How to Thrive As an Introvert

Cartoon via Out Came the Sun; originally by Eat Up Whats Good for You

Being an introvert or an extrovert is by necessity a self diagnosed thing, and in the “know thyself” category, I think it’s a fairly important one. Since we live in a world that idealizes and promotes the extroverted, most people appear on the outside to be extroverts (which is why you are sometimes the only one who really knows what is true for you). Many of us aren’t extroverts though, and it’s important while you are rushing around trying to fit in, that you also have an awareness of your own needs and how your own well is refilled. The typical definition of an introvert vs. extrovert is one who gets more energy by being around people (extrovert) vs. one who shies away from, or feels depleted or tired after, social exposure (introvert). I’ve written about this a little before here.

Science tells us time and again that healthy relationships are a key element of happy and healthy living and I believe that, but for introverts I think the relationship with the Self may be the most important relationship of all in maintaining health and happiness. While introverts (and there is a wide fluctuation obviously) enjoy being part of a group of friends, going to the occasional party, and chatting with colleagues in the break room, we also need time alone to absorb it all, to find that still place inside, and to refuel before venturing out again – more so than extroverts do.

 The cartoon above cracked me up because it sums it up so well. No matter how odd or awkward we may feel at times about this need for time alone, the important thing is to know that it’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t like talking on the phone, it’s okay if you never aspired to be popular and in fact the thought makes your skin itch, or if you don’t really feel comfortable hanging out in big aimless group gatherings, or if one on one time with a close friend has always suited you better than an evening with the gang.

 It’s not an all or nothing game and knowing and accepting what works for you without being hard on yourself because it doesn’t match up with the extroverted ideal of what every cool, with-it person should want, is the key to self love and respect. And it all starts there doesn’t it? In fact it kind of begs the question … How much healthier might we be on the whole if we knew this and accepted embraced it from the beginning? Would as many people have addictions? Self medicate? Get divorced? Need anti-depressants? I wonder…

“At a certain part in your life. Probably when too much of it has gone by. You will open your eyes and see yourself for who you are. Especially for everything that made you so different from all the awful normals. And you will say to yourself, “But I am this person.” And in that statement, that correction, there will be a kind of love.” 
~ Phoebe In Wonderland

*Check out this insightful post over at A Design So Vast where she talks about the meaning and effect of being an introvert too.
This entry was posted in Courage, Evaluation, Happiness, Relationships, Self Esteem and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How to Thrive As an Introvert

  1. I completely agree with your point about this being at the root of our self-understanding, or at least critical to it. As you know it’s something I wrestle with and your words are very reassuring and comforting to me. Thank you!

  2. Is it possible to be both? I can be fed by some social situations, depleted by others. And I need some serious introvert time after to regroup. Cocktail parties wear me to the bone. I avoid at all costs because it’s just not worth it. And though I can have some social anxiety, being a part of the world is good for me. I could so easily be that cartoon! I guess to know thyself and be choosy about which social situations are draining and which are feeding.

    • Kathryn says:

      Oh absolutely Erin! I think that’s true for most people that some social situations are more draining than others. And while even if we fall more heavily into the introverted camp, getting out and being with people from time to time is healthy and balancing for us. I know if I spend too much time alone I get rusty on my social skills and then feel even more depleted when I get back out in the mix. I know exactly what you mean with cocktail parties too! Although, for good or bad, the cocktail is the way I learned to cope with those because too much small talk and aimlessness in a social setting used to make my skin crawl. And still does sometimes. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here! Hope to socialize with you again soon 😉

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