Introverts and Energy

“[I]ntroverts are people who find other people tiring” ~ Jonathan Rauch

Lone Hiker, photo by Ben Johnson
Lone Hiker, photo by Ben Johnson

A StumbleUpon suggestion this morning led to me to a very good list of Top Ten Myths About Introverts, my favorite being this:

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Last year, I wrote about how I’d just returned from a wonderfully intense lunch with a writing buddy. For a few years now, we have met once a month to talk about our current projects, to exchange works in progress for feedback, and, most important, to be each other’s cheerleader.

I love her company tremendously. We fill each other with new ideas—our conversation is peppered with “Oh! I’ll email you that link when I get home.” She always comes prepared with a little notebook to keep track of ideas she wants to remember or follow up on, inspiring me to do the same.

I look forward to each and every meeting, not only because she is a writing soul mate, but because we agree on small details of where and how we meet: A table away from the sun, please, certainly not outside. The restaurant that day was particularly noisy, and I could feel each of us strain to maintain our usual level of focus.

As much as I treasure these visits, I come home exhausted, and I’ll bet she does, too.

We are both introverted and highly sensitive (not the same things). Neither one of us is very shy.

Many people mistakenly equate introversion with shyness, so I was happy when a friend alerted me to an article on Douglas Eby’s Talent Development website: Shyness, Introversion, Sensitivity – What’s the Difference?

In addition to discussing the differences between being introverted, shy, highly sensitive, and socially anxious, the article offers numerous links to more information and touches on different types of introversion and how to tell the difference between introversion and extroversion.

Why does this matter? Because knowing oneself–what bring us energy or drains us, what environments are most conducive to working and thinking and writing, that we are okay as we are and don’t need to waste time thinking otherwise–frees valuable mental space and inspires confidence.

Are you introverted? Or introverted and extroverted (a combination common in highly creative people)? How does it affect your writing?

9 thoughts on “Introverts and Energy

  1. So introverted! But also extroverted in some certain circumstances! And I can so relate to this! However, I often actually do not like to go out in public as much as some extroverts I know — especially if it’s a big crowd type place. I know it’s just a set up for a miserable experience! Great post!

  2. I’m definitely an introvert. My alone time reflecting and writing and just being in my own head recharges me, social interaction drains me. That’s the part I think people don’t always get about introversion/extraversion. It isn’t about what you like, but about what feeds you. Introverts might like social interaction and being with people, but it leaves us exhausted, kind of like eating too much of some really good food makes you over-full. Extraverts might like solitary habits like reading, writing, etc, but eventually their engines run dry if they don’t get out and about, chat and be with people. They solve problems by talking and brainstorming. I solve them by listening to what everyone has to say, then going off by myself to think them through : ).

  3. Thank you for bringing up this discussion and these links. Introvert, definitely! But also like socializing, just not all the time. The re-charging by being alone is spot on in my book. Though I want to point out the difference between “going outside” (mentioned in an article) and what I would call “going out in public” (as is mentioned and distinguished from “public” by the top ten blogger). They are two different things, or at least are by my definitions: “outside” is the out doors or nature, where there are few people, if any – this is actually very grounding and recharging; and “out in public,” it is a place where people will see you and you encounter many brief relationships (nodding at passers-by, talking to the cashier or bus driver, or being asked for the time etc.), the outside of a house in a city – it is not recharging for introverts, it takes energy.
    Very helpful information on the sites you’ve listed. And important discussions that help me feel less strange and less alone. Sounds like there’s plenty of people that feel the way I do: thanks Julia and hawleywood40.

  4. I suppose I’m a bit of both. I do need to brainstorm with people i trust after I have thought things through by myself in order to solve a problem. I need socialization, but I do get overwhelmed with too many people, as i’m shy about striking up a conversation with someone new. I equally love going out and staying in. Since remarrying last year and moving to a tiny little town where my husband resided, I have found staying in with my best friend okay. But I need to travel the two hours to my hometown to visit with friends and family every couple of weeks. So I guess that all makes me an intro-extro-vert?

  5. I would have to say that I am a little of both. More introverted, but can be quite extroverted at times. When I am very social, I enjoy myself, but feel drained and need my alone time. I try to find a good balance of the two.

    Enjoyed this, thanks for sharing.

  6. Very engaging post! Great subject that needs clarification. Which are we? The possibility of being both blows me away!

    I have always thought of myself as an introvert. Yet, I am drawn to people, which seems out of line with introversion. I am shy, also, which slows me down in social environments that include more than one other person. Whatever I am, shyness cannot hold me back entirely. I like people. All kinds. I cannot identify with all people or make close friendships with all, but my mind operates out of a desire to understand what makes us all so different and yet so alike.

    I enjoyed your post. I read the link on Douglas Eby’s website. Thank you for doing the research. Blessings to you…

  7. I enjoyed this post, especially the list you mentioned of Top 10 Myths: it’s been very informative!

    I would definitely say that I’m an introvert: I am comfortable being by myself and I get very exhausted after being in social situations. When I’m stressed I tend to even avoid them to recharge. Unfortunately, my job requires me to interact with people so I feel like I’m an introvert trying to constantly be an extrovert among the extroverted. It works well, but for short periods of time.

    Being an introvert I am drawn to solitary activities such as writing, but dealing with being an introvert and having the need to recharge, I use writing to cope as well. Journaling to help process the and writing characters in my fiction who are also introverts, perhaps in an attempt to make me feel like I’m not the only introvert craving a real connection with people?

    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the Top 10 Myths article! Using writing to cope and understand is such a valuable skill to have. I can’t really imagine my life without writing.

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