Category Archives: Psychology

Life as an Introvert

I’ve talked about being an introvert before. I’ve talked about being an INTJ, the misconceptions of introverts (shyness in particular), and responding to lists about introverts. But I’ve never done this. I made a video!

Reaching an entirely new audience, I’m talking about what it’s like to be an introvert. I discussed a few different topics, such as:

  • Shyness
  • Small talk
  • Alone time
  • Parties
  • Answering your phone
  • Being centre of attention
  • Being observant
  • Social anxiety
  • Practicing conversations
  • Being asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
  • “Introversion is bad”

So, check out the video:

Any introverts reading this? What your life like as an introvert? Let me know in the comments below.

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An Introvert’s Life

In response to Huffington Post’s article, 10 Things That Don’t Make Sense To Introverts, I’m going to talk about the points that it brings up and related them to my own experiences.

According to the Myers-Briggs test, I’m an INTJ. Of course, this isn’t entirely scientific, and really has no bearing on my real personality, but it’s good for giving a general idea about my personality. I am what you would consider one of those highly logical, calm, deep-thinking introverts that tend to be direct and don’t beat around the bush. As I’ve said before, I am not shy. I just dislike inane conversation with strangers in social situations. However, my new job will allow me to get straight to the point and have fun with science. So, let’s get on with it! I renamed the points so they’d be clearer.

1. Parties

Can’t stand big parties, especially if there aren’t many people I know. I prefer spending time with friends. If I know everyone at the party, that’s perfectly fine. No need for meaningless small talk.

2. Small Talk

Like I said before, small talk is mostly meaningless to me. However, I do it. I like to talk about the weather, actually. But it has to do with the fact that I’m interested in the weather on a scientific level.

3. Alone Time

I value my alone time. Very, very much! I like walking alone, watching my favourite TV shows alone, and especially reading alone. Since I don’t have to interact with people, I feel my energy recharging. Constant contact with people tires me out.

4. Shyness

Introversion does not mean shy. I’m not shy. I was when I was a kid, but I grew out of it. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m shy. I’m listening.

5. Answering Your Phone

I really dislike talking on the phone. I prefer to text or email. I just don’t like talking to people unless I can see their face. I’m an observant person, so I like to have full sensory input while I’m talking to someone so I can accurately judge the person’s attitude. Phones take that away, and I feel like I’m running a machine without all the components. I also hate answering the phone when I’m having a quiet moment for myself. It’s my time, and a phone is intrusive.

6. Hugging Acquaintances

Unless they’re close to me, I prefer not to hug. But I love hugging my daughter. That’s the best thing in the world.

7. Open Office Plans

Having worked in an open plan call centre, I can say it’s not my favourite thing. I felt far more comfortable with my own classroom while I was teaching English. I don’t want half wall partitions, I want full walls and a door. It’s quieter and I can concentrate better.

8. Being the Centre of Attention

When I played hockey, I avoided scoring goals. I didn’t want to be the centre of attention. In my previous job as an English teacher, I often was the centre attention, but with small groups. Now that I’ll be presenting science in a science museum, I’ll have a bigger audience, and am forced to be the centre of attention. But since I’ve been vlogging and making YouTube videos, I’m trying to make myself be the centre of attention.

9. Being Observant

I watch. I watch everything. I watch people and how they behave. I’m pretty good at seeing people’s attitudes and reactions. I adjust my approach accordingly. I notice what people say and do. And I take note.

10. Introversion Is Bad?

Absolutely not! In general, at least for my kind of introvert, we are very observant, learn quickly, understand things quite well, and don’t take things at face value. We want to know the facts. We want to know how things work and why they work that way. We also tend to know bullshit when we see it. As thinkers, we tend to make good decisions, too.

Any introverts out there? I’m sure some of you are. What are your thoughts about these points that the article brings up? Let me know in the comments below.

Foreigners Behaving Strangely in Japan

In Canada, it’s quite normal for people to nod or say hello to complete strangers on the street. In general, Canadians are a friendly and polite bunch of people. And it’s genuine friendliness.

In Japan, it’s normal for people to stare straight ahead and ignore everyone around them. Whenever there is eye contact, there is a friendliness and politeness. People will help others out, especially if they’re foreigners or elderly. But in general, it’s not genuine friendliness. It’s a way to maintain the harmony of Japanese society.

When foreigners meet each other on the street and they don’t know each other, that’s when things become awkward. A more normal behaviour is usually just brief eye contact and a nod. That’s nothing unusual. However, what happened to me last night was very awkward.

Because of the tendency to avoid eye contact in public, many long time residents of Japan from other countries start conforming to public behaviour norms. But looking at people is a normal thing in Canada, so I often take a quick glance. Well, as I got off the bus, a white woman walked down the sidewalk in the opposite direction as me, so we were bound to face each other. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, and she did the exact same thing with me. We both realised what we were doing, and maintained an awkward silence as we passed each other. Both of us noticed that there was another white person and tried to discreetly see if we recognised each other. The result was a very strange and kind of creepy eye contact, our faces forward, our eyes looking sideways, locked on to each other.

