Tag Archives: introverts

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.

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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.

Introversion Does Not Mean…

Shy

Being introverted doesn’t mean a person is shy.  Sure, I used to be shy when I was a kid, but I’m not now.  I’m still introverted.  Shyness implies a social awkwardness.  Shy people are very self-conscious about how they look, how they behave, and have trouble interacting with people.  Introverts are often quite comfortable being quiet listeners.  See me at a party being quiet?  I’m not being shy.  I’m just relaxing and enjoying the conversations around me.  Sure, you’re sucking my energy away, but it doesn’t mean I dislike social interaction. I actually enjoy it.

Boring

A lot of extroverts seem to think that introverts are boring, mainly because they don’t have much to say.  You should see what goes on inside our minds.  We are intense and deep thinkers.  We think about everything that goes on around us, what’s happening in the world, anything.  We have so many very thoughtful and creative ideas that we don’t know where to start.  Many of us actually have the same interests as you, we just don’t scream, shout, and laugh about it.

Follower

Some are.  But there are many introverted leaders.  Take a look here.  Abraham Lincoln was introverted.   Bill Gates is introverted.  Those are just two examples.  Introverts tend to be calm in times of stress, think their decisions through carefully, and are very good at preparation.  Sounds like a good leader to me.

Something is wrong

Introverts are normal.  We just deal with energy in a different way than extroverts.  I gain energy through reading, solitary walking, blogging, and urban exploration.  I lose energy by being at noisy parties, bars, and clubs.  If you see me sitting there not talking, but watching, nothing is wrong.  I’m just recharging.

Extroverts, do yourselves and us a favour, try to understand how we do things.  Ease yourselves into a conversation with us, and you may find that we’re quite talkative and very interesting.  That is if we like you.

Introvert Problem Checklist

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll probably know I’m an introvert.  Pulptastic recently posted a list of problems that only introverts would understand.  Well, let’s see if I understand them.

1. Practicing conversations with people you’ll never talk to.

Guilty.  I’ve done this, though I can’t tell you who I had conversations with.  They’re not real.  I guess this is kind of a way of practicing what I would say in different situations if they ever arose.

2. When you want to cut all ties to civilization but still be on the internet.

Several years ago, yes.  These days, no.  I actually like going out.  I don’t do this anymore, but I used to.

3. When your friend wants to invite more people over, and you don’t want to sound like a bad person by saying no.

Yeah.  I preferred to avoid large groups, but I found it hard to say no.  Not such a problem now.

4. When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends.

Yeah, well, I enjoyed my time alone.

5. And you fear that by doing so, you are nearing ‘hermit’ status.

I was a hermit for a while in university.  I didn’t go out except for class.

6. When your ride at a party doesn’t want to leave early, and no one seems to understand your distress.

Hasn’t happened to me before, since I tended to avoid parties.  But I guess there were times when I simply didn’t go to parties to avoid being around people I barely knew.

7. Trying to be extra outgoing when you flirt so your crush doesn’t think you hate them.

Flirt?  What’s that?  I didn’t flirt.  I was too embarrassed to do that.

8. That feeling of dread that washes over you when the phone rings and you’re not mentally prepared to chat.

This wasn’t a problem, to be honest…until after I worked at a call centre.  Working at a call centre made me hate talking on the phone, and I am always reluctant to answer if it’s an unknown number.

9. When you have an awesome night out, but have to deal with feeling exhausted for days after the fact.

Hasn’t happened.  I avoided big nights out.

10. People saying “Just be more social.”

This is annoying.  I don’t have that problem these days, having learned how to be more outgoing.

11. When you’re able to enjoy parties and meetings, but after a short amount of time wish you were home in your pajamas.

Yeah, this has happened. I’ve enjoyed early parts of parties, then kept watching the clock to see when it was time to go home.  This was much more common when I was a kid, and at a party my parents dragged me to.  I just wanted to leave.

12. Staying up late every night because it’s the only time that you can actually be alone.

Yes! And it seems like some people just don’t understand this.  Like my daughter.  She just won’t go to bed.

13. People making you feel weird for wanting to do things by yourself.

Yeah.  Seeing movies, eating in restaurants, things like that.  I did that alone, and I felt awkward when people looked at me.

14. Having more conversations in your head than you do in real life.

I do have a lot of conversations in my head.  Isn’t that normal?  I get lost in my own thoughts a lot, but I tend to figure out a lot of things that way, especially with my writing.

