If your ideal Friday night is sitting on the couch, curled up with a novel instead of partying at a nightclub (you know, back when that was a thing) you may have been called introverted. But what is an introvert?
Introverts tend to get lumped into a one-size-fits-all box, with labels like quiet, thoughtful, and … wait for it … introspective. News flash: introverts are a lot more complex.
According to the American Psychological Association, an introvert is someone who tends to turn inward rather than outward like their extroverted counterparts.
Psychologist Carl Jung made introversion a household name in the 1960s, after he described the two distinct and fundamental personality types: introversion and extraversion.
But your personality isn’t black or white. Introverts and extroverts are two opposite ends of a spectrum and most people fall somewhere in the middle.
If all this has you wondering: Am I an introvert? we’ve got you. Here are a few ways to tell if you’re a little more into introversion.
1. You enjoy being alone
Striking up small talk at a company party feels draining and you get burned out from socializing. You might prefer the comforts of home to the noisy chaos of a coffee shop or restaurant or find it easier to focus when you’re alone. Being alone recharges and energizes introverts.
2. Small talk isn’t your jam
When you speak it’s deliberate, rather than filling space with words. And while you’re not the first person to volunteer thoughts on any particular matter, when you do talk, people listen.
3. People assume you’re quiet or shy
You’ve been told you’re hard to get to know, but small talk seems pointless, even tiring to you. FYI: People often confuse introversion with shyness and extroversion with friendliness, but these correlations aren’t true. Instead, introversion and extroversion describe a person’s relationship with social engagement.
4. Your blood pressure spikes at the doc
If your blood pressure spikes at your yearly physical, introversion could be to blame. A 2006 study found that introverts had lower blood pressure at home than they did at the doctor’s office.
These results were “significant” even when researchers controlled for factors like age, smoking history, and medication.
While there’s no evidence of an exact cause of introversion, there does seem to be a connection between your brain and your personality.
A 2011 study showed extraverts have high brain sensitivity when it comes to faces. They scanned the brains of 28 healthy people while looking at pictures of both human faces and flowers.
Researchers were looking for the “P300” reaction (which got its name because it occurs in the brain within 300 milliseconds of seeing something new).
It turns out extroverts like people. They had a stronger P300 after seeing a face, but the flower photos didn’t get the same reaction. People described as introverted weren’t quite so impressed. They had the same reaction to faces as they did to flowers.
Knowing this aspect of your personality type helps you take better care of you. If social interactions are super draining, re-charge your batteries with your favorite solo activity, like:
- reading a book
- taking a walk
- watching your favorite television show or movie
- listening to music while you finish household chores
No matter what self-care looks like for you, it’s important to give yourself the time and space you need in order to live your best life.
A 2015 study showed that happiness doesn’t depend on how outgoing you are. It found that introverts with quality relationships and the ability to self-regulate their emotions when times got tough showed high levels of happiness.
Introverts have often been described as everything extroverts are not, but that just isn’t the case. Your personality is likely somewhere between those extreme labels, and each has its own unique strengths.
You can get the most from your introvert superpowers with a little TLC. If you’re feeling like you need a break, take it, and remember to nurture the relationships with those that matter most, including yourself!