An article by Jason S. Sullivan, 08-11-19 (updated 12-01-20)
- Overview of introverts and extroverts
- Personality tests
- Energy levels
When I was in my early teens, someone said to me, “You’re such an introvert!” I don’t remember who said it to me or the context, but I was embarrassed by it. I had a misconception about introverts. I felt ashamed and insulted by their comment. Labels put us in a box, especially at that age. Of all the things kids call each other, you wouldn’t think “introvert” would be hurtful. But at the time, it was. I felt dejected – “Oh, I guess I’m just an introvert.”
Fast forward to today, and I realize that, yes, I am an introvert. The difference is that now I understand what an introvert is, why I do certain things, and how to better thrive in a world of extroverts.
By the way, I don’t remember learning much about introverts and extroverts in school. That’s a shame. The knowledge would have helped me growing up and starting my career. Maybe this article will make up for it.
Let’s start with an overview of introverts and extroverts.
Overview of introverts and extroverts
There is often an “us” versus “them” mentality, especially when it comes to introverts and extroverts.
Carl Jung, the noted psychologist, theorized that introversion and extroversion are the two main personality types. Most people strongly identify with one of these. You’re likely to have characteristics of both, though, depending on the situation.
Introverts prefer their world of thoughts. They often prefer to spend time alone. Interaction with others drains their energy while being alone recharges their energy.
Extroverts prefer interaction outside of themselves. They need time with other people. Their energy comes from being around others.
Of course, there is more to it than how you prefer to spend your time. Where and how you get your energy, though, is at the foundation of your personality type.
I’m an INTJ. If you don’t know what that means, this is the best place for you to start.
INTJ is my personality type.
There are many personality tests out there. Let’s focus on the ones based on the personality type theories of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers.
Both websites offer a free personality test and helpful resources for your personality type. I took the test and was surprised by the accuracy.
Once you take a personality test, you’ll get a score of four letters. There are 16 different possible combinations of letters — eight introverted and eight extroverted. The letters represent your personality type and show whether you identify more as an introvert or an extrovert. Knowing your personality type is like knowing your blood type or credit score: you need to know it.
There’s a misconception, almost a negative stereotype, about introverts. We’re said to be shy, quiet, antisocial, reclusive, or distant. Some of those characteristics may be true, but there doesn’t have to be a negative connotation.
Introverts often are not as shy or reclusive as people might think.
Take me, for example. I like going to concerts, sporting events, and large festivals. I don’t mind standing in front of a small group of people and giving a quick presentation or leading a meeting. I enjoy some things that aren’t typical for introverts – and many other introverts do, too.
Afterward, I need some alone time to recharge. Doing something outside of my comfort zone uses up a lot of my energy—the bigger the activity, the more energy it uses.
Not everyone has the same amount of energy throughout the day. It’s more than a “morning person” versus “night person.” Every person is different. Energy comes in cycles throughout the day. Recharge energy levels when they get low and as often as needed.
I recently made the connection with “recharge your batteries” in the context of being an introvert. I used to feel tired and drained for most of the day. I didn’t realize, or allow myself, to take much of a break to be alone. Then, I learned that introverts need to recharge their batteries with some alone time. Everyone needs time for themselves, but especially introverts.
In a world of 7 billion people, it might seem impossible to find time to yourself and recharge. It isn’t as challenging as you might think. They make these things called headphones. They’re the universal sign of “leave me alone” — although some people don’t always get the hint.
Being alone isn’t the only way for an introvert to recharge. Spending time with other people, especially other introverts, can help you recharge. Coffee or dinner, one on one with a close friend in a quiet place, can be a great way to connect with them and recharge both of your batteries.
Some of the ways I recharge are listening to music, writing, playing chess, watching a documentary, taking a walk, or having a meaningful cup of coffee or hot tea.
The typical office environment isn’t ideal for introverts – phones, meetings, presentations, group projects. Yikes. It can be more challenging for introverts to thrive at work and in their career.
Some careers and industries are better suited for introverts. I wish I would have known that years ago. It certainly helps for introverts to be in the right career. Many introverts find themselves in the wrong career or a job they despise, often because it’s a better fit for extroverts.
Take time and research careers for introverts. You may find a new career path that you wouldn’t have considered in the past. It’s never too late to make a career change.
If you thought we could get through this article without mentioning networking, I’ve got some bad news. Networking is essential for career growth. And yes, it can be downright intimidating for introverts to network.
Networking online: LinkedIn is one of the largest networking sites out there. It’s changed the way people network. It can be a great place for introverts to showcase their skills and qualifications.
Networking in person: try going in with a friend, maybe one who is an extrovert. Ask for their help ahead of time and prepare a script. Your friend can be like, “Hey, this is Jason. He’s a writer. He just wrote an article about introverts that I think might like.” Getting past the awkward introduction can make it easier for you to take over and control the conversation.
Focus on cultivating meaningful relationships with a few close friends. Don’t feel like you need to have a full social calendar.
There’s a difference between preferring to be alone and never leaving the house. It’s essential to have balance. Even if you choose to be alone, it’s healthy to get out into the world. There’s nothing wrong with doing things yourself – restaurants, movies, museums, vacations, or anything else. Regardless of the activity, the more you do it, the less awkward it gets.
Everyone needs a hobby or two. Hobbies can be a way to learn something new, pursue a passion, or find fulfillment and balance in your life.
Hobbies can be valuable for introverts.
- Get creative – write, draw, paint, take up photography
- Learn something – rediscover the fun of reading, learn to cook or play an instrument, learn a foreign language or a new skill
- Do something – listen to music or a podcast, travel, visit museums, start a collection, volunteer
- Try single-person sports or activities – yoga, meditation, walking, jogging, fishing, golf, swimming, gardening, biking, hiking
There’s something out there for everyone.
Hobbies should do more than take up time and space. They should also be rewarding and enriching.
I recently discovered how much hobbies could have a positive impact on my life. If you don’t have any hobbies, find one!
Need some ideas for a new hobby? Check out 75+ Hobby Ideas For Men. Don’t let the title fool you. There are plenty of hobbies on this list that women would enjoy, too.
As introverts, we’re a unique species. If you’re an introvert, take pride in that. Know that there are billions of other introverts out there who can help offer a support system.
Don’t feel like you have to become an extrovert to be more liked or successful. Genuineness is an attractive trait.
My tips for introverts –
- Take the time to learn your personality score and what it means.
- Know yourself. Don’t try to be something you’re not.
- Carve out time to recharge your batteries. If you need a minute, take a minute, and don’t apologize for it.
- Find ways of using introversion as an advantage – in both your personal life and your career.
Go forth, fellow introverts! Do what you do and be yourself! Wear your Introvert Badge with pride!
Check out these resources that may help you on your way:
- Introvertdear.com – great resources for introverts
- 16 Personalities.com – personality test and resources
- Humanmetrics.com – personality test and resources
- Carl Jung Personality Theory – article
- The 9 Best Jobs for Introverts – article
- 75+ Hobby Ideas For Men – article