At an event where my friend was speaking the host introduced her with the words, “she’s definitely not an introvert, and if she is then I’ve got the definition of an introvert wrong!”
He got his definition wrong.
She is probably one of the most introverted people I know. And she is a fantastically charismatic and expressive speaker and people make an assumption that those characteristics mean extrovert. The problem is a quick Google for ‘introvert definition’ brings up ones such as, ‘shy, reticent person’. Not helpful. Often we think of introverts as shy, quiet or reserved. Yes, they could be. But they might also not be! Or you might see them speak publicly and actually you haven’t seen the whole of them.
Introverts feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, they recharge by being on their own, in their own thoughts. This doesn’t mean they are shy around people, it just means they need to recharge after spending a lot of time with people whereas extroverts find that an energising experience. I may well be speaking to the converted in terms of knowing the definition of introverts here but I find it fascinating that it’s still such a mis-understood area. I wouldn’t know but I’m sure there are also extroverts wishing people didn’t just assume they were super confident and keen to be around people all the time… extroverts, correct me if I’m wrong?
Really I’d love no one to make any assumptions about my intra/extroversion but what I do know is that I’ve found it really helpful to understand myself more and be really intentional about how I use my energy. I always thought being an introvert was boring. In fact I spent much of my childhood feeling like much of what made me me was boring. But the more I’ve trained in coaching, reflected and learned I’ve realised what an incredible quality my introversion is.
It is my superpower.
The last year has been an interesting one when it comes to this discussion. There’s been lots of chat about how lockdown has been better for introverts and probably yes on some level it has been easier but it’s not as simple as that. I have been asked many times how I coped with taking so many funerals and in part I am sure that it was easier because the rest of the time I was spending time on my own recharging when normally life would be easier. But for me the one-to-one connections and small conversations are super important and face masks and distancing have made those difficult. Zoom calls have been exhausting because actually I’d much rather be with the whole group and get all those little conversations whilst you’re waiting to start or queuing for coffee.
Yesterday we ran our first in-person networking event for work and it was brilliant. I love networking and I love meeting people. I can do it energetically but afterwards I am knackered. In fact, yesterday I fell asleep when I got home for an hour and a half! But it didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it, it just meant I needed to recharge. The more I’ve become aware of how my energy is impacted like this, the more I can plan for it. Making sure an evening has less plans, planning something one-on-one as my next social thing rather than a big group, planning for joy and energy.
So, whilst I’m reflecting on it, here are some things I love about understanding myself better as an introvert.
Why I love being an introvert:
- I can thoughtfully prepare and feel confident in the words I present or share.
- Learning brings me so much joy, I love finding a quote to ponder or a new subject to listen to a podcast on.
- I am really good at listening and reflecting back in a conversation.
- My skills of observation are pretty darn good, I am always taking stuff in even if I’m sat quietly.
- I am no less valuable than an extrovert.
- Being able to recharge on my own is like a super power. I don’t need other people for that.
- Simple evenings in on my own are the best!
- I am not shy, sometimes I might just not want to talk to someone!
- Making choices about how to spend my time and energy is super wise and even if people don’t get it I’m going to do it.