By Gigi Hume
My whole life I have considered myself to be an introvert, always taking comfort and regeneration in being alone with myself and my thoughts. And for a long time I was content with that fact until the movies like She’s All That and with the introverted girl taking off her glasses to reveal this never-before-seen gregarious persona were thrown in my face. Accompanied by the constant pressure from those around me to partake in social situations 24/7 usually in the form of aggressive commentary like, “Why don’t you hang out with anyone on the weekend? Don’t you have friends!” and “God! Why are you so tired? You didn’t even do anything,” I began to wonder to myself: “Just how many people are introverts? Do they experience this too?”
I’m constantly surrounded by extroverts, people that were fueled by these social situations, who made it seem like this thing I was so drained by was so easy. Whether it was in my family of “people-people,” always discussing all the parties they stay at until 2 a.m., or my friends who when around people for long periods of time didn’t get exhausted, but rather invigorated. I continually felt like the odd one out when I was around these people and couldn’t quite understand why. Intrigued by this, I did some research.
In doing so, I found nearly 50% of the US population alone is introverted, each separated into one of the four main types: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained.
Social introverts find people both intriguing and exhausting. They tend to seek out social situation, enjoy it in the moment, but feel the strong need to recover afterwards. Sometimes in these social situations instead of actively participating at every moment, they sit back and observe. Preferably, these gatherings are smaller, with people they are comfortable with and know well.
Thinking introverts are the ones to dream their days away. They often get lost in themselves, paying special attention to all the ideas, possibilities, and thoughts running through their heads’. Because of this, they tend to be the most creative type of introvert as they are constantly developing new plans and designs in their heads. This type isn’t particularly driven by the social aspect accompanied with introversion, but more of developing these ideas, which at times can cause them to be on the more reserved side of the social spectrum.
Anxious introverts often get very nervous and uncomfortable in social situations. As a result, they tend to be insecure and self-conscious about themselves and their outward appearances. They are like this to such an extent that after social situations they usually dwell on all their perceived “mistakes” they made during the engagement. To avoid this embarrassment, they opt for solitude and alone time as a means of protection and comfort from the nerve-wracking feeling associated with socializing.
Restrained introverts tend to refrain from speaking or acting until after they give careful thought and consideration towards said act. Subsequently, they function at a slower pace as they are spending their time considering the outcomes and effects of their actions in the future.
In light of this research, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert–far from it. Their natural ability to think before they act, to create new and innovative ideas, and independence from social situations are all qualities that make introverts so great and unique. It’s just a matter of acceptance and learning how to manage thoughts and energy to avoid being burned out in our extrovert-centric world. But all things considered, introversion affects many people all around the country, even the world, and collectively we need to start valuing and utilizing all of the traits introverts bring to the table instead of brushing them under the rug.
If you think you’re an introvert–or know one–you can take this quiz to find out which type of introvert you are.