Human personality traits can easily be classified into two categories: Introverts and Extroverts. Although, no one is completely one or the other; we all exhibit some characteristics of both. Do not get me wrong, there’s more to human personality than just being an introvert or extrovert. This article is focused on “introversion” only, as I am Introvert, INFP-T to be precise and being one allows me to write from experience which gives the article a stamp of genuineness.
It is certainly not easy being an introvert especially if you’re ignorant of your personality trait. Introverts are misunderstood most times. Sometimes, more often than not, our actions or body language are interpreted wrongly, in a different way than intended and we are judged wrongly. In all fairness people around us just do not get the chance to unravel the mystery that we are, as this takes patience, lots of it.
Growing up I struggled to find a true sense of belonging, particularly during my teenage years. As much as I loved learning, I did not enjoy participating in group activities and projects. I dreaded speaking up in front of my classmates. I was called different names like “stuck-up, conceited, shy, dull, weird”, even written off as having Asperger’s syndrome. Of course, this judgement came from people who barely knew me, since getting to know an introvert requires a lot of work. As no one explained to me what introversion was, I hadn’t the foggiest idea. I just knew I was different and didn’t fit the mould of the traditionally involved and sociable high school kid. I didn’t understand why I felt happiest alone or why I could only bring myself to hang out with one or two friends at a time and my constant desire to recharge and reflect.
Introverts have been defined by different people as different things. In this regard, I’d like to say that an introvert in my own opinion is someone who prefers calm, minimum stimulating environments to loud, highly stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained quickly after socializing or spending too much time with others, sometimes we get drained quickly when we do not take breaks to recharge our energy. Being seen as an ignorant introverted kid, made me feel so lonely. I just couldn’t do most of the things my friends enjoyed, like going out and socializing. I always felt anxious meeting new people and I tried as hard as I could to avoid it. Wondering why I wasn’t as expressive and as eloquent as my extroverted friends sent me on a quest for answers. And in my quest, I discovered new things, things I would have never figured out if not for my curiosity. The more I dug, the more my mind expanded, the more I became aware of different personalities. I started making friends with other introverts and I realized they were just like me, and that it is okay to be different from our extroverted friends. Extroverts do recharge their energy by socializing and getting attention while introverts recharge their energy by living in their own world.
It would be useful to know what your personality is as this would help you navigate through life more easily. They always say the best way to start is to start with a question. So how do you know you are Introvert? By answering the following questions honestly, you’ll become a step closer to your discovery.
Do you spend a lot of time in your head?
Do you always spend your day day-dreaming?
Have you always felt different?
Do you enjoy spending time alone?
Do you ever feel like you’re the only person who doesn’t need to talk, talk, talk while with people?
Do you feel like you don’t really need to be around people all the time?
Are you the type that will go on Wikipedia to read about a particular topic and end up spending hours reading about more complicated topics, unaware of the existence of others?
Trust me, these are introvert traits, at least it’s true for me and the introverted people I’ve met.
The truth is, we aren’t empty or devoid of intelligence and thought at all. Yes, I was different from my vibrant extroverted peers, but it wasn’t vibrancy that I lacked, nor was I cold-hearted and as anti-social as I seemed. In fact, I was brimming with philosophical ideas and a big, creative imagination. It wasn’t until I took my MBTI personality test when I finally found a way to express myself. I now know I am simply an introvert, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with me in the least. However, there are a few things I wish I could tell my sixteen-year-old self — and today’s introverted teenagers.
You, as an introverted teenager, have something important to share with the world. There are other nonverbal ways you can express your gifts, knowledge and passions. You do not have to be a chatter box to be successful in life. I learned the word “introvert” from adults who wanted me to change. For a long time, I rebelled against the label, instead, I claimed I was a “shy extrovert” because I perceived an overall negative association with introversion. My extroverted friends and relatives presented it to me as something to overcome, a weakness, so I didn’t want to consider it a part of my identity. As you get older, I promise you’ll find ways to use your introverted superpowers to enrich your career and relationships. You’ll know when to socialize, and when to say, “I’d rather stay in tonight,” or, “I’d rather skip the party. You’ll learn balance.
As an adult, I now understand that being an introvert is not a character flaw. We just see and interact with the world in a different way. However, we live and work within systems that aren’t supportive of introverts. I believe my instinct to hold in my opinion and meaningless chatter taught me how to be a better listener, to pay attention to details and gain a better sense of who I am, and how to identify other people’s authenticity, and have an immense appreciation for the world. Introversion isn’t a disease that should be cured or a flaw that should be corrected. If the vibrant, blustering teenager is seen as normal why is the reserved, silent teenager seen in a different light? No personality type is better than the other and none more useful.