When I started dating my introverted husband, I quickly learned that being an introvert was a whole thing I had never considered. As our relationship blossomed, I discovered so many things about him that I could not relate to AT ALL.
At first I thought these things were simply preferences, but when my son was born, he exhibited these same tendencies. Once at a birthday party, I found my 4 year old son sitting quietly in his cousins room, looking at books, while the rest of the crew were running around having fun. That’s when it really hit me; this chaos is tiring for him.
I started to notice the following trends in my husband and son;
- needing a day of recovery after a busy event
- needing a lot of time to think about something before giving an answer
- not wanting to do 2 events back to back
- needing to know all of the details about something before it happens
- needing to learn new things privately (as in, no one watching)
I knew I had to do something to connect to these people who I loved beyond words, so I found some excellent resources to guide my extroverted mind:
- Quiet (Also available as a TED Talk)
- The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child
- The Introvert Advantage
If you have any introverts in your life, I strongly recommend you read one of these books! Until then, here are the most important, clinically proven findings about introverts, that will help you navigate the introverted waters in your own life.
1. Introverts aren’t shy: Being shy is typically an anticipatory anxiety of socializing. Being an introvert is a fixed temperament or personality type that we can’t change. Shyness is experienced by both introverts and extroverts.
2. Introverts expend energy in social situations, whereas extroverts gain energy. This means that long periods of socializing depletes the energy of an introvert, which is why they are often exhausted after a big get-together or event.
3. Solitude restores their energy. They need downtime after being busy to restore, and especially, to reflect.
4. They have small, but mighty friendships: Introverts are all about quality over quantity, and will have a small, close group of friends. They are known to have deep, significant relationships, where intimacy and authenticity are highly valued.
5. They know who they are: Introverts have a rich inner world, and they spend a lot of time reflecting and examining their experiences, motivations, and relationships.
6. Their brains are actually different: Introverts use a longer pathway in their brain to process complex information, however, they can integrate more emotional and intellectual data than an extrovert.
7. They do deep dives: When an introvert has an interest, they will delve very deep into that subject with intense focus.
8. It’s harder for them to move their bodies: Introverts have to work a little harder at movement because it requires them to use conscious thought to do so.
9. They have incredible long-term memory: Introverts use their long-term memory more than short-term, giving them a wealth of data to draw from (but it can take them a little while to retrieve the information in their brain).
10. They are great listeners: They have genuine interest in getting to know people, and particularly love to be around people who they can learn something from one-on-one.
Today, most people wouldn’t even guess that my son is an introvert, and I think that’s because he’s been well supported and understood in his early years. He totally enjoys parties and chaos now, but he has a definite limit, and he can identify when he’s reached that limit. That’s when I hear the question, “Can we go home now?”
And now, I get why. Introverts are kind of like electric cars, they can perform just as well as their gas powered counterparts, but at the end of the day, they need to recharge.