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…