I rather enjoy being an introvert. I find it very entertaining, which might seem like the opposite of the introverted life to someone who is not an introvert. But I think introverts as a species are greatly misunderstood… probably because we don’t speak up, but that’s exactly the point.
The difference between introverts and extroverts is as simple as the words themselves. The introvert deals with things internally, and the extrovert deals with things externally. Speaking isn’t one of the five senses, but if it were, one might say it isn’t the strength of the introvert. But where one sense is less than optimal, others are enhanced. The perks of being an introvert just so happen to be related to three of our senses.
The mind of the introvert doesn’t stop. It’s always moving along some train of thought and can switch tracks multiple times before realizing the direction has changed. It’s a whirlwind of stories, ideas, conversations, possibilities – all fantasies. Maybe the root of the idea is real, but most of the thoughts are just romanticizing reality.
It’s a lot of fun, and it keeps us very busy. And that is one of the perks of being an introvert. We are rarely bored. We entertain ourselves with our own thoughts. Often misinterpreted as patience, we remain content in some pretty uncomfortable or tedious situations because we simply escape to the worlds we create in our minds.
To the outside world, it might appear as though we are either deep in thought or completely aloof, but it’s just because we are in another world. And though we seek our creative content internally, we do like brainstorming sessions or a smaller group of maybe one or two other people to bounce ideas off of when working on a project. We listen and build on the ideas in our minds before saying it out loud. We want to understand what we are thinking before sharing it with anyone else.
Introverts do this thing called listening. Not everyone has this power because it’s not always easy. You see, anyone can hear what is said, but listening goes beyond just the words that are said. It is putting or keeping the words in context. Listening is hearing to understand.
It is easier for introverts to listen because that’s how we are built – less speaking and more listening – because we feel like if we really listen, then when we do speak, our words will be honest and worthy of being heard.
So when introverts are quiet, that doesn’t always mean we’re building castles, fighting wars, or working through conversations. Sometimes, we are just noticing the things around us. We notice other people. We are people watchers. We watch them because we want to understand them.
I’ll say introverts aren’t big on trusting other people, but maybe that’s more of a human condition now than just a certain group. We have watched a lot of people, so we look for patterns, not just a single person’s patterns, but their patterns as compared to other people’s patterns. We notice mannerisms. We look for inconsistencies. We watch the eyes and the corners of your mouth. We see the smallest reactions, and we store all this information. Then we put this information together with what we learned by listening, and we become pretty good at reading people and situations.
We notice small changes in tone and action. We know when something has changed and then make the decision whether we deal with the change internally or if we verbalize it. The answer to that usually depends on how the change affects us and if we want to deal with it or pretend like it didn’t happen. We’ll probably think about it for a bit before we decide.
Connecting the Pieces
So we create and we listen and we watch because we want to understand. We want to understand others, and we want to understand ourselves, so we pay attention to our surroundings because that is how we learn. Everything and everyone is a puzzle to us, and we want to understand how it all fits together in the world and in our lives.
Like I said, it’s a lot of fun being an introvert. Do I ever wish I was an extrovert? Sometimes I think it would be nice if I were better at small talk. It might make certain situations go a little smoother, but that’s not really who I am. If we’re going to spend time talking, let’s talk about the things that excite us or strangle us. Let’s talk about our journey that led us to where we are and our hopes for the journey ahead. Let’s talk so that when we leave each other, we ponder what was said and we feel understood.