I’m proud of every introvert who talks about introversion. Every person who shares introvert memes on Facebook or Twitter. Some people say that we are more than where we fall on the introversion/extroversion spectrum, and while they have a point, I say it’s also important to know about ourselves. For introverts, talking and thinking about introversion, even if outsiders see it as posting just another silly meme, can help us discover our authentic selves.
But what is introversion anyway? Introversion was first popularized by psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1921 in his book Psychological Types. Jung believed that extraverts are oriented towards the outer world and introverts are orientated toward the inner world. About 45 years later Hans Eysenck theorized that introverts and extroverts have different base levels of excitation. Introverts have a high base level, which means they need very little stimulation before they get overstimulated. Extroverts have a low base level, so they often seek out more stimulating activities.
So what’s the definition most people are using today? Well, that depends on who you ask. Most people who write extensively about introversion define an introvert as someone who needs time alone to recharge. Scientists on the other hand don’t appear to be in agreement about what it means. A recent article, Will the Real Introverts Please Stand Up?, suggests that the difference between the two temperaments is that extroverts have more of a “desire for positive social attention.”
And then of course there’s the other definition of introversion: “not extroversion.” In other words “not the default temperament.” On Twitter I see so many people tweet “I’m an introvert masquerading as an extrovert.” This is so sad. While it’s one thing to occasionally tap into your “extroverted self” it’s a whole other thing to act against type. We need more introvert crusaders, people who talk about introversion and who can take advantage of their innate strengths and not be embarrassed by their weaknesses.
If the word introvert speaks to you and helps you to be your authentic self then use it. Learn more about it (there are tons of books out there, like Quiet and Introvert Advantage). Learn what it’s not (shy or antisocial).
There are still so many people out there who think they are weird because they need some time alone to recharge. If the word introversion speaks to you please keep creating and posting those memes. Keep putting your introverted self out there and help others realize that they’re not alone.