I remember the day I discovered I was introverted. I was attending university, finishing off a few courses in my grad program. I had a break between classes so decided to browse the book store.
I love being in the quietness of bookstores.
I love the abundance of books.
I love the abundance of stories, facts, and interesting things I know nothing about.
And of course, I love the smell of books, who doesn’t??
On this particular day of browsing, I came across a book about quiet people.
I had never seen anything written about quiet people. This was back in 2012 when introversion was still not well known.
In fact, in hindsight, I actually thought there were not others like me.
I reached for the book, not really knowing what to expect but feeling hopeful that there might be some answers to the question that had plagued me for many years: “Why are you so quiet?”
As I scanned the table of contents, I knew I had come across something that was important. Very quickly I saw my experience of being a quiet person reflected in the author’s words. It was a relief to know that someone else could explain why I was so quiet.
And the answer: I’m an introvert.
So what exactly is an introvert?
Here are the basic facts about introversion:
- We need alone time
- We easily become drained by social interactions- the more people, the quicker this happens
- We tend to avoid conflict if at all possible
As I continue to support Introverted people with such things as anxiety, stress, relationship issues, and work, I have deepened my learning of introversion.
Here are a few other things that often come with introversion:
- You are more sensitive
- You are private
- You only open up to a few people in your life
- You are very good at what you do- work wise
- You are independent
The next thing I want you to notice is what’s missing from the above descriptions. In the past and to some extent now, introversion has been seen as a negative. Introversion was associated with words like stand-offish, cold, rude, anti-social. None of these words have anything to do with being an introvert. Anyone can behave in this manner.
But when some people discover they are introverted, they feel a sense of despair, failure. When introversion has been viewed as a negative, some people aren’t so keen about finding this out about themselves.
When I first discovered I was introverted, there was relief. I now had information that made sense of my behaviour.
And this was followed by feeling discouraged. I was told in many ways and many times being quiet was not okay. So I had to sit with this discomfort for awhile. Once I accepted that this was who I am, I was then able to see the positive things that go with being quiet.
My two most favorite things about being quiet is:
- I can enjoy my own company
- I can see complexity which helps me to appreciate the ways we can struggle
Tracy, a fellow introvert and therapist, helps introverted people manage anxiety, find success in the workplace, and build better relationships.