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?