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What It Means to Have an Introvert Personality

When I tell other people that I'm introverted, they often say that's impossible, because I am generally outgoing and genuinely enjoy the company of other people. In truth, I am an introvert—there is simply a common misconception that introverted people are always shy and do not like socializing with others.

Many people refer to themselves or other people as introverts without actually understanding what introversion means. Below I'll try to dispel the myths, and explain what it really means to have an introverted personality.

You may love to run, but you can only run for so long before you become exhausted and need to rest.

You may love to run, but you can only run for so long before you become exhausted and need to rest.

A Simple Explanation

The simplest way to explain introversion is this: 

Think of a sport you really enjoy.  Perhaps you love to run, or play soccer, or swim.  You may be very good at it, and you may enjoy it a great deal, but how long can you keep playing it?  After one hour, you may feel pumped; after two, you are a bit more fatigued - and after going at it for three hours, you'll be downright exhausted.

For introverts, social activities are much like sports - they may be very enjoyable, but they take up a lot of energy.  For this reason, introverts need to rest after a certain amount of socializing.  It's that simple!

A More Formal Explanation

The term "introversion," which is derived from the latin words intros (inside) and vertere (seek), was first coined by Carl Jung in his 1921 work Psychological Types. The formal definition of introversion is "the directing of interest inwards towards one's own thoughts and feelings rather than towards the external world or making social contacts."

Introverts derive energy from their inner selves and tend to recharge their batteries by being alone. Conversely, introverts lose energy when they spend time amongst others. They are known for being attentive listeners, thinking before taking action, speaking slowly, maintaining attention, and maintaining a smaller (but very close) circle of friends.

Introverts can be grouped into two types- one type is confident, self-sufficient, and hardworking though aloof, the other type has trouble communicating, is very shy, and wishes to be left alone. This latter type has become the introverted stereotype, however the former type is just as abundant and, though often assumed to be extroverted, needs just as much "alone time" to recharge as the former.

Introverts and Culture

Different cultures favor introverted and extroverted personalities in turn.  While Central Europe and Japan are known for harboring more introverted cultures, the United States is known for being a very extroverted society, and this society can leave its introverted citizens at a bit of a disadvantage.  Interestingly, some states in the U.S. are known for harboring more introverted cultures - they include Maryland, New Hampshire, Alaska, Washington, Vermont, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

The Benefits of an Introvert Personality

Being an introvert is by no means a bad thing - introverts are generally good listeners, and though they are known for having fewer friends, the friendships they do keep are typically very strong. 

Introverts are also known for having better attention spans and focus, making them more effective at staying on task when working on involved projects.  Some studies have also suggested that introverts have better long-term memory than their extroverted counterparts.

The Downsides of an Introverted Personality

Depending on the type of introvert one is, an introverted person may run into trouble with others for being shy, having poor communication skills, or seeming aloof and disinterested in others.  Most of these problems can be overcome- once one gets to know an introvert and understands his or her personality, one will be less likely to take things personally- however these issues can make networking and socializing with strangers very difficult.

Perhaps the greatest downside to being an introvert is that several studies have shown that people with extroverted personalities tend to be happier.  This is probably due to the fact that one of the greatest proven sources of happiness involves socialization and the development of strong relationships with others- something which introverts may have difficulty doing.  Introverts can obviously overcome this obstacle, but it takes a lot of concerted effort.

"No sir, I am to be let alone"

"No sir, I am to be let alone"

Living With an Introvert

If you are an extrovert and live with an introvert, you might find yourself frustrated at times by your introverted relation's hesitancy to socialize. After all, you as an extrovert, gain energy from being around other people. Being alone gets you in the dumps, and you need to socialize.

If you have an introverted roomie, friend, family member, or significant other, try to understand that he or she gets tired out by social situations. If you go to a party together, consider how long you might be there and be considerate of the fact that your introverted buddy is going to lose energy with time. It might be smart to agree upon a set time of departure before leaving for social functions. You might also benefit form having some alternate, extroverted buddies you can call on when your introvert needs some alone time.

Most importantly, do not take your introverted relation's need to be alone personally. You are probably very important to him or her - your introverted friend does not likely have many other confidants in life, so you are all the more important!

Living With an Introverted Personality

If you are an introvert, the first thing you can do to improve your life is understand how introversion works (which, if you did not already understand, you do now). By knowing that social functions draw energy out of you, you can understand what is going on when you start to crash after a person-filled day.

