In the extraverted world we live in, introverts are oftentimes considered “weird.” In extreme cases, they may have been considered “outcasts.” Many labels are placed upon these quiet and deep-thinking individuals, yet the world needs them to balance out the louder and more outspoken type of individuals, known as “extraverts.”
How many introverts are out there? Many studies have resulted differently: 25 percent, 50 percent, or even 57 percent of the world population are introverts. No one knows for sure how many they actually are in general population, but among gifted individuals, introverts are the majority. Of course, not all introverts are gifted.
If you think all introverts are shy, well think again. Introversion has nothing to do with being shy or shyness. The latter is about being awkward, uncomfortable, and doesn’t like being around people. Many introverts are comfortable around many people. The main difference between an introvert and an extravert is the source of their energy.
Introverts find alone-time charging and refreshing, while being around people mentally draining. Extraverts, on the other hand, feel the most alive and energized being around people. When extraverts are alone, they feel fading away and bored.
This explains why many scientists, artists, and writers are introverts. People in these professions enjoy being alone to explore ideas and discover newness in those ideas to bring forth to the world. And since their professions are likely to be high profile, it is not uncommon finding introverted famous individuals. However, many entertainers and communicators are introverted as well, such as Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep, Helen Hunt, Client Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Steve Martin, Al Gore, Barbara Walters, Dianne Sawyer, and David Letterman. Thus, it is just a myth that introverts cannot hold jobs involving communicating with the public.
According to Dr. Marti Laney, the author of The Introvert Advantage, introverts are likely to: enjoy time alone, consider only deep relationships as friends, feel drained after outside activities even when they were fun, good listeners, appear calm and self-contained, and think first before speak or act. Extraverts, on the contrary are likely to: enjoy being at the center of attention, know many people, consider many people friends, enjoy chit-chatting and small talks, energized after speaking or acting, and tend to act or speak first before thinking.
Dr. Laney also described an introvert’s strengths: work well with others (particularly in one-to-one relationships), maintain long-term friendships, flexible, independent, has strong concentration, self-reflective, responsible, creative, analytical, studious, and smart. Those who consider an introverted individual with these following traits are likely have not properly understood an introvert’s strengths. Here are common misconceptions about introverts: unfriendly, nerds, lacking social skills, won’t talk to people, don’t like people, withdrawn, loner, and hermit.
In conclusion, there are no limitations on what an introverted person can do. In fact, an introvert has certain strengths that many extraverted people find quite difficult to match. The only major difference between an introvert and an extravert is that an introvert’s source of energy is within themselves. And being an introvert is definitely not a character flaw.
Laney, Marti O. (2002). The Introvert Advantage. New York, NY: Workman Publishing.