After that, I realised how ridiculous we must have looked, and my initial feeling was that I wanted to tell her how silly we were. However, I didn’t know if she was an English speaker. She could’ve been Russian or Polish or Romanian, and may not have been able to speak English. So, I just carried on going home.

In the country you live in, how do strangers behave toward each other in public? Let me know in the comments below.

What if…? Unruly Teenagers in a Train Station

Imagine this situation happens (it actually happened tonight in front of me). A group of thirteen or fourteen year old boys are fooling around on the escalator in a train station, and as they get off, they partially block other people as they push each other around. They’re being noisy, silly, and they seem to be having fun. They don’t seem to be maliciously causing others any inconvenience.

Behind them, there’s a middle-aged businessman who is trying to get around them, but he can’t. He shouts at them to stop fooling around and behave themselves in such a busy public location.

In your country, how would the teenagers react to the businessman? Post your answer in the comments below.

As for in Japan, the teenagers would most likely apologise and behave. Something like this has happened to me, when a group of teenagers were pretending to punch each other on the train. One of them actually did punch another, and he bumped into me. They immediately started doing a little head bow in apology when I glared at them. They didn’t mean to bump into me.

Who Has Your Personality Type?

I found this infographic on the internet (obviously):

Famous Personality Types

What I find interesting is that it describes INTJ as a natural leader. So, basically, I’m a strategist. I guess I do a lot of careful planning in many ways. And I do like strategy games.  But it shows some famous people who have the same personality type as me.

First is Mark Zuckerberg. How interesting. The founder of Facebook is like me? Why didn’t I think of something like Facebook? I’d be rich.

Second is Jay-Z. Not Jay Dee.  Jay-Z.

Third is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Really? How come I don’t have muscles like him or a totally cool Austrian German accent?

Fourth is Karl Marx. Well, I’m not a Marxist, but I do think some parts of communism has its merits. Just don’t give us the dictators who think they’re communists.

Finally, we have Nikola Tesla. That guy was a genius!

So, how about you? If you don’t know your personality type, you can find it on this blog post. Who are your famous personality twins?

Teaching Introverts and Shy Students

When I was in school, I was not only an introvert, but also quite shy. I was the very quiet kid who didn’t like speaking in front of the class. Reading reports in front of my classmates was one of the worst things I could’ve been asked to do.

A lot of teachers say it’s a good thing to get kids to speak in front of class like that. Did it help me? Did it allow me to “come out of my shell” a bit? Not at all. Each time was terrifying and didn’t make things any better. That’s not to say it doesn’t help others, but in my case, I didn’t get over my shyness until I was in my 20s and had a job involving talking to strangers over the phone. My confidence developed because of that, and soon after, I was promoted to Team Leader, which is a supervisory role. I was then talking in front of groups of people doing project briefings. And now, I teach. I’m always in front of people talking to them. I don’t get nervous about it. I’m confident in my lessons. My shyness went away, but my introversion remains.

What’s the difference? Shyness is a personality trait that leads to social anxiety. There’s a fear of speaking to people, being the centre of attention, and a strong desire to just get away from everyone. Eye contact is difficult, using a louder voice is nearly impossible, and sweating is often profuse while having to speak to or meet new people. This is something that can be changed, but people shouldn’t be forced to change. That can cause an even stronger social anxiety.

Introverts have an actual physical difference in their brains than extroverts. The brains of many individuals have been examined, and it was determined that introverts have more than a personality difference, it’s physical. They’re likely born that way. Introverts gain energy by being alone. They spend energy while being in social situations. A party is tiring, but that doesn’t mean an introvert doesn’t enjoy parties. They may like them in moderation. I personally don’t like parties, unless it’s only good friends or people I like. I’d prefer not to be overstimulated by a lot of strangers coming to me for some small talk. Small talk is something introverts find tiring and pointless. We want to talk, but we want to talk about deep subjects, not shallow small talk. This reluctance to speak to strangers seems to appear like shyness, but it isn’t. And also, introverts tend to take their time to answer. That hesitation isn’t shyness, it’s just that the answers are being well thought out. Introverts like precise and effective communication. They want to get to the point, cut out the unnecessary details, but be very thorough about giving all of the important information. They are excellent communicators when they need to be, can be excellent leaders and decision-makers, and are great judges of character. One of my abilities is to adapt to different personality types. I find it remarkably easy to get along with just about everyone. Not everyone sees my true personality, but I learn about others’ personalities and adjust my outward “personality” accordingly. It’s like I’m a chameleon.

When teaching introverts and shy people, it can be a bit different. I understand both introverted and shy students. For adults, they tend to be more in control of their shyness and introverted tendencies.  Kids have a lot more trouble with it, though.