15. The need to recharge after social situations.

Absolutely.  They drain me.

16. People calling you out for day dreaming too much.

Not really.  I’ve always been quite alert and aware of everything going on around me.  I’ve never been a daydreaming introvert.  I’m an observational introvert.

17. Carrying a book to a public place so no one will bug you, but other people take that as a conversation starter.

It happened!  I was reading an astronomy magazine when I was in university, and a woman came up to me to tell me how beautiful the universe is and that God was so wonderful.  I felt awkward and excused myself.

18. People interrupting your thoughts, and you get irrationally angry.

Not really.  I cope with that well.

19. Having to say “I kind of want to spend some time by myself” when you have to deal with that friend that always wants to hang out.

I haven’t really had a friend like that, to be honest.  But I did sometimes turn down invitations because I had “plans.”

20. When you’re asked to do a group project, and know that you’re going to hate every minute of it.

This is the story of every science experiment in junior high and high school I’ve done.  I was the top science student in my grade, and I really detested it when mediocre and scientifically impaired classmates tried to tell me how the experiments are really done.  They were ignoring the instructions.  I made sure to let the teacher know that they were doing it wrong, but here’s the interpretation of the data we gathered.  I always got top marks despite my partners’ mistakes.

21. When you hear the question “Wanna hang out?”, and your palms start to sweat with anxiety.

Not really.

22. When you hear, “Are you OK?” or “Why are you so quiet?” for the umpteenth time.

I got this so much.  It was incredibly irritating.  Yes, I am OK.  I’m quiet because that’s just how I am.  I’m a listener, not a speaker.

23. Having visitors stay with you is a nightmare, because it means you have to be on at ALL TIMES.

Not a problem when it’s family.  Maybe I just get along with my family.

24. When people stop inviting you places because you’re the one that keeps canceling plans.

I don’t cancel.

25. Being horrified of small talk, but enjoying deep discussions.

I’m not horrified of small talk, I just find it awkward.  Deep discussions are amazing, though.  Love them.

26. When you need to take breaks and recharge after socializing for too long.

Yup.  I tended to withdraw at social gatherings and just listen from time to time.  But it wasn’t all the time.  I regained some energy and socialised again.

27. The requirement to think introspectively rather than go to someone else with your problems.

Yeah, I usually figured out any problem I had by myself.  Maybe this had more to do with pride, as I was always figuring out everything by myself in school.  That is, except when I had a bully.  I went for help then.

28. Not wanting to be alone, just wanting to be left alone. And people not understanding that.

I don’t really like being alone.  I hated it when I was single.  However, I have always needed time to be left alone.  This does not mean I’m being antisocial, it means I’m recharging.  And I need time alone to get lost in thought about various topics.

29. When people mistake your thoughtful look for being shy, or worse, moody.

This has happened.  But when I was a kid, I really was shy.  These days, people think I’m always very calm and quiet.  I’m usually deep in thought at those times.

30. That people need to know that you aren’t mad, depressed or anti-social. You just need to not talk to anyone for a while. And that’s okay.

Absolutely.  It is not being antisocial.  Being alone for a while means I’m getting my very important recharge time.  Being an introvert, I gain energy while I’m alone.

While some of these don’t apply to me, I can understand them all.  For those of you who are introverts, what do you think?  And for those of you who are extroverts, can you understand?

The Power of Introverts – from TED

I don’t have to say much here, I think this video will explain how I feel extremely well.  Introverts in today’s society seem to be marginalised in many ways.  Teachers think something is wrong if a student is quiet and prefers to work alone.  People at parties think the person sitting quietly off in one corner are antisocial and that something is wrong with them.

When I was in school, I dreaded being paired up with the classmate who wasn’t good at science for experiments.  There were many reasons for this.  First, they usually figured that since I was quiet, I was a follower, and they would lead the experiment.  Second, they usually didn’t know what they were doing, yet still insisted they were right.  Third, they didn’t want to write any of the report and would ask me to do it.  I didn’t want to get dragged down by them.  Thankfully, the teacher marked us on how well we could write our reports and discuss our results, and not on how well our results matched the expectations.  I did very well, my partner did not.

And like the speaker, Susan Cain, I love my books and I want to protect them as much as possible.  Please watch, then later leave your comments.