Months of heart and work and crossed fingers led me onto a stage in front of 500 or so people last week. And when I was done, I was done.
While my friends and my love wanted to raise their filled glasses—beer frothing, wine spilling—I wanted to go home. My husband usually knows when this is the case, but every once in awhile, he hedges his bets and pushes—shoves?—me toward a way that’s not my own.
But (almost) four decades in, I know my introverted self well, and after spending a short time at the party, fondly observing the cheers I had no desire to join in on, I went home. Where I spent the next four days—blissfully—recovering.
And absolutely everything was right—for me—about that introverted response. I love being an introvert. Here are six reasons why.
Introverts listen more than they talk.
So they know—really know—how their people are doing. They understand what makes people tick, they connect the dots between vignettes that people share and thread them to create a roadmap of the people they love.
What introverts are doing right here: In a time when we hide behind screens and share best-case-scenario versions of ourselves, truly seeing someone and wanting to understand their story is a gift.
Introverts know when they need to shut down and that’s exactly what they do.
They understand self care and dive into it—no excuses, apologies, or no thank yous to be found.
What introverts are doing right here: This world moves quickly; finding stillness within it is a skill.
Introverts know how to be by themselves.
They require alone time to refill their energy stores and get back to even, to the point where they have the ability to be with others. Loving people but being content without them is something that people spend their angsty 20s—and 30s, and maybe some of their 40s?—striving for. Unless they’re introverts.
What introverts are doing right here: Introverts understand how to be alone without being lonely.
Introverts pick the people they surround themselves with carefully.
Unsupportive, unkind, take more than they give are traits that that drain, and introverts already deplete quickly. They know when to cut their losses with a relationship. Introverts aren’t hasty, but they do understand the “let go of the things—and people—that aren’t serving you” mantra well.
What introverts are doing right here: Surrounding yourself with good people is both a lift and a gift that everyone deserves.
Introverts are sensitive to how others are feeling.
Writer Lindsey Mead calls this being porous—feeling the sting of other people’s hurts.
What introverts are doing right here: This world is so peppered with sadness, kids—and adults—being bullied, misunderstood, asked to be who they’re really not, that I have to believe that, while sometimes painful, tricky and difficult, being sensitive to others is a positive.
Introverts engage in a lot of self talk.
A lot of self talk. Their brains are constantly swirling with ideas and thoughts and opinions. And because they process better alone than with others, when they’re ready to share, their words aren’t careless.
What introverts are doing right here: They only talk when they actually have something to say.
Like most personality traits, there’s an introverted-extroverted spectrum that people fall on. How often you do these things—among others—compared with how often you do their opposites tells you whether you lean toward extroversion or introversion.
Either way, it’s so easy to beat yourself up for who and how and what you are, isn’t it?
For introverts, it’s questioning not always—ever?—being the last one at the party, or the first one for that matter, for choosing a book instead of an outing, mismatched jammies instead of an LBD, slippers instead of heels. For needing equal “off” time to balance “on” time.
But our puzzle pieces fit together with room for all of our positives, and these are just six of the traits that I think introverts can go ahead and (proudly) claim.
Are you more introverted or extroverted? What trait do you love about being either one?