Image courtesy of Janet Burgess/Freeimages.com
Last week my wife’s sister read my article “A Coupon for Your Favorite Introvert”. In the article I talk about my introverted wife and my extroverted daughter. After reading it, my sister-in-law texted my wife: “I always thought you were an extrovert, not that there’s anything wrong with being an introvert.”
I haven’t spoken to my sister-in-law further about it, but I think this is a good example of how introversion continues to be misunderstood. If someone thinks that the definition of an introvert is based on how “social” someone appears (being confident vs. shy or awkward), then my wife would probably be guessed an extrovert. However, that is not the definition. Introversion is not a measure of shyness or social skills.
As I was struggling to embrace my own introversion, it was so helpful to realize that my wife was a fellow introvert, but happy with who she is. She is very confident, doesn’t have issues socializing (although she doesn’t necessarily enjoy it), and is a very deep and highly creative thinker. While she is fully capable of social interaction, she definitely prefers a small gathering of close friends and family to a wild and crazy party with strangers. She also needs some quiet time to think and recharge from time to time. Give her some time to think and she comes up with some very creative ideas and is an amazing problem solver. And if you are an introvert, I know you have some amazing talents to share as well. What is right with you? What is the unique contribution you bring?
So when I hear “not that there is anything wrong with that” about being an introvert, I want to shout “No, being an introvert is awesome!” We need to move past the false definitions of introversion as shy, awkward, strange, etc., and rather see the great gifts of the individual. Let’s proudly claim the title “Introvert” and use it to identify with the extraordinary abilities we each have, rather than using as a label to describe what we perceive as lacking. By utilizing our own unique strengths and abilities while recognizing our own distinct needs, rather than comparing ourselves with those who may have different gifts, we can attain the greatness that is exclusively ours.