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To make sure that you get the most enjoyment possible out of social situations, plan ahead and pace yourself. Make sure that before or after social events, you have time alone to recuperate. Having fixed start and end times for social gatherings makes a big differences and helps you conserve energy.

Also, try to explain to people why you sometimes need to be alone. Many introverts inadvertently hurt others' feelings simply because they do not explain that their avoidance of other people at times is derived form internal exhaustion, not dislike. By explaining to others that you are an introvert, and breaking down what an introvert actually is, you will not only improve your own relationships, but also help the relationships your extroverted friends have with other introverts.

Spread the Word!

I hope you have learned something new from this explanation, and that you share your newfound knowledge with others.  The more people understand how introverts work, the more introverts will be able to cultivate happy, healthy relationships.  This is important, for as studies show, good relationships are one of the most important components of successful, satisfying lives!


Lakshmi on April 30, 2016:

Very very useful information. Thank you so much. Clarity to the core about introversion. Thanks again

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on May 20, 2013:

That sounds like a pretty good work environment to me, IamBullyproofMusic!

IamBullyproofMusic on April 24, 2013:

Thank you for explaining in black and white. I'm outgoing to the max haha like a happy puppy when I'm out in the world. But after about an hour I'm pooped. I work at home alone and it's bliss!

SunnieH18 on April 14, 2013:

Very well written and explained. I agree that not all introverts are shy as I am not. I used to struggle and do still at times struggle in social settings in my quest for balance to conserve energy, be outgoing and not feel awkward.

Nadia from brooklyn, new york on March 30, 2013:

Hi there, I appreciate your post, very concise and clear education about introverts! Id like to add though that one can go from being the socially uncomfortable type to the more confident type with practice as I have done this myself. I used to be very shy but now while im still of course an introvert, most people wouldn't call me shy at most times.

Kari Pete from Oakland, CA on July 23, 2012:

I wonder if introverts are found to be less happy because they feel they should be more extroverted and it just doesn't work out. Once I let go of the need to try to be really social, I was more at ease with myself.

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on July 20, 2012:

Simone Smith, Wonderful informative insigjhtful hub! Thank You for sharing, Peace & Blessings!

Houndofbas on May 23, 2012:

Thank you for this article, I am an introvert and I am very shy. I get hot flushes all the time for no reason when talking to new people or in social situations. I am also a musician, I link the two. I like to be out in the middle of the countryside on my own writing music and only on rare occasions socialise with my very few friends.

rcfields from Muncie, Indiana on May 17, 2012:

Thanks for writing this hub! I am an introvert and have had trouble with other people understanding how I am at different times in my life. I now understand a little more about it.

Lily B on May 16, 2012:

Thank you for writing an excellent article on the subject!

normskismith on May 05, 2012:

I can relate to this as I have an introvert personality.This article is the best explanation of what it is to have an introvert personality, now I understand me a little. Thanks for this.

Kenny from Canada on April 25, 2012:

To think, I thought I fully understood what an introvert personality was! Thanks for the insight - not only am I more educated on the topic, but I now have a much better understanding of what category or cross categories my own personality falls under!

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on April 17, 2012:

After reading your Disneyland hub I wanted to look at some of your previous hubs and came across this one that literally jumped off my computer screen. Never explained as well as you put it I have been arguing this particular theory for years. Being social and extroverted have always been two separate arenas for me personally. Always introverted I often have to take "mental health days" after attending back to back social occasions. Ty for an interesting and well written hub. The next time I am challenged by an augmentative extrovert claiming I am part of their "tribe" I will use the information here to hammer home my point. Voted up and interesting.

Aubz on April 13, 2012:

Most of my life I have always thought there was something "wrong" with me... I always labeled myself as "shy" or "socially inept" and when I would tell people this, they would look at me weird and say "You - shy - I wouldn't have thought that at all". It shocked me to hear how people view me. I didn't know how else to label the way I felt even though it didn't seem correct. I just recently realized I am an introvert - it explains me to a T. It was so relieving to know that having this type of personality is normal.

Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on March 26, 2012:

At last! Someone that understands what an introvert really is. My family cannot understand that I have to have alone time very often. I cannot make social appointments to close together as I need time in between.

anagha on March 17, 2012:

Thanks a ton friend! Being an Introvert myself, was ashamed to accept this fact... But now all's well... I can now proudly tell that IAM AN INTROVERT thanks again!!:)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on February 15, 2012:

I'm glad you've found this article to be informative, Lani!

