Sunday, November 15, 2009

Caring for Your Introvert - The Atlantic (March 2003)

My name is jamie and I am an introvert.

This is one of the best articles I've come across about this particular subject. The best and perhaps most telling line in the article, "Hell is other people at breakfast." (Sartre)

So, what does it mean to be an introvert? The dictionary defines introvert as being a transitive verb that means to “turn inward or in upon oneself”. I prefer to think of it as being a trait that facilitates the state of reflection. I don't just reflect upon myself, I reflect on the world, other people, and experiences. To do that I need quiet time, alone time, me time.

Carl Jung coined the terms "introverted" and "extroverted" as ways of describing two opposing personality types. Jung said that extroverts preferred being around others and interacting energetically with the world. That is, in my experience, an understatement. To me, extroverts seem to need to be around others all the time. They often talk non-stop, often about irrelevant and meaningless things like the hockey game, the weather, what so-and-so-did and other fluffy stuff. My experience of being in a room with an extrovert is that at their worst they use up all the air, most of the energetic space and pollute the environment with a steady and incessant noise they refer to as socializing.

Ok, it’s not always that bad. One of my daughters and 3 of my granddaughters are extroverts. My daughter in particular embodies the traits of a true in-preference extrovert. As a toddler she hated playing alone and as a teen called home several times a day... she kind of lived on the phone. She still calls me or visits almost daily. I love her and understand that for her connection means being able to hear, speak to, see and feel the presence of another.

I however do not need a physical or auditory presence to feel connected. In fact, I often feel less connected when face to face than at a distance. This does not mean I’m reclusive, shy, lonely, depressed or snobbish. I just need processing time, time to reflect, place experiences in context. Extroverts seem to need to do this out loud and with others. I need to do this by myself, in thought or in writing.


introverted. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
Retrieved November 30, 2009, from

"extroversion and introversion." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. Retrieved November 30, 2009 from

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