I’ve heard a lot of interpretations about what introversion is. They’ve ranged from the more common misconceptions that introverted individuals are defined by their shyness or insularity, to less common beliefs that introversion reflects a character flaw in regards to a lack of sociability, onward still to dangerous territory- introversion as a malady, autism, or introversion as an environmental situation giving rise to degenerated behavior and function brought about by being crippled by a social gap.

Hardly surprising, given that most of these definitions tend to come from extroverts. Now I’m not one to criticize extroverts and their capacity for socializing, for their capacity to adapt, endure and become comfortable in many situations. That is an extrovert’s strength and a mighty strength it really is. There is no reason to suppose that introverts are more intelligent than extroverts (or vice versa), or that there is some ability that either group possesses that the other does not. After all, introversion/extroversion is a sliding scale (a very well defined one at that), and while some things may be easier to do than others, nothing is truly out of anyone’s reach.

Now with that out of the way, let’s discuss what introversion really means. Psychologically speaking, the difference between introversion and extroversion has to do with the way in which either brain gathers information and this in turn leads to a multitude of potential behavioural and attitudinal differences. Extroverts are said to not absorb sufficient information to keep them happy, as a result they tend to explore, embrace, make friends and so on. Introverts, conversely, absorb information too fast and at an uncomfortable rate with many observances simply undesired. Opposed to extroverts, introverts might summarily attempt to collate, group, define. Friends are of course important, but fewer friends are required- the information gleaned from individuals can be overwhelming to a strong introvert be it from chatting, body language, facial expressions, even the legacy of the friendship becomes a carefully assessed, technical balancing act in order to settle the seemingly manic amounts of knowledge being poured in.

For this underlying reason, introverts may adopt certain behaviors such as shyness or insularity but this by no means is a restriction or requirement. A great many things may occur due to this bombardment of data that will affect different introverts in different ways. For instance, one may over-analyze social situations, constantly re-thinking and doubting which manifests as awkwardness (anxiety is an often experienced trait). Comparatively, the wealth of data for others may be overwhelming as for them to miss the important parts of the conversation- subtle facial signals that the topic of discussion is uncomfortable for instance, and this manifests as different but also undesired behavior. Others still simply don’t enjoy it, and subsequently need a good deal of time in comfortable exposure to familiar surroundings.

These sort of results happen in more than just social situations. Introversion can cause people to become spotlessly clean through the desire for law and peace; others (such as myself, sadly), become intensely focused on  particular points so that other aspects tend to fall by the wayside, with the laborious task of cleanliness being a common fall guy.

There are a few traits that I think most introverts possess, and these are important in determining whether you consider yourself one or not. I’ve had occasionally extroverts believe they are introverts because they like alone time- but this simply is not the same. All introverts need organized, perpetual bouts of quiet time, preferably alone or with very close friends (or spouses). This allows introverts to calmly absorb as much information as they like within a controlled environment. The person that re-reads a favorite book several times because it is comforting might be called an introvert, the person that enjoys wandering off by themselves into a city might not be.

Of course I’m making it sound a bit gloomy but there is no reason for it to be. Introverts, like anyone else, can mold themselves into happy, healthy individuals. Career paths requiring scrutiny (such as science or business) are things introverts can pick up and be great at. Presentations can be made well, observations can be powerful and thoughtful. New experiences can definitely be enjoyable- these experiences can immersify or be middling. Introverts can and do take recreational drugs; sadly sometimes for socializing, but just as likely for experience and enjoyment. Affability might not be natural, and a bit of quiet sometimes may be required, but introverts have in their ranks those who are caring, adrenaline junkies, lovers, passionate artists, expressive lovers and so on.


~ by freeze43 on January 23, 2012.

2 Responses to “Introversion”

  1. Well this may come as a shock to most extroverts, but we introverts are just not that impressed with you. We also carry our own stereotypes. Your constant need for interaction and social validation comes across as shallow, desperate and needy. Your preference for small talk and your impatience with complex thoughts and feelings makes you look a bit dumb. Don’t you have any in depth opinions about anything? Do you ever reflect? Can’t you focus for two seconds and take a subject to its logical conclusion rather than just bailing as soon as it gets hard? Do actually have any close friends that you share a deep bond with or is everyone just interchangeable. Do you even care who you hang out with or will any warm body do? Do you have any standards at all?

  2. …erm. Nice bridging the gap.

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