Yes, World Introvert Day Is Real, and Here’s Why We Should Celebrate It

an introvert on World Introvert Day

World Introvert Day is here! And yes — it’s real.

Okay, so, it’s not technically an official holiday, but World Introvert Day has been celebrated every Jan. 2 by introverts across the globe since 2011, when Felicitas Heyne wrote a blog post calling for it. It’s no coincidence that this day falls right after New Year’s Day; the idea is that introverts spend time in delicious solitude (if possible), recharging their energy after the busyness of the holidays.

It’s also a day to bring awareness to what it means to be an introvert — and remember why introversion is something awesome, not shameful. So here are 12 reasons we should celebrate introverts today (and really, every day of the year).

Here’s Why We Should Celebrate Introverts

1. We really know our stuff.

Many introverts love learning and adding to their vast stores of niche knowledge. It’s no surprise they often become experts in their chosen field — professionally or just for fun. For example, I have an introverted friend who’s basically a walking encyclopedia of Celtic myth. If you ask him about, say, 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!”

2. We’re natural problem-solvers and idea-generators.

Nobody knows the power of solitude better than introverts. We’re the ones off in a corner working alone (when given the option), quietly turning ideas over in our minds. And there’s a benefit to this. When you’re with other people, your brain is forced to multitask. Even if you’re not interacting with anyone, research suggests that part of your attention is occupied simply by their presence in your space.

Yes, other people really do zap your brain power.

But when you’re alone, you can clear your mind and focus your thoughts. And all that deep, concentrated thinking can lead to out-of-the-box solutions and creative ideas. So forget the brainstorming group. As psychologist Keith Sawyer noted, “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.”

Score another one for introverts.

3. Give up? Not yet.

Speaking of problem solving, introverts generally tend to stick with problems longer than others — well past when everyone else has moved on to another idea or called it a day. Albert Einstein 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. We make better team players than extroverts over the long run.

Corinne Bendersky and her colleagues found that while extroverts make excellent 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,” she explains. “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, might work harder on a team because they don’t want to be seen as not pulling their weight.

5. Despite our quietness, we can bring incredible depth to our relationships.

Many introverts 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’d rather peer 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 never before.

6. Behold, the power of words.

In general, we “quiet ones” listen more than we talk and think before we speak. We choose our words carefully because we know that once said, they can’t be retracted or easily forgotten (if at all). Although introverts can struggle with word retrieval (especially when someone demands you spititoutrightnow), many introverts make eloquent and thoughtful writers.

7. Generally, we look before we leap.

There can be a powerful benefit to slowing down. Rather than jumping on the first idea that pops into their head, introverts tend to ponder several possibilities and examine many angles. And this can lead to widening one’s options (as opposed to getting locked into only one alternative), which ultimately leads to better decision-making, according to the authors of the book, Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

8. We can be the calm in the center of the storm.

When everyone’s losing their heads over the group’s latest drama or the company’s latest policy change, introverts are thinking of ways to adjust and coming up with a backup plan. Quietly.

9. We’re super low maintenance friends and employees.

You don’t have to entertain us constantly because we’re content doing our own thing. If you’re the manager of an introvert, you probably don’t have to hover over us, monitoring our progress. Many introverts are self-starters and independent workers. In fact, you’ll probably only hear from us if we have a problem we can’t fix ourselves (we’ve probably tried a dozen times before coming to you). Likewise, we don’t need constant praise and gold stickers. If we’re working hard, we’re motivated from within.

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10. We “get” you.

That’s because spending time alone may help you develop more empathy, especially for people outside your social group, research suggests. This is probably because being alone means you spend time reflecting. Paradoxically, solitude can actually make you more connected to others.

11. We create worlds in our head — and fantastical realms for others.

Despite our distaste for the spotlight, introverts make up a good percentage of the artists, actors, musicians, entertainers, and writers of the world. Famous creative introverts include J.K. Rowling (only someone introverted could spend years imagining the world of Hogwarts) and Lady Gaga (she’s quoted as saying, “I generally really keep to myself and I am focused on my music.”) There’s also Steven Spielberg, Dr. Seuss, Frederic Chopin, Harrison Ford, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elton John, Emma Watson, and SO. MANY. MORE.

12. Who run the world? Introverts.

Of course, extroverts can and do lead. But on this day especially, let’s not overlook the contribution of introverts. Introverts can make just as powerful leaders as extroverts — and sometimes even better ones. It’s been reported that 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, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama, and Abraham Lincoln. Introverts are the dreamers and doers who fight for a better, brighter future.

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