Monday, January 30, 2012

It's who I am

Hello. I'm Terry and I'm an introvert.

I've always known this. I am, in fact, from a family of introverts, so it wasn't any surprise, but I secretly harbored a desire, at times, to be the life of the party. Still do. These days I am feeling much more comfortable with myself. The cover story for this week's Time magazine is about introverts and specifically the good things about being an introvert.

I do have a small quibble with the magazine, which is that they equate introversion to shyness on the cover illustration. It is not the same thing and that point is actually made quite clearly in the story inside. It is really quite a good article and I can certainly identify with most of the things it says about introverts. Coincidentally, there was also a story on NPR today about introverts. They interviewed Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. She says:
 "Many people believe that introversion is about being antisocial, and that's really a misperception. Because actually it's just that introverts are differently social. So they would prefer to have a glass of wine with a close friend as opposed to going to a loud party full of strangers.
"Now, shyness, on the other hand, is about a fear of negative social judgment. So you can be introverted without having that particular fear at all, and you can be shy but also be an extrovert."

I plan to read this book. I have been following the author's blog for awhile.

I am quite content to be an introvert, but I do tire of being described as "shy." I am not shy, nor am I antisocial or fearful or reclusive. My self esteem is fine. I have no problem giving a speech or asking for what I want or need, or expressing my opinion. I do, however, have a limited tolerance for crowds and noise and lots of frenetic activity. I have no interest in or talent for "small talk." That has been a social liability. I don't understand the need to fill space with meaningless talk.

If you don't know which you are, there is an informal quiz, from the book, to tell you if you are an introvert that is posted on the NPR site. I answered "yes" to every single question. The Time article says you are born one or the other, according to studies done on infants.

Extroverts have traditionally been valued and promoted in our society, so this attention to the other side feels like a small vindication to me. The Time article lists famous introverts and extroverts. Obama is an introvert. Gingrich is an extrovert. Which one would you rather have a good conversation with over a glass of wine?


  1. Nice article...thank you Terry!

  2. I don't know who Gingrich is. but my husband is an introvert. I say he is a very wise person. When he does talk about something, it is worth listening to because he has thought it through.

    I have learned alot about being more quiet over the years.
    Sandy in the UK

  3. For me, the answer to your question is neither Obama nor Gingrich. However, I find the information you present VERY interesting and new and will look for Susan Cain's book. Thanks for the 'heads up'!

  4. Anonymous7:23 AM

    I agree ...very nice article.
    I always enjoy your blog and learn so much from them.
    Your new studio is wonderful and I enjoyed the planning/building etc. process.
    I enjoy working with fabric also so love seeing others ideas.
    thanks for your good readings.

  5. I got about 50/50 on the questionnaire. I know I tend to be more extroverted. It is interesting that my family is a mix of introverts and extroverts. I feel less extroverted, the older I get. I know many extroverts that I would enjoy having a conversation with, but not The Newt!! Not all extroverts are sociopaths!!

  6. Although many would initially disagree, I, too, am an introvert. I didn't realize that until several years ago when I realized that large social gatherings were almost painful and I was simply better off meeting and socializing one on one. I found the Time article to be almost comforting.

  7. oh so many interesting links! thank you! Introverts unite....

  8. Sherrill7:06 PM

    Introverts unite! Oh wait... I'd rather be alone.

  9. I'm just like you, Terry. It all sounded like me.

    The "shy" label growing up was definitely a detriment.

  10. I do wish someone had told me when I was a teenager that there was nothing wrong with me, I was simply an introvert. Once I figured it out it became easier to make friends and keep them. I am especially comfortable with other introverts - like you. Whereas, I tend to REALLY clam up when I am with extroverts.

  11. I went right out and bought the issue. I feel so much better about myself after reading the article. And I answered yes to all the questions...a definite innie.

  12. Holy Cow, I knew we were sisters that never met- I finally found a test I got a perfect score on- yup, I too am in Introvert! I never realized there was difference between that and 'shy', because I knew I am not shy! It explains why I get nervous if a 'field trip' turns into too many people, why I avoid crowds, why groups of women are scary! Now I will go buy the book.

  13. I answered false to 10/14/18/20. So, I am a solid introvert, I think.

    I tend to talk a lot at work about plants and things I think will help the customers, but I enjoy the large amounts of time I am by myself. I do get lonely. Do you?

    I never enjoy showing my work. I made it as an exercise for myself and it always seems, like it would, if I decided to show someone my underpants. TMI.

  14. I think it is possible to be both an Introvert and Extrovert depending on the situation....

    I work in the Information Technology customer service field and have to deal with people every day. I've been told by many people that I am an extrovert because I can pretty much converse with anyone and am not afraid to speak up...But the truth is I'm a closet introvert...I love working alone, hate crowds, getting engrossed in learning new things, and just standing and listening to other people's stories.

  15. I appreciate the explanation of the differences between being introverted and being shy. I am most definitely an introvert (answered yes to all the questions), but have little problem speaking in public or sharing my opinions when appropriate. Sometimes it seems odd to be able to socialize and yet be introverted, but I think this explains it quite well.

  16. so agree with you regarding shy and antisocial, it would be nice if more folks understood the difference...