What The Definition Of An Introvert Is (And Isn’t)

f6ce7cd9733c7c0b163ba3ae47999094.jpgI see and hear it very often, that when a person is quiet, shy or reserved, they are quickly labeled as an introvert. The main part that bothers me, is that it is very often suggested in a negative way by those who don’t understand the full meaning of the word. I have previously written about the definition of an introvert and the misunderstandings one faces as an introvert. The definition of the word ‘introvert’ needs to be detached from any stereotypes or words such as shy, in order to be fully understood. One can be an extrovert, yet they may appear reserved at first. They may be an extrovert that feels energy and enthusiasm when they socialise. One could be an introvert who is extremely talkative, but needs more time in their own company.

Just as much as extroverts are often equated with being loud, introverts are often equated as being quiet. It simply depends on the individual. I know introverts who are very talkative, and extroverts who aren’t. In short, the reality is that extroverts feel more energy when socialising, as opposed to introverts who need alone time to recharge.  They could be an introverted individual that is perfectly adequate in making good conversation, but it depends entirely on the individual. Every person has a different personality, and those that you may suspect to be an extrovert, may actually be an introvert. Most of the time it’s the stereotypes that we are taught in association to what it is to be an introvert, that can cause a blur in the true definition of the word introvert.
introvert.JPGAn introvert isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t a negative word, a fault or a flaw. It isn’t something that needs to be overcome, though often it can be perceived this way. The very first words that appear on Google, as I type “define introvert” is “a shy, reticent person.” This ties in with my previous article on the difference between shyness and introversion. The reason why I have an issue with this definition, is that not all introverts are shy. In fact, many introverts are able to appear extroverted in certain situations. To some degree many introverts are indeed reticent. It comes with varying degrees. The problem I have with this definition, is that it again gives a short and inaccurate full description of the meaning of an introvert.

An introvert is someone who needs alone time in order to refuel themselves. They are not necessarily shy, reserved or quiet. There are some that are, then there are some that aren’t. Many introverts are naturally thinkers and listeners, but there are those who do enjoy being the talker. There are introverts who can talk endlessly when it’s about a topic they find interest in. Most introverts keep many thoughts to themselves, rather than directly and openly express them. I remember in high school, the teacher would ask a question, and there would be people who would shoot their hands straight away. It wasn’t because I didn’t know the answer, but I just wanted to let them have the attention rather than myself.

A great article called The Real Definitions of Introvert and Extrovert, explains the true meaning of introversion very well. It mentions that “Being an introvert or an extrovert isn’t about how outgoing or socially confident you are.” This really rings true in so many ways. At the crux of it those things are only what is visually seen. Being outgoing and bubbly is often a personality trait. There are those who give a friendly atmosphere, but it isn’t whether they are an introvert or an extrovert, it’s simply part of their nature. Understandably, it is more common for a shy or quiet person to be an introvert, but it may not always be the case. A snippet from lifehacker.com  captures the misunderstandings quite well. One part that spoke to me in particular was:

“There are a lot of misunderstandings about what introversion and extroversion actually mean. To many people, being an extrovert means you’re outgoing, and being an introvert means you’re shy. Or maybe you see introverts as homebodies while extroverts are out chatting it up with strangers on the street. Maybe you think introverts are sensitive while extroverts have a thick skin. None of those stereotypes are correct, so let’s set the record straight before we get further into the weeds.”

The reality is that we live in an extroverted world. It’s important to have the understanding of these words, in order to avoid quick assumptions or stereotypes. We are all different. Words can often tie with judgment, personal experiences and stereotypes. This can easily lose the core meaning of a word over time. What I hope is that the meaning of these words can be detached from a personality or certain characteristics. That they can be understood in a way that allows us to open our minds and realise that the world doesn’t need more extroverts and less introverts, it simply needs a balance of both worlds in order to thrive. 

Actresses who are introverts: Cate Blanchett, Eva Green, Emma Watson, Audrey Hepburn, Keira Knightley, Rooney Mara, Elizabeth Debicki, Alicia Vikander, Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Rose Byrne, Liv Tyler, Jessica Chastain.

9 thoughts on “What The Definition Of An Introvert Is (And Isn’t)

  1. Great article, Katie. We need more information like this to remove the stigma of being introverted. Slowly, introversion is being seen simply as introversion and not a negative quality.

  2. Great post! I agree totally, the label introvert kills me! It’s funny I read a lot of manga and the quiet kid is usually considered the thoughtful one. The quiet adult is the great sage. they are never considered the weak person.

  3. Do you have thoughts (or a post, perhaps) about ambiverts? I’ve heard that an ambivert is someone who goes between extroversion and introversion, but I’ve also heard that there is a spectrum with only extroverts and introverts, and everyone falls somewhere in between. Just curious as to your thoughts! Great article, and I agree with mistyprose. The list of actresses was interesting and empowering!

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