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What is an Introvert, Really?

Updated: May 2

What is an Introvert Really?

When I typed, “What is an Introvert?” into Google, I got this definition: "in·tro·vert, noun: a shy, reticent person". Don't tell anyone but then I had to look up the word, reticent. It means "not revealing one's thoughts or feelings readily." Urban Dictionary says, “An introvert enjoys time alone without unwanted distractions and stimulation in order to recharge their inner strength.”

I asked Word Hippo for another way to say introvert and got, “One who prefers their own company, as opposed to the company of others, loner, recluse, hermit, solitary, homebody, self-observer, lone ranger, misanthrope, eremite, lone wolf, outsider, ascetic, etc...” All these synonyms paint a dismal picture that “introvert” is a label for individuals who shun society, are afraid of crowds, have no emotions, and always see the worst.

So, what is an introvert, really?

Do introverts prefer to be alone? Perhaps, but they don’t hate people. They would rather socialize with those they recognize and trust.

Are introverts quiet and reserved? Perhaps, but only because they think before they speak and tend to control their emotions.

Is it hard for introverts to “fit-in”? Perhaps, but plenty of other women and men also struggle with the same fears and anxieties.

There are countless articles and viewpoints on-line relating to introverts; how they are misread, signs to tell if you are an introvert, what do introverts like?, do introverts fall in love?, who are famous introverts?, do introverts avoid eye contact?, there are quizzes you can take, and so on... As more mainstream conversations get started, the question of introversion is no longer an abstract topic about a misunderstood personality trait, but trend-setting social media buzz.

According to an article in The Cut, psychologist Jonathan Cheek noticed that many introverts defined themselves differently from the way he and his academic colleagues did, and the more self-described introverts they interviewed, the less correct a one-size-fits-all definition seemed. Introverts, like extraverts, exist on a spectrum. Cheek and his team have taken the broad view we are all familiar with and broken it into four characteristics that represent a mix of most introverted personalities.

Social Introverts go for solitude or small groups, but without the anxiety that would define them as shy.

Thinking Introverts are introspective, thoughtful, and self-reflective in an imaginative and creative way.

Anxious Introverts have a tendency to project and worry about things that might have gone wrong in the past, or that may go wrong in the future.

Reserved Introverts reflect before they talk or act. They also move slowly and need time to get going.

I think it’s great that all this chatter will dispel some myths about introverted or highly sensitive people. It will also shine some light on other types of personalities, creating awareness for individuals of their own nuances, and encouraging them to be more accepting of those who are different.

Never underestimate an introvert. They might seem quiet and distant, but they have the power of insight that can change the world in the most amazing ways!!!

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