“That is the quiet one and he’s a book worm too. He is shy and quite anti-social”. You often hear these labels describing children in social set ups. Does it matter whether a one child talks more than the other? Well psychologists have answers to that dating as far back as 1921. This is the year when Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung Jung published Psychological Types introducing the idea that each person has a psychological type. He described two personality types; introversion and extroversion.
Extroversion has long been embraced and portrayed by society as the appealing personality. The most popular student has to be outgoing, must attend all parties and has to make headlines in the college magazine and be the subject matter on social media platforms. A certified extrovert!. Extroverts are comfortable in groups and like working in them. They have a wide range of friends and know “millions” of people. They more often than not jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over. They are gregarious and ebullient.
Introverts on the other hand would rather stay home and read a book than attend a party. Welcome to their world. They get energy from critical thinking, ideas, art, books and researches. They are comfortable in their inner world and they prefer doing things alone or with one or two people who they feel comfortable with. Introverts love some people. Some introverts will love only a very few people, and then only in measured doses.
Generally introverts don’t like attention from a crowd unless they are very familiar with everyone. They can be comfortable in a restaurant with a group, but will be the ones quietly listening. They don’t say much, but when they do, they often deliver the punch line. Just because their participation is low, does not mean they are not having a good time. They also take time to reflect before taking making a decision. Introverts are viewed as “reflective” or “reserved.” Don’t confuse introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not synonyms.
Many renowned authors, innovators and scientists are introverts who have made history and left indelible marks in the world. They feel most creative when they’re alone with their own thoughts, rather than in groups. J. K. Rowling, had the idea for Harry Potter in 1990 while traveling alone on a delayed train.
Notably, innovation and creativity is best achieved through solitude. Like many introverts, Albert Einstein, world-renowned physicist who developed the theory of relativity, did his best thinking alone: “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind,” he said. No introvert, no Microsoft. Bill Gates: the inconspicuous entrepreneur, philanthropist and computer programmer had unalloyed focus, which allowed him to spend thousands of hours writing codes.
Another notable introvert is Mahatma Gandhi; the revolutionist, revered leader of India’s independence movement who changed the direction of an entire nation. He was an inward-looking person, at ease on his own.
Other outstanding introverts include Mozart and Beethoven; classical pianists and composers of all time and Pablo Picasso; the greatest and most influential artist of the 20th century. In his words “without great solitude, no serious work is possible.”
Such is the situation of the introvert, a minority in the sample population, but a majority in the gifted population. It therefore helps to understand that introverts need solitude. They recharge through solitude and feel drained from too much stimulation. Introverts prefer silent communication. SMS and WhatsApp are their best friends.
To the introverts; next time you attend a party and a loud somebody asks you whether you are bored: raise your glass towards them in silence. Loudness is not an indicator of fun. Peace and quiet shows you are not only enjoying the party; but savouring the moment. Furthermore, when your phone rings and you don’t want to talk to the caller; don’t answer it. The cell phone has the voice mail option.