Being an introvert means you have introverted tendencies you should respect—and leverage. Remember, though: Your introversion doesn’t define your entire existence.
Does being an introvert define you?
I think about this question, this concept, a lot. Probably more than most people do.
It’s been bouncing and shape-shifting around my mind since 1994, when I was in graduate school and I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in one of my first classes.
I came out as an INFJ: Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging.
But the lightbulb that came on for me in class that day, and the almost magical insight I’ve been processing and using ever since, eminates mostly from that first MBTI preference measure …
The Right Pair of Glasses
“This explains so much!” I remember thinking when I first saw the concept described in detail.
“And it still explains so much,” I think practically every day now.
It explains so much about how I am, how I think, how I feel, how I behave, what energizes me, what wears me down. About the way my life is, and why.
Understanding what introversion is—and learning that you’re an introvert—is like getting the right pair of glasses, perhaps at long last: You finally start to see yourself clearly.
And you wish you’d gotten the new specs years ago.
A Practical Self-Care Tool
But knowing you’re an introvert goes beyond the cerebral; it’s more than merely understanding, for its own sake, how you tick and why.
It’s also practical, a key piece of data you can use in your everyday life to stay healthy and happy.
I say that in two respects:
- It can help you plan and prepare for the day ahead.
- It can help you recharge and replenish yourself as the day comes to an end.
Think about it.
If you know you’re an introvert and, for example, the workday unfolding in front of you is filled with meetings, you’ll be much more likely to prepare thoroughly for those meetings and build in small breaks between them, all in a wise nod to your introverted way of operating.
Meantime, once the day is over and you go home to who knows what, you will be more apt to take care of yourself in your favorite introverted way, whether that means going for a run alone or reading a book or knitting a scarf or puttering in the garage or taking a long walk in nature with your spouse.
Being an Introvert Is Part of You
The bottom line about being an introvert, then, is that it explains a few key things about you.
It also gives you a valuable piece of the framework you use to manage your life.
But there are two keywords here: “few” and “piece.”
Because your introversion doesn’t explain everything about you, nor does it constitute the entirety of your life-management framework.
Again, think about it.
Your introversion is just one part of your personality, which in turn is composed of many additional characteristics.
At a bare minimum, science has boiled each person’s personality down into some combination of what are known as the Big Five traits: extraversion, openness to experience, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Then throw into the mix your life experiences, unique to you; your genetic makeup, unique to you; your relationships, unique to you; your interests and abilities and skills and values, again all unique to you. To say nothing of variables we aren’t even aware of.
Your Introversion Doesn’t Define You
So does being an introvert, on its own, define you?
No, it doesn’t.
Or at least it shouldn’t.
But it is a significant element of the messy, beautiful potpourri that is you.
And the closer you tend to fall on the introverted side of the introvert-extrovert continuum, the more you need to acknowledge—and account for—your introversion as a prominent part of your existence.