Lani on February 14, 2012:

XUpon reading this article, I realized that I'm an introvert because I always spend time with myself & don't want to mingle around with so many people..thanks. Now I know who I am:)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 30, 2012:

Very cool, Rebekah! And I'm glad that this article came in handy :D

Rebekah on January 30, 2012:

I'm an INTP. We might be self-sufficient, but we take "How are you?" to be a serious question and start contemplating its answer :P

Anyway, thanks for providing a source that's perfect for the point I want to make in my research paper :)

Kaleb on December 21, 2011:

Nice to know im not alone. My family acts as though all of these traits are bad and im not going to get very far in my life this way, and that i have to change. Its extremely ignorant of them... But since im only 18 they refuse to think that anything i say might be intelligent or true.

Katie on November 13, 2011:

Wow, now I understand fullt why I am considered by meyer's briggs to be on the edge between extraverion and introversion. Cool! Thanks. :)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 10, 2011:

It never struck me as fair that I should have to explain myself, JoKalvin, but it does help to prevent hurt feelings :D

I hope your friends realize that you just need that time to recharge your batteries!

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 10, 2011:

It never struck me as fair that I should have to explain myself, JoKalvin, but it does help to prevent hurt feelings :D

I hope your friends realize that you just need that time to recharge your batteries!

JoKalvin on November 09, 2011:

I have always known that I am introverted, but I learned something new here: that I need to explain to people why I tend to isolate myself at times. I have never done that, at least explicitly, to people that I communicate with, and that probably explains why I feel like some people find me to be aloof. I don't want them to think that I don't like them, but sometimes, I feel like they think that way, and it's really sad because I do not mean to make people feel that way at the first place.

Sogine on November 07, 2011:

yah,exactly that's what i feel want to be alone sometimes..i might be sociable but i have to be with myself..

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 21, 2011:

So true, Michelle Canonica. It can be quite frustrating! But luckily there are a bunch of things introverts can do to try to skirt around the most difficult issues.

Thanks for stopping by, naturalsolutions!

naturalsolutions on September 20, 2011:

Introvert has a lot of things to consider, so it is just a fast changing of mood or anything close to Thanks Simon.

Michelle Canonica on September 18, 2011:

Thank you! It feels good to be understood. We do live in an extroverted world, especially in corporate America. Introverts are at a definite disadvantage because we make extroverts uneasy. They take it personally when we don't reach out immediately. I don't expect them to be like me. Why am I expected to be like them?

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 16, 2011:

I really think I'd enjoy dinner at your place, gracenotes! Sounds much more introvert-friendly.

You're right. Introverts to organize a bit differently- I suppose the biggest trouble is not that we're different, but that we live in an extroverted society. Ah well!

gracenotes from North Texas on September 03, 2011:

"Having fixed start and end times for social gatherings makes a big difference and helps you conserve energy."

Golly! That's true. And I'm an introvert who sees this clearly.

I have a relative who is very hospitable and outgoing, but her dinner parties were always very open-ended and relaxed. You'd arrive at her house with maybe 10 other guests, and be expected to just stand around and socialize for an hour while munching celery and other crunchies.

I really have the opposite philosophy. When you come to dinner at my house, everything is ready and it's time to sit down and eat. First things first. On its own, good food provides an excellent starting point for discussion.

I'm very critical (only in my mind, of course) of the way a local book discussion group is run. The woman in charge of it must be extroverted. It's way too loose and open, and discussions veer away from the merits of the book itself. Frankly, there's not much structure around the group, and that's why I only attended a couple of times.

I have to say that we introverts organize ourselves a little differently than our friends, the extroverts.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 19, 2011:

Yeah, Dallas never did strike me as the introvert capital of the world. But hey, at least you're not bonkers! Introverts ROCK!!

Brian L. Powell from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff) on August 17, 2011:

As an introvert living in Dallas, Texas, I thank you for this article. I could never figure out why I could only be at a party for an hour before I was seeking out an isolated spot to get away from the crowd. Dallas is not generally kind to introverts. The local zeitgeist is ran by bigger than life personalities.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 17, 2011:

I think I can relate to that too, kimh039! It's odd how that sort of shift can take place. Thanks for stopping by the Hub!

