Library or noisy shopping mall? An evening at home or a party with 200 people that lasts half the night? Although all of us are unique, half of us are introverted, in the true definition of the term. Because society tends to frown on introversion and reward extraversion (puzzling, since all of us need to be one or the other at given times), many intoverts feel that they already have “one strike against them” in the workplace, social situations, and other public venues.
Extraverts are energized by outside sources, and introverts recharge by spending time inside of their minds. Neither way is wrong or bad and is determined by genetics. Whether a person is introverted or extraverted is not always easy to spot – Einstein was extraverted, and Hillary Clinton is introverted. All people can be successful on their own terms with a bit of knowledge and the right attitude, so introverts should not feel left alone or in the dark about their lives!
Introverts may be thrown off when someone says, “Hi, how are you?” and then ramble on without taking in an answer. Or when an extraverted supervisor orders them to do something wrong because (in the supervisor’s mind) at least some action is being taken. Introverts like to reflect and pause before taking action, so interacting with the other half of the population (extraverts) definitely is challenging.
However, since to some extent each introvert marches to his or her own tune, working or interacting with another introvert also has its challenges. So many situations can end up with someone frustrated that the introvert is not sharing what is on his or her mind, and when two introverts work together things may go unsaid that can impede the project or relationship. The antidote? Communication! Especially on the introvert’s part. Instead of bottling everything up, flex a bit and let the other person know what you’re thinking or feeling. If they reject that, so be it.
A challenge that one may not suspect is a certain lingering dissatisfaction with life for the introvert. This, at face value, seems a bit bizarre – after all, didn’t the introvert choose their isolation? A good compromise for the introvert may be staying connected (via the internet, for example, but still going out into the world and interacting with people). Many successful people are introverts, who work in occupations one may not expect (public speakers, politics, sales) and may have large families and be happy with having many people around. Introverts can be very good hosts or hostesses, leaders, mediators, persuaders, and act ‘extraverted’ when necessary in various other capacities. Introverts just have to figure out how! Which is quite a challenge in itself, with society generally suggesting and sometimes demanding tasks done in an extraverted way.
Self-acceptance is a good start for introverts. Since you are wired to be introverted, it’s nothing you can change, but also something quite natural and even a strength in many situations. We need you!