If you ever needed an excuse to stay home and do nothing, today you have it. Today is World Introvert Day (Jan. 2), and this “holiday” is all about relaxing and recovering from the exhausting social activities of the previous month.
Although not an official holiday, World Introvert Day has been enthusiastically celebrated by introverts since 2011. It began when psychologist Felicitas Heyne wrote this post calling for a day to raise awareness about introversion, because introverts tend to feel marginalized and overlooked in a society that seems geared for extroverts.
Introversion has gotten a lot of positive attention lately, but many introverts still feel misunderstood. Here are 14 things we still wish people understood about us:
1. Just because we’re not talking doesn’t mean we’re upset or depressed. Introverts tend to be thinkers rather than talkers. We don’t enjoy making small talk and we prefer to speak only when we really have something to say. If we go quiet on you, don’t take it personally.
2. We like people. Many of us have active social lives. When we’re in our element — and with people we know well — we may even be mistaken for extroverts. However, we get mentally drained (and sometimes even physically tired) from socializing, whereas extroverts feel energized by it. After hanging out, we need a few hours (or days) of downtime to recover.
What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test from our partner Personality Hacker.
3. Sometimes we need to separate ourselves from others. We could spend hours (or days) alone and not get bored, because being alone means we get to do what introverts do best — tune in to our inner world. Finally we can relax and do things our way. We’re under no obligation to others and we can stop worrying about what they think and if they’re judging us. Alone time lets us concentrate on our projects and solo hobbies (like reading, writing, art, home improvement, gaming, etc.) without interruptions. We can hear our own inner voice and pay attention to our own feelings — not someone else’s. Being alone is freedom.
4. It’s easier to write our thoughts than explain them out loud. Writing allows us to edit our words and express exactly what we mean, whereas coming up with the right words on the spot in a conversation can be hard. Think texting instead of a phone call, and journaling instead of explaining. There’s a scientific explanation for this: introverts rely more on long-term memory than short-term memory (whereas extroverts use short-term memory more), and it takes longer to retrieve the specific words we want from long-term memory. If we “umm” and “ahh” and pause between our words, don’t let this diminish what we say.
5. We’d rather have a few close relationships than a lot of shallow ones. It’s about quality over quantity. If we’re going to invest in a relationship, we want it to be good, because we have limited “social” energy.
6. We might be awkward at making small talk. Talking about the weather or our weekend plans doesn’t interest us, so we avoid small talk whenever possible (although savvy introverts recognize the utility of small talk and know they can use it as a gateway to more interesting conversation). We’d rather talk about ideas or deeper topics: what’s something you’ve learned lately? What are your hopes, dreams, and fears?
7. It makes us feel self-conscious when you point out how quiet we are. We already know we’re quiet, so you bringing it up is just another painful reminder of how we’ve tried our whole lives and often failed to be more social and fit in. Rather than telling us we’re quiet, ask us questions to draw us out. Introverts crave connections with others but we may need help starting conversations. Above all, accept our reserved nature as part of who we are.
8. We work best alone. Forget group projects. We’d rather work on our own in a quiet environment with few interruptions. Interestingly, research suggests that whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, simply being around another person sucks up a certain amount of the brain’s attention, making some tasks harder. To introverts, this comes as no surprise.
9. It takes us a while to feel comfortable around new people. We’ve been accused of being aloof or snobbish when meeting new people but this couldn’t be further from the truth. We simply open up slowly. When we’re comfortable with you, our real personality comes out.
10. Parties and other social events can be sensory overload. The noise and activity level can be too much, especially for highly sensitive introverts, who are more easily stressed out by busy environments and intense stimuli. For shy or socially anxious introverts, just meeting new people and making small talk can be nerve-wracking. If we skip the party or leave early, don’t take it personally.
11. Too much attention overwhelms us. Even positive attention — like when our friends sing happy birthday to us in a crowded restaurant — can be too much. We’ll put on a brave face, but inside we might be cringing.
12. We dislike talking about ourselves. We tend to be private. We don’t like sharing personal details with other people until we trust them. We’ll talk about ourselves if we have to, but we might be uncomfortable while doing it.
13. We think. A lot. We have rich inner worlds and vivid imaginations, which fuel our creativity, passion, and ability to solve problems in unique ways: think J. K. Rowling, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rosa Parks, and Mahatma Gandhi, all famous introverts. The downside is, we may get stuck in our heads, overanalyzing and replaying events (both positive and negative) over and over in our minds.
14. We express our feelings sparingly. We may not gush with flowery words of love, and many introverts feel embarrassed by public displays of affection. We’d rather show that we care through our actions. Know that if you’re in our life, you matter to us. We don’t let just anyone in.
Not all introverts are the same, so not all these points will apply to every introvert. Which numbers are true for you? Let me know in the comments below or chat with me on the community forum.
Read this: 10 signs you’re an outgoing introvert
Intuitives see the world differently. They aren’t interested in the mundane or day-to-day. They ask, “What if?” They want to create, heal, inspire, or invent. They want to change the world. Only one in four people are intuitive. Are you one of them? Learn more about our partner Personality Hacker’s course just for intuitives.