A big epiphany for me regarding introversion occurred when speaking with a neighbor a while back. We were talking about where we each worked and we figured out that our companies were literally right next to each other. The funny thing was that he was the one that realized that we worked across the street from each other, and not me. I did not know the name of the company that was right across the street from me. It is actually quite a large building and I had been driving past it for many years at this point. The reason for this is that when I am driving, I am doing more thinking than observing landmarks and other things. Don’t worry, I do keep my eyes on the road while I am thinking. As an introvert, this “not noticing” happens in many other situations outside driving.
In light of this, I thought of an extroverted co-worker. She could remember the outfits of everyone in the office and even whether they repeated outfits in the last month or so. I have to think hard to remember what I wore yesterday! Or, the other day, a different extrovert said, “What is different about your office?” I had to think about it for a minute and eventually realized that I had gotten rid of a couple stacks of paper. I didn’t notice any thing different, because sometimes I just do not pay that much attention to the details of the outside environment.
I believe that this “spending more time in our heads” is at the core of introversion and cannot be changed. We may be able to temporarily change and concentrate more on the outside world than normal for a short time, but we will revert back to our natural introverted state eventually.
I do find there is great strength in my thinking ability while I am driving or many other times. I get some of my best ideas while driving. And, of course, I can focus on details when needed, such as while driving in unfamiliar places. But in everyday driving when I know the way, I’m happy to be on “auto-pilot” and work on all the ideas in my head.