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Last week, I googled places to take the Myers Briggs Personality Test online, and found some tests that yield similar results.
I am an ISFJ.
I’m actually a borderline INFJ – the S/N part is almost equally split for me. I used to be a solid S, but the more I’m involved in business and dreaming big, the more I move toward the N side.
But I am 90% an I.
I am almost 100% Introverted.
The topic of being an introvert has been on my mind and heart a lot lately, coming up in my conversations frequently and I’ve been making some observations about introversion and daily life.
As I type this, my mind is scattering in a hundred directions and I want to write ALL THE THINGS at once, but I think this vast topic is going to end up being more of a series of Introvert-related posts here on the blog.
Today, I want to talk about the definition of an introvert. These can help you answer the question: How do you know if you’re an introvert?
What is an Introvert?
There are so many misconceptions about what an introvert is. In fact, Susan Cain wrote a book called Quiet which is all about how Introverts are misunderstood in our society which traditionally values Extroverts.
I did a quick Google search to see what definitions I’d find for Introverts and this is what came up:
No wonder us introverts often feel inferior to our extroverted counterparts!
This definition right here basically says: “Shame on you for being an introvert. You are shy and self-absorbed. You should be an extrovert.”
Here is the Urban Dictionary definition of an introvert. While not exactly a scientific source, it’s a much more accurate and compassionate definition of what it means to be an introvert.
1. Introverts Draw Energy from Being Alone
Everyone has an “Energy Bucket” they use every day as they go through the activities of daily life.
For an Extrovert, the more time they are alone, the more energy is taken from their bucket. When they are around other people, they are energized and they can refill their Energy Bucket.
The opposite is true for an Introvert.
For an Introvert, being around people requires giving energy from our buckets.
When our buckets are empty, we need to spend time alone to recharge and refill them.
– – –
This is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek graphic that exaggeratedly explains this:
[I couldn’t find the original source where this came from. It’s all over Facebook and Pinterest, and I found it via Google images.]
So, the biggest trait of an Introvert is that they recharge by being alone.
I’m an introvert through and through, and this explains why I love to read so much. I also like taking walks by myself, and working on craft projects solo, where I don’t have to talk to anyone. This is me, filling my Energy Bucket.
2. Introverts Are Not Always Shy
This is a common misconception, as shown in the definition above.
But it’s not always true. Being introverted is not the same thing as being shy.
The definition of Shy is: being reserved and showing nervousness or timidity around other people.
Some introverts are indeed shy. But the reason for the overall confusion is that introverts are guarding their Energy Buckets.
They aren’t likely to strike up a random conversation with a stranger, or seek out new people to interact with in a group setting, because that’s exhausting to them. This quietness is often perceived as nervousness/timidity when it’s really just being quiet.
3. Introverts Can Often Be Very Outgoing People
There are many introverts who are shy, reserved people. That is true.
But there are just as many true Introverts that are actually very outgoing. They’re often mistaken as extroverts because of this outgoing characteristic.
I am often one of these people.
I am a wedding photographer.
When I am shooting a wedding, directing and posing portraits, interacting with the bride and groom, and celebrating their wedding day with them, I am loud and silly, I laugh non-stop, and I am sure I appear to be very extroverted.
The difference though is that by the end of the night, my Energy Bucket is empty. I spend the next few days refilling my bucket, recharging my batteries, and resting my soul and my voice.
There are many celebrity actors and actresses, as well as motivational speakers and other high profile people that you would be shocked to learn are Introverts.
That’s because the misconception of what being an Introvert means is so widespread.
Introverts in the Business World
Today’s world, especially the business realm, is geared toward extroverts.
Take traditional networking scenarios like BNI and other similar organizations. They are centered around small talk, making connections, reaching out and trading information.
Talk about an Introvert’s Nightmare!
That is about as Energy Bucket Draining as anything I can imagine.
I joined my local Chamber of Commerce when I first started my business and it took me two meetings before I realized that I was not going to thrive in a setting like that. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Chamber and everything they stand for and do for the local community. BNI is an international networking company and helps millions around the world.
But it was NOT the right avenue for me to promote myself and my business.
However, because that’s something that I’d been told “business people do,” I felt like a failure for not thriving in that setting.
Introverts should not feel like failures for not loving environments or tactics designed for extroverts.
WE ARE NOT FAILURES.
We are simply different.
There are other ways to succeed and thrive in business, while allowing yourself to stay true to your introverted nature.
A Message to My Fellow Introverts:
It’s easy to feel inferior in the busy, fast paced, stimulus-filled world we live in.
As I’ve just finished hammering home, being an introvert is often misunderstood. We are frequently misjudged and falsely labeled for characteristics that are as deeply rooted in us as our skin color and eye color.
Please don’t let this make you second-guess yourself.
[I’m talking to myself here too.]
We are perfect in all of our introverted glory.
We need to be kind to ourselves and realize that we are different and need different things to thrive in life.
And then we need to find what sorts of things those are. For us.
xoxo from a fellow Introvert,
P.S. It helps to know we’re not alone. This article is spot on and made me smile.
I especially laughed at #13. DID THEY READ MY MIND?! Just yesterday I was watching the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and this lady was chosen from the audience to come on stage. I said to Matt, “I wouldn’t go up. Nope. I’d hide.”
P.P.S. If you are an introvert, or want to learn more about what it’s like to be one in this world today, I can’t recommend Susan Cain’s book Quiet enough. I think it’s the best resource on this topic out there.