself out of it for short periods of time(like blog conferences) but it's uncomfortable for me and then I like to retreat back to my normal self.

Maureen | Tatter Scoops said...

This is such an insightful post. Maybe I'm weird. I love being with other people and loves good company but I still need my alone times too or maybe that's just the Pisces in me lol :)

Kathy Kramer said...

I'm an introvert, so I can relate. I'm actually less introverted than I used to be, because anxiety also played into my introverted nature. Once I started dealing with my anxiety disorder, it's become easier to talk to people. I still think like an introvert and I can totally relate to the over stimulation in crowds (I still don't like large crowds and anti-anxiety meds won't change that.)

Adrienne said...

I feel like I'm becoming an introvert. And I like it. People are annoying. (Did I just say that?) Really, though. Most days, I'd much rather get o here and blog and talk you all than get on the phone and talk to many of the people I know IRL. Today of all days. I so get being "to myself". I don't hate you! <3

The Other Redhead said...

Wow well written. I am also an introvert. I have maybe 2 close friends, my finacee, my twins, and my cat. I am perfectly happy with that. I am so glad that someone put this out there. I am not "rude" or "think I am better than everyone else" I just like my people in small doses!

Sara S said...

Great post! Can definitely relate!

laughwithusblog said...

Heeey! I resemble this post! :)

Having Fun said...

I don't think there is anything wrong with it. I am one too.