Caring for Your Introvert

Of course, as anyone who knows me even the slightest could attest, I am an introvert. Very happy to be one, thank you very much. I can usually “turn on” my gregarious persona when needed, but am quite happy avoiding large groups of people most of the time.

One of these Things is Not Like the Other

Anyway, Jonathan Rauch of The Atlantic wrote:

What is introversion? In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic, though some of us do go along with Sartre as far as to say “Hell is other people at breakfast.” Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”

How many people are introverts? I performed exhaustive research on this question, in the form of a quick Google search. The answer: About 25 percent. Or: Just under half. Or—my favorite—”a minority in the regular population but a majority in the gifted population.”

Are introverts misunderstood? Wildly. That, it appears, is our lot in life. “It is very difficult for an extrovert to understand an introvert,” write the education experts Jill D. Burruss and Lisa Kaenzig.

[Click to continue reading Caring for Your Introvert – The Atlantic (March 2003) ]

Via Kottke‘s discussion of introverted travelers.

On that topic: I love traveling, love seeing new things, but have never felt the urge to befriend strangers on the street. Possibly why I love to photograph my world – a camera places a filter between me and the crowd. Even when I don’t have a camera in my hands, I’ve trained myself to scan the environment, looking for quirky details.

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