Kim Harris on August 16, 2011:

Carl Jung described himself as introverted at times and extraverted at other times in his life and career; he called this his No. 1 and No. 2 personalities. I can relate to that as I find myself sometimes energized and sometimes drained by social interaction. I did live in Alaska for 3 years and I would have to agree that introversion was better accepted there. Let's face it, after a long winter in Alaska who wouldn't want to come out for an outhouse race in April? Another fun hub. Thanks Simone.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on July 06, 2011:

Well qw, it could be worse, eh?

And thanks gmwilliams! I'm all for militancy :D

Grace Marguerite Williams from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York on July 03, 2011:

Excellent hub. We introverts need to be militant and assert our unique individuality. We are proud introverts and watch out world.

qw on April 09, 2011:

i'm an introvert of the latter type... it's sucks

CMHypno from Other Side of the Sun on April 09, 2011:

Hi Simone, I'm a well-socialised introvert, and am quite happy at parties etc. But I do need my alone time, and can get quite irritable if I can't get it. You are right in saying that a lot of people can't understand that, and take it personally when you want to withdraw for a bit. I think that a lot of writers are probably introverts, as writing entails spending lots of hours alone with your laptop/notebook

The Jet from The Bay on April 05, 2011:

No problemo. Lemme know what your opinion is after you've seen it. Haha.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 05, 2011:

Oh, I'll have to watch it! Thanks for the recommendation!

The Jet from The Bay on April 04, 2011:

You're really good with these! Haha. You know what you should do? You should review one of my all-time favorite films, "PUNCH DRUNK LOVE."

It's about a very introverted person and it's quite the film.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on April 01, 2011:

I know the feeling, Rosefall! I think the more people understand how we work, the less likely we will be to feel awkward in social situations XD

Rosefall from Ohio! on April 01, 2011:

I'm also an introvert, but can seem outgoing in social gatherings. What's funny is I usually feel embarrassed a couple hours later...Or, if I'm not feeling "social" at a gathering, people assume I am a snob, but really I'm feeling shy at that moment...Frustrating!..Oh and I have always HATED being called "shy"...Great article, though. ;-)

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 30, 2011:

Thank you very much, Howard Allen!

Howard Allen on March 29, 2011:

Good explanation. There is a lot of confusion on this subject but this is a lucid overview. Well done.

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 28, 2011:

Thanks ezhang!! What I recommend is making a concerted effort to do more social things while also making them more agreeable. Let's see... for example, I'll go to a friend's party, but I'll spend the morning alone and I'll promise myself that I don't have to stay longer than three hours or so. This makes it easy for me to have fun because I'm mentally rested AND equipped to pace myself.

And lorlie6 - I fear that people might think that about me too! I guess all we can do to help that is to explain that we're introverted - and explain what introversion really means, too!

Laurel Rogers from Bishop, Ca on March 27, 2011:

I'm also an introvert who appears a snob to others. I am always amazed when folks think of me as someone with a 'superiority' complex.

I have few friends as a result-which is fine by me, since I am terribly private.

Great hub, Simone.

Edward Zhang from Bay Area, CA on March 27, 2011:

Hey Simone, great hub! I love your analogy to sports.

Any suggestions for an introvert who would like to become become less of an introvert?

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 27, 2011:

Thanks for reading thoughtforce - and thanks for pointing out the typo sammyfiction! I've fixed it now :D

Sammy from Australia on March 27, 2011:

I like this a lot! Im an intorvert and these explanations are very good! It DOES take up energy and mental energy to keep up with people.

In "Living with an Introvert" capsule, it says

"After all, you as an introvert, gain energy from being around other people."

Is it meant to say extrovert? I had to read that sentence twice. :) hope it helps future readers:)

Anyways, a pleasure!!! :D


Christina Lornemark from Sweden on March 27, 2011:

Very good explanation of how introverted people are. I am an introvert myself and feel totally drained after to much socializing! You have done a very informative and useful hub for both introverted and extroverted people! Voted up and Thanks! Tina

Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on March 26, 2011:

Thanks for reading Crayonmonster! Introverts, UNITE! (for short periods of time XD)

Crayonmonster from Canada on March 26, 2011:

very informative and eye opening. I have always been an introvert, but as you wrote, can also attend social gatherings for short periods of time. People think it's a paradox but it's not.


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