Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation. While introverts and extroverts are often viewed in terms of two extreme opposites, the truth is that most people lie somewhere in the middle of the extroversion-introversion continuum.
Do you assume that you know who is an introvert and who isn't? While you might think of an introvert as a shy wallflower who prefers to stay home alone instead of socialize, introverts can actually come in many types with a wide variety characteristics. There are certainly plenty of introverts who are socially reserved and who would prefer to stay home and read a book rather than go to a big party, but there are also plenty of introverts who enjoy socializing. You might even be surprised to learn that many people who you think of as "social butterflies" might actually be quite introverted.
The following are just a few of the signs that you (or someone you know) might be an introvert.
Being Around Lots of People Drains Your Energy
Do you ever feel exhausted after spending time with a lot of people? After a day interacting with others, do you often need to retreat to a quiet place and have an extended amount of time all to yourself? One of the major characteristics of this personality type is that introverts have to expend energy in social situations, unlike extroverts who gain energy from such interactions.
That doesn't meant that all introverts avoid social events altogether. Many introverts actually enjoy spending time around others, with one key caveat – introverts tend to prefer the company of close friends. While an extrovert might go to a party with the goal to meet new people, an introvert goes with the intent of spending quality time talking to good friends.
You Enjoy Solitude
As an introvert, your idea of a good time is a quiet afternoon to yourself to enjoy your hobbies and interests. A few hours alone with a good book, a peaceful nature walk, or your favorite television program are great ways to help you feel recharged and energized.
This does not mean that the average introvert wants to be alone all the time. Many introverts love spending time with friends and interacting with familiar people in social situations. They key thing to remember is that after a long day of social activity, an introvert will probably want to retreat to a quiet place to think, reflect, and recharge.
If having a few hours to be along sounds like your idea of a good time, you just might be an introvert.
You Have a Small Group of Close Friends
One common misconception about introverts is that they don't like people. While introverts typically do not enjoy a great deal of socializing, they do enjoy having a small group of friends to whom they are particularly close. Instead of having a large social circle of people they know only on a superficial level, introverts prefer to stick to deep, long-lasting relationships marked by a great deal of closeness and intimacy.
If your social circle tends to be small, but very close, there's a pretty good chance you are an introvert.
People Often Describe You as Quiet and May Find It Difficult to Get to Know You
Introverts are often described as quiet, reserved, mellow, and are sometimes mistaken for being shy. While some introverts certainly are shy, people certainly should not mistake an introvert's reserve for timidity. In many cases, people with this personality type simply prefer to choose their words carefully and not waste time or energy on needless chit-chat.
If you are the quiet type and a little bit reserved, you probably are an introvert.
Too Much Stimulation Leaves You Feeling Distracted and Unfocused
When introverts have to spend time in activities or environments that are very hectic, they can end up feeling unfocused and overwhelmed. Extroverts, on the other hand, tend to thrive in situations where there is a lot of activity and few chances of becoming bored. According to at least one study, researchers have found that introverts tend to be more easily distracted than extroverts, which is part of the reason why introverts tend to prefer quieter, less harried settings.
If you tend to feel overwhelmed in busy social situations, you probably tend to be an introvert.
Remember, introversion is not an all-or-nothing characteristic. People can be what you might call introverts with a capital I (aka "very introverted") or they might be outgoing in some situations with some introverted tendencies. Introversion exists on a continuum with extroversion, and most people tend to lie somewhere between the two.
One type isn't "better" than the other. Each tendency can have benefits and drawbacks depending upon the situation. By better understanding your personality, however, you can learn how to play to your strengths.
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Damrad-Frye, R. & Laird, J. D. (1989). The experience of boredom: The role of the self-perception of attention. <i>Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(2), 315-320.