Introverts have a unique opportunity that we may never have again.
We’re living in uncertain and even scary times right now. Many of us are stuck in our own homes, unable to go out and do the things we’re so used to doing.
People are dying and hospitals in some countries are overwhelmed. Though it’s hard to see the benefits of such a terrible situation, introverts at least have an advantage. Since we’re wired to handle being by ourselves, we’re much better able to handle forced social isolation. The world is turning to us to learn how to best handle this crisis.
In my state, before we were ordered to stay home, a coworker was telling me how her extroverted son is going crazy right now because he can’t go out and do anything. I replied, “That’s not a problem I would have.” It was unintentional, but it came across as bragging.
In truth, introversion is an advantage right now. When this crisis is over — and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later — the world will likely go back to valuing extroversion over introversion, praising the “people person” who loves being the life of the party or can easily work with others.
Of course, the health and safety of everyone is our highest priority right now. Yet introverts have a unique opportunity that we may never have again: We can show the world not only how to be an introvert, but that introversion is a great thing — not just during times of crisis, but all the time. Here are five things I believe we as introverts should be showing everyone.
5 Things Introverts Can Teach the World Right Now
1. Spending time alone helps you grow as a person.
I have a family I’m quarantined with at home right now, and as always, I’m making sure I interact with them and spend time with them. Yet I’m also spending a lot of time by myself, as I always do, and as I need to do as an extreme introvert.
I’m watching educational documentaries. I’m writing more. I’m trying to read more. It’s through these activities that I’m learning about myself and the world around me. I’m expanding my brain and gaining more knowledge so that, when things get back to normal, I’ll (hopefully) be a smarter person because of it.
I do this as much as I can anyway, though with a full-time job and a family, it’s hard to find enough time to do this to satisfy my craving for knowledge. Now, I have more time, and I’m loving it. I feel that it’s best not to waste this time and to see it as an opportunity to better myself. I hope other people will view this situation the same way.
2. Spending time on yourself prepares you to face the world.
As we know, extroverts gain energy from being around other people, while introverts gain energy from being away from others. Because we live in a society that values being social, the most extroverted of us — and even those who are introverted — sometimes miss the value of spending time alone.
I know that when I’m about to face a big social situation, or when I have just done so, I need alone time to regroup and “heal” myself. I feel this is something that everyone can benefit from. It is when we are alone that our minds wander and our imagination grows. We take a step back from our busy lives and repair our bodies and minds. Everyone needs this, not just introverts.
3. You must learn to function by yourself so you don’t use others as a crutch.
I tried to think of a less harsh way to phrase that, but after a little time, I decided that it fit what I was trying to say. We live in a society where we rely on other people for so much: for employment, for social interaction, and for love, just to name a few. Yet the ability to be independent is important as well.
I’ve been talking about being able to occupy yourself during downtime, which is important enough. Yet the ability to just function as a human being in general, without relying on the emotional support of other people, is a critical life skill. This can apply to work, personal relationships, or anything else. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of social interaction, as we all need that, even us introverts. Yet the ability to sustain yourself, on your own, is key.
4. You must master other forms of communication.
As we socially distance ourselves, interacting with others in ways that are not face to face are more important than ever, and will continue to grow in importance. I can’t speak for all introverts, but I prefer writing to face-to-face communication, for example, emails and text messages. I’m better able to articulate my thoughts that way.
Many of us are stuck working from home, so here’s an opportunity to get better at emailing, posting on social media, or doing video chats. We can come out of this crisis, hopefully, mastering these introvert-friendly forms of communication — and maybe more meetings really will become emails.
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5. You must be able to see what your life is like without any social interaction.
I’ve been discussing the benefits of alone time. Yet I feel as introverts, sometimes we get so carried away with talking about how important this is that we forget how important connections with other people are. Despite our innate desire to be by ourselves, interaction with other people is vital to keep our society going. Whether we’re at work, at the grocery store, at social events, or doing just about anything else, without human interaction, our society would crumble.
Yet this doesn’t just apply from a practical standpoint. From an emotional standpoint, despite the fact that I usually prefer alone time, I still need interaction with my wife, family, and coworkers to keep my spirits up. I just don’t need as much of it as other people. In the situation we’re facing right now, we all have an opportunity to see what our lives are like without one another — and overall, I don’t think that’s a world we want to live in.
So, to all my fellow introverts: Do not spend this time idly! Use this as an opportunity both to better yourself and to show the world there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.
In fact, the qualities of introversion are critical. It’s unfortunate that we have to face a world pandemic in order to realize this, yet humanity should try to learn from every difficult situation it faces.
Let’s help the world learn about introversion during this one.