A Simple Introvert Definition - Let's Dispel the Myths!
When I tell folks that I'm an introvert, many look me straight in the eye and say "No, you're not!"
I get this response because I don't (usually) appear to be shy, reserved, quiet, or reclusive, and most people assume that these are the defining characteristics of an introvert. Over the years, I've found that introverts have a pretty bad reputation for being anti-social wallflowers with poor interpersonal skills. This is absolutely not the case!
While some introverted people express these characteristics, they are by no means inherent in all introverted people. Being an introvert involves something different entirely, so let me give you a very simple introvert definition so we can break through the old stereotypes and do something more useful with our imaginations.
How do you feel after socializing?
An Easy Introvert Definition
For introverts, socializing is like swimming (or any other sport or activity you enjoy). One can swim all day and have a grand ol' time, but after a while, they need to get out of the water or else they'll drown from exhaustion.
Simply put, social activities drain energy from introverts. Extraverts, on the other hand, gain energy from socializing. For extraverts, socializing is less like swimming and more like drinking water or breathing air- leave them isolated for long enough and they'll start to wilt.
Introverted people may love to be around people, and many do. They simply can't be around people for an indefinite amount of time. After a while, they need to be alone to recharge their batteries.
Every introverted person is different. Some introverts need to spend a lot of time alone after just one hour around a bunch of people. Other introverts can be social for a week, but then need a couple days of alone time to feel refreshed. For me, I need to spend an hour of (non-sleeping) time alone for every hour that I spend with other people.
Are you an introvert?
Do social activities give you energy or take it away?
Respect Your Introverted Buddies!
Many cultures emphasize extraversion, which can make being an introvert particularly hard. Many people take it personally when a friend chooses to spend an evening alone instead of hanging out with them, and that's perfectly fair. That said, such misunderstandings are entirely unnecessary.
It is my hope that more people realize that some folks just need some alone time for rest. The periodic need to be alone is not a symptom of some inherent hatred of other people, it is simply a sign of introversion.
Some introverts do hate people and are awkward and asocial, but many actually love socializing and are just as outgoing and friendly as the most gregarious of extraverts. These characteristics are independent of the introvert-extravert personality trait, so let's keep them separate.
If you yourself are an introvert, perhaps you can use the swimming (or some other sports) analogy to better explain to friends, colleagues, and family why you need to be alone sometimes. This definition has helped me a lot, and I hope it is just as useful for you!