The Definition of an Introvert

While the second day of the new year is a bank holiday for those in Scotland, it’s also a day for introverts.

It marks World Introvert’s Day’s seventh year giving a voice to those who have difficulty using their own. However, quite like the people it’s celebrating, the day is quiet, with not much publicity.

In a world of extroverts, introversion is a topic many people, even introverts, can find hard to describe. They’re shy, they overthink, they’re antisocial, they don’t have friends, they’re too sensitive … A typical description of an introvert, although many will roll their eyes at these stereotypes.

For a better understanding on the true meaning of being an introvert, it’s best to speak to the experts.

Sophia Dembling is the author of books detailing introversion such as: Introvert’s in Love and The Introvert’s Way. She also writes for Psychology Today, with her own section of articles called The Introvert’s Corner, where she gives advice on living life with introversion.

She said: “The definition most introverts are comfortable with was popularised by Carl Jung, who described extroverts as being energised by social interactions, while introverts’ energy is drained by them. Introverts need quiet solitude to recharge.

“We aren’t shy – shyness is a fear. A person who is shy may want social interaction but is fearful or anxious about it. Introversion is about motivation – we simply are not motivated to seek out a lot of interaction.”

Sophia Dembling takes a new spin on introversion in her material using humour and information (Source: Quiet Revolution)

In other words: introverts enjoy their own company and space.

As Dembling said, shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Where shyness can prevent people from speaking entirely, socialising for introverts is simply just exhausting. The extent of this effect differs from person to person.

“It affects different aspects of life differently. You may find you need to build solitude and quiet time into your days in order to recharge after a lot of interaction.

“We also tend to have fewer friends by choice, and prefer one-on-one interactions to large groups.”

This way of life can understandably come off as anti-social. It’s not surprising that some researchers believe that introversion is a result of mental illness and should be something to worry about.

Step-by-step guide to care for an introvert (Source: Flickr)


But does introversion and social anxiety really tie-in together?

Dembling disagrees: “In my opinion, this is not true at all. Most introverts are perfectly healthy and happy; we simply have our own way of functioning in the world that does not require a thousand friends or relentless activity. Introversion is a trait, not an illness.”

On the contrary to popular belief that extroverts’ rule the world, a new study by Psychological Science shows that there are, in fact, a lot of introverts across the globe, but they are simply outshone by their counterparts.

“Research indicates that introverts make up 30 to 50% of the population,” Dembling explains.

She added: “It may seem like there are more extroverts because they are more vocal, and because we are more likely to know a lot of extroverts because they tend to have a lot of friends.”

Introversion is not a ‘problem’ or something to be ashamed of. Although you may feel like the only introvert around, the person sitting next to you may also be one. It’s a normal trait some people have.

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