World Introvert Day is a time to bring awareness to introversion — and to show the world that being a “quiet one” is something awesome, not shameful.
According to Days of the Year, World Introvert Day has been celebrated across the globe every Jan. 2 since 2011. It’s no coincidence it falls immediately after New Year’s Day; the idea behind this special day is that introverts take time to recharge their energy after the busy holiday season.
It’s also a day to bring awareness to what it means to be an introvert — and to show the world that being an introvert is something awesome, not shameful. So, let’s celebrate “quiet ones” today (and really, every day of the year). As I explain in my book, The Secret Lives of Introverts, here are 12 reasons to celebrate introverts.
Why We Should Celebrate Introverts
1. Introverts really know their stuff.
I have an introverted friend who is basically a walking encyclopedia of Celtic myth. For example, if you ask him about the hero Cú Chulainn, he can not only tell you how he died, but also what kind of chariot he drove around in. Listening to him talk, I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, he really knows his stuff!”
That’s because many introverts love learning and adding to their vast stores of specialty knowledge. It’s no surprise they often become experts in their field.
2. Introverts are problem-solvers and idea-generators.
Introverts tend to gravitate toward working alone. Rather than chatting in the break room, we’re often the ones sitting at our desks, quietly turning ideas over and over in our minds. And there’s a big benefit to this. When you’re with other people, your brain is forced to multitask. Even if you’re not actually talking with someone, part of your attention is occupied just by their mere presence, research suggests.
When you’re alone, you can clear your mind and focus your thoughts. All this deep, concentrated thinking can lead to novel solutions and brilliant ideas. Working alone can even lead to more ideas. “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas,” according to psychologist Keith Sawyer.
So forget the brainstorming group. Take a cue from introverts and spend some time in solitude.
3. Give up? Not yet.
Speaking of problem solving, introverts tend to stick with problems longer — well past when everyone else has moved on to another topic or gone home for the day. Albert Einstein, the world-renowned physicist who developed the theory of relativity, was probably an introvert. He once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
4. Introverts make better team players than extroverts over the long run.
Corinne Bendersky and her colleagues found that while extroverts make great first impressions, they may disappoint us over time when they’re a part of a team. Their “value and reputation at work diminish over time,” explains Bendersky. “On a team, you’re expected to work hard and contribute a lot. But they’re often poor listeners, and they don’t collaborate.”
Introverts, on the other hand, may work harder on a team because they generally tend to be conscientious; they don’t want to be seen as not pulling their weight. So while companies may initially be attracted to extroverts, bosses should remember that introverts pack a powerful (yet understated) punch.
5. Introverts are capable of incredible depth and intimacy in their relationships.
We “quiet ones” have a penchant for quality, one-on-one time and deep conversation. Instead of talking about the weather or what you did this weekend, we want to peek into your inner world. What have you learned lately? How are your ideas evolving? How are you really? When you have an introvert in your life, you may experience emotional intimacy like you have never experienced before.
6. Introverts know the power of words.
As the nickname suggests, we “quiet ones” tend to listen more than we talk and think before we speak. We choose our words carefully because we know that once said, words can’t be retracted or easily forgotten, if at all.
7. Introverts are low maintenance.
You can leave an introvert alone for hours (or days!), and we’ll be content to do our own thing. No need to constantly text us, check on us, or “babysit” us.
Why? Because introverts tend to be self-starters, and many of us are drawn to working quietly and steadily on things (alone). In fact, you’ll probably only hear from us if we have a problem we can’t fix (believe me, we’ve tried solving it a dozen times already before coming to you). Likewise, we don’t need constant praise, gold stickers, and shoutouts in the company newsletter (although sure, those things are nice). If we’re working hard, we’re likely drawing motivation from within.
8. Introverts can be the calm in the center of the storm.
Reserved and often self-contained, introverts are known for exuding calm (even if there is a storm raging for us on the inside). We’re the ones quietly creating an action plan, for example, when everyone else is stressing over the company’s latest policy change. And in this way, our methodical way of dealing with chaos benefits everyone.
9. Introverts “get” you.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, solitude can help you connect better with other people. Why? Because spending time alone (which introverts love to do) may help us develop more empathy, especially for people outside our typical social group, research suggests. Being alone often involves reflecting on our actions, beliefs, and experiences, which can help us develop stronger empathy for others.
10. Introverts look before they leap.
Compared to extroverts, introverts generally prefer a slower, simpler pace of life, and it’s due to the way our brains are wired. Many of us hate rushing into things; whenever possible, we like to consider all potential outcomes before making a decision. This applies to our jobs as well as our personal lives and relationships.
For example, one study found that extroverts may jump into a new relationship more quickly than introverts. An Katrien Sodermans and her colleagues found that divorced extroverts were more likely than divorced introverts to quickly remarry. Although not always the case, sometimes hastily made decisions (like committing to a new relationship before you’ve fully healed from the last one) brings regret later on.
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11. Introverts create worlds inside their heads — and help create the world we live in.
Introverts are artists, actors, musicians, entertainers, and writers, among many other things. Famous creative introverts include Lady Gaga (she’s quoted as saying, “I generally really keep to myself and I am focused on my music.”), Bob Dylan, Meryl Streep, Lorde, Audrey Hepburn, and more. David Bowie is also thought to have been an introvert; experts believe he coped with his anxiety and introverted nature by developing various stage personas. Even the “King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley, was described by his friends as a “loner” and “introverted.”
There are so many famous creative introverts that it’s impossible to name them all in this article! So here are just a few more: Steven Spielberg, Shonda Rhimes, David Letterman, Harrison Ford, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elton John, Emma Watson, Tom Hanks… the list could go on and on.
12. Who runs the world? Introverts.
When we think of leadership, especially in the corporate world, we may think of adjectives like “bold,” “overconfident,” and “selfish.” But there’s a different kind of leader emerging: the quiet one. These days, about 40 percent of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates.
Gates believes that introverts can make great leaders because they know the value of being alone and focusing deeply. Speaking at an engagement in 2013, he said: “I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.”
Other introverted leaders include Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, Jill Biden, Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln — and more — as well as many of our greatest U.S. presidents.
Yes, introverts may be the quiet ones who eat lunch alone. They may also be the ones curled up at home with a good book, avoiding the party. But introverts are so much more than that. They are leaders, artists, and visionaries. They are the dreamers and the doers of this world.
Today — and every day — they deserve to be celebrated.
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