For shy kids, they don’t want to talk. They’re quiet, they notoriously difficult to get to say anything, and they rarely talk to their classmates. They often look down or look around at anything but other people. Patience is important for the teacher, but also finding a way to build the student’s confidence.  Confidence is the main issue with shy kids.

For introverted kids, they are not necessarily shy, but are also often quiet, especially in larger groups. Get an introvert in a small two or one student class, and they are more likely to talk rather than listen. There’s hesitation when they answer. This isn’t shyness. This isn’t nerves. This is just them formulating their answer in full before they answer. They’re perfectly capable of having fun with other kids, but they’re also likely to be more serious. Although, I have had introverted kids laughing a lot, while extroverted ones are incredibly serious, but very talkative.

I think in both cases, patience on the teacher’s part is important. For shy students, take time to get them to feel more confident. They’ll likely feel better as they get to know other students, but are likely to shy away from speaking in front of large groups. Introverts need time to answer, because they want to have a thoughtful and precise answer. Speaking in front of a large class may not be a problem in their case, but it is draining if they have to do very social activities.

In my case, being both an introvert and a shy student, I had the misfortune of being afraid to speak out in class. However, I felt more comfortable in small groups of about three or four people, and I would offer my thoughts, and often take a bit of a leadership role.

So, teachers, if you aren’t an introvert, and you don’t fully understand what it’s like to be an introvert, please try to understand that forcing them into an extrovert mould is likely to backfire. It’s not in their nature to behave like an extrovert. Speeches in front of class aren’t exactly helpful. Group work is better.

This post is in response to an article that appeared in the Huffington Post.

Teachers, introverts, and anyone else, what are your thoughts on this subject? Let me know in the comments below.

Introverted Does Not Mean Shy

A lot of people have this misconception that introversion means shy. They often say that introverted people need to come out of their shell and socialise with others at parties. Well, take a look at this video. It’s called Body Language for Introverts. You’ll notice that I have the top comment at the moment (if you go to the YouTube page for the video). I love how one person goes on a rant about how North Americans are all extroverts, and that’s what makes North America so great and powerful.  Too bad for him many major business leaders and actors are introverts.

The video gets off to a really bad start. It equates introversion to people who have social anxieties, always having trouble figuring out what to say, or a lack of confidence.  Wrong!

I was once a shy person. Being shy means the above three things. I am not shy now. I’m still introverted, though. What introversion means is that you gain energy by doing more solitary activities, while being in a social situation drains us of energy. We need more solitary time to recharge our batteries, basically.

Let’s look at these three points Vanessa Van Edwards brings up. First, we have social anxieties. Not really, no. That’s what a shy person has. I have no problem being at a social gathering with many people around me. I just prefer to talk to people I know. I’m not nervous at all.  If I’m sitting at the side being quiet, people immediately assume there’s a problem and ask me what’s wrong. Nothing’s wrong, I’m just observing. Think of it as information gathering. I’m also studying people’s behaviour, which is extremely useful when speaking to them. I use this information to adapt how I speak with them. Extroverts tend to speak to everyone the same way. Introverts learn to adapt to different people’s behaviour, and I feel we become better communicators in deep conversation.

Second, she says introverts have trouble figuring out what to say.  Well, that hesitation that introverts have at the beginning of a conversation is usually something called “thinking.” We’d rather start off saying something that’s not inane or unimportant. We’d rather not do small talk, you see.  It’s just talking about the same thing over and over again with different people. We’ve done that conversation, so let’s move on to an actual conversation, please. When we’re in a conversation that is actually about something of substance, we don’t shut up.  Really! Take this example. When doing small talk, people will often bring up the weather.  Last night, a typhoon passed by.  In regular small talk, they might say, “Be careful tonight. There’s a typhoon coming.” “Oh, it’ll be so windy and rainy. You be careful, too.” It’s not really communicating any information that’s useful. There’s nothing being said other than acknowledging that they know the same information.  But, put me into the equation, and I say, “Yes, it should be here around 6 pm this evening. The rain is supposed to be the heaviest around midnight, but not so bad. It actually won’t be a typhoon at that time. It’ll be a tropical depression.” That then goes into a rather detailed discussion on both sides about typhoons, hurricanes, tropical storms, etc. What would have normally been a rather meaningless exchange on something we already knew turned into an information exchange that was far more meaningful.  That is how introverts like to talk. And we do talk a lot.

The third point is that she says we’re not confident.  That is complete BS.  Shy people are not confident by definition. Introverts are quite confident, especially my personality type, INTJ. We’re known for being straightforward and often a bit too blunt in what we say. We’re honest, we say what we think, and we’re confident about it. We just say it in a way that has a lot of thought behind it, rather than blurting out something that we might regret.

So, people, don’t confuse introversion with shyness. They are not the same thing. Vanessa Van Edwards does not know what an introvert is.  Take this from a real introvert: we are not shy. Quiet, yes. Shy, not all of us.