I’m getting the impression that there’s a lot of misinformation floating around about what introversion is, so I’m going to straighten the record here:
Introversion is NOT a mental illness, social anxiety, or social awkwardness.
In broad strokes, introversion and extroversion are about your “mental locus” — are ideas processed inwardly or outwardly.
In application, this means:
Moving through transitions at a slower pace.
My extroverted husband wakes up and jumps right into the day without missing a beat. I prefer to lie in bed for awhile, then move to the couch with a cup of coffee. Once I have finished a satisfactory amount of thinking, then I get up and do stuff.
I also have to work myself up to going to the grocery store, the pool, neighborhood BBQs, returning home — anything that’s a transition from one thing to another. Even with places and activities that I adore.
Taking extra effort to mentally process everything thoroughly.
This is where being drained by social interactions comes into play.
When I talk to people, I listen to not only their words, but also their tone of voice. I pay extra attention to their body language and facial expressions as well, then carefully analyze everything to read into the person as much as possible. The result is that I tend to pick up on subtle clues much earlier than others, but it takes a lot of energy.
With groups, there’s an overwhelming number of things to analyze, so I prefer to check myself into the corner instead. I still talk to individuals who wander over, but I can’t handle THE GROUP as a whole.
New people present a variety of unknowns, so it takes additional energy to figure them out — there’s a definite “warm up” period.
Phone conversations rob me of all the visual cues I use to read people, and are consequently stressful.
Reading people lets me know what I can expect from them, so I’m not abruptly thrust into an unexpected situation without having enough time to process it.
Muted external expressions.
I’m frequently so caught up in my head that I forget to show anything on my face, so I tend to have a blank look most of the time.
I also prefer to simply state, “That makes me mad,” rather than scowling or punching, because I’m not outwardly focused enough to derive any sort of satisfaction from external expressions.
This tends to cause friction with people, because they assume that if something isn’t happening plainly out in the open, then it isn’t happening at all.
And they get weirded out by my glacial stare.
A rich internal world — which is used to forge deep connections with others.
I like my inner world — I like it so much, I write novels about it. For me, writing is far more expressive of my heart and soul than talking is, so it means more to me to have someone read my work than to have someone listen to me talk.
All of the ideas I come across are ultimately used to enrich my internal world, and I’m deeply attracted to people who can provide me with new ideas to work with. I love knowing what people actually think as individuals, and I want to know about their internal world.
And frankly, I’m snobbish enough to prefer my own thoughts over listening to someone recap the latest Disney movie. Uh huh. There’s a dragon. How nice. I could have just read the blurb on IMDB, without expending all of that energy on coming out here and talking to you.
I’d much rather listen to someone gripe about their personal problems, because at least it’s a subject that they’re emotionally attached to.
So, when someone describes themself as “introverted,” don’t assume that means they’re single, depressed, and socially awkward.
I’m actually quite gregarious with mah peeps — the people that I know well and feel comfortable around.
And no, I don’t need to break out of my shell or expand my comfort zone.
I’m fine the way I am.