Introverts have a bad reputation. They're the ones you find brooding in the corners, contemplating over the injustices of the world while writing sad poetry.

Perhaps that's an extreme caricature of an introvert, but the reality is that many people just don't understand introverts.

I know-- I'm an introvert. Most people who've met me aren't always aware of this. I'm outgoing and I take leadership roles. I like public speaking and never shy away from a stage. But I have an innate need to be alone. I'm energized by solitude. And too much socializing exhausts me.

Introversion isn't about shyness. It's about where one gets their energy from.

Over the years, myself and my fellow introverts have been grossly misunderstood. We're judged against the measure of extroversion. Our desire to ruminate in our thoughts is often perceived as anti-social behavior.

That's because not everyone understands introversion. And not everyone understands introverts.

Most people think that an introvert is someone who stays quiet, whereas an extrovert is someone who likes to talk. That definition might not be wholly accurate.

What is an introvert?

An introvert isn't someone who's shy. Rather, it's the type of person who gains his or her energy from solitude.

Introverts also find themselves drained from being around too many people.

They are people who enjoy thinking-- and solitude gives them this time alone with their thoughts.

An introvert can be incredibly social. But just not for long periods of time.

What is an extrovert?

Extroverts are generally people who are highly sociable, talkative, assertive and excitable.

These are people who thrive in the company of others. Their energy comes from being around other people. Many extroverts often enjoy being the center of attention and want to be on the go constantly.

Most people have elements of both

Introversion and extraversion fit along a spectrum. A person might not necessarily have only the traits of an introvert. But where you fit along the extraversion spectrum gives you an insight into just how introverted or extroverted you are.

These ideas came about back in the 1920s from Carl Jung and his theory on temperaments. Interestingly, Jung noted that there was a tendency for either type (introvert or extrovert) to marry the opposite type.

Famous introverts

You might find more extroverts in leadership roles, but its the introverts who are generally more gifted. Introverts make up 60% of the gifted population, writes

Many introverts are great writers, poets, actors and even inventors. In fact, some of my fellow introvert have told me that they get their best ideas when they're enjoying their solitude.

Some of the world's best geniuses are introverts. Take author J.K. Rowling, for example. She's a self-proclaimed introvert. So is Angelina Jolie.

Albert Einstein was another reported introvert, too, as was Rosa Parks.

And Audrey Hepburn has been quoted as saying “I'm an introvert...I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.”

So, the next time you come across a quiet, brooding, and seemingly aloof person at a party, don't judge them! Just give them some space and some time to open up. After all, that person could very well be a budding genius who could prove to be a very interesting friend one day-- an introspective introvert, full of ideas.

Further Reading:

How an Introvert Can Be Happier: Act Like an Extrovert (Wall Street Journal)

Caring for Your Introvert (The Atlantic)


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