Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Talk About It Tuesday ~ Are You An Introvert?

We've all seen them. Those kids in school who sat off to the side, away from 'the popular table', maybe reading or writing. They may even have a couple of other people sitting around them, but they don't usually seem to have a lot to say and they are extremely selective of who they consider 'friends'. They don't put their hands up in class, even when they seem to know the answers. You don't often see them in busy social settings or experiences that would have them in the spotlight or the center of attention. Even when they're included in that popular table or join in on a social event, they seem uncomfortable or are one of the first ones to leave or separate themselves from the crowd. They always seem deep in thought, but don't often share their opinions or views unless they're in more of a one-on-one situation and are directly asked. They seem easier to get a hold of using methods like emailing, texting or letters than they are at meeting up or calling. They'd rather stay home most days doing quieter activities than to be out and about. They don't like going shopping (unless it's for something needed), they seem to take forever to make a decision, they fiercely guard their privacy and they can't stand small-talk.

Sound familiar? If so, you probably know, or are yourself, an introvert.

It really is not a bad thing, and people who are introverts are often very misunderstood. They are often labelled as shy, quiet, reserved, aloof or even snobby because they'd really rather just be alone and do their own thing more often than they would choose to go out. It's not to say that they don't enjoy attending social events or interacting with others. They just don't get the same...stimulation as extroverts, who crave the opposite (eg: attention, sharing opinions, being a 'social butterfly', having a lot of friends/acquaintances, etc.).

Introversion is not a disorder, it's a personality characteristic. Yes, there is research out there showing that being an introvert or an extrovert is greatly influenced by brain chemistry, particularly the presence of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Without going into a deep lesson on the functions of the brain and brain chemistry (click the link above to learn more about it), dopamine is the 'feel good' hormone and a stimulant to a certain degree. People who are introverts already run on a high level of dopamine, which means they don't really seek out or need a lot of stimulation in order to feel content and happy. An extrovert, on the other hand, has a lower level of dopamine which explains why they seem to have a strong need for attention, to be heard, to be right in those busy settings and extremely socially driven. Introverts can take or leave that sort of stimulation, whereas extroverts actively seek it out. It may also explain why after busy events, an introvert needs time to come down, be alone and regroup.

Of course, there is a big difference between an introvert and having social anxieties. Those who are introverts choose to do things the way they do and are comfortable with it. They don't actively avoid people or situations, they simply prefer to keep it low key. A person who lives with some sort of social anxiety, avoiding the same social situations that an introvert might, does so more out of fear of the stimulation and interaction rather than making the conscious decision (as introverts do) to say, "That's not for me. Maybe another time."

So, there you go.

I'll leave you with one last thought. Introverts don't 'need help'. They're very happy with themselves and who they are. They are that one friend you can turn to when you don't feel there is anyone else, because they listen, observe and are careful with their opinions. They are the best relationship you'll ever get into because they really just want simplicity in their lives and draw happiness from the little things most others either don't notice or take for granted. They are loyal, thoughtful, caring and truly concerned about how each person involved in a decision they make will be impacted so they see a situation from all sides, not just their own.

They offer a powerful contribution to our very crazy-busy world, in a quieter, calmer way.

Are you an introvert?

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