Introversion is a topic that I hold dear to my heart. This is partly because I am one and partly because of how introverts are misunderstood and how their gifts tend to be overlooked or neglected.
I believe that every personality, whether extroverted or introverted, once identified, has immense power if it is capitalized to the fullest. A lot of introverts tend to miss out on this because the world is showing them how to be somebody else. Knowing the different types of introverts that exist and where you fit in will help you maximize on your personality and capabilities and live a full life.
Another thing to note is that being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re shy or withdrawn or can’t deal with people. It shows how you energize yourself e.g. spending time alone, and what types of activities deplete you slowly or quickly.
Different Types of Introverts
1. Anxious Introvert
Anxious introverts tend to shy away from social gatherings because they make them uncomfortable and anxious. They don’t believe in their social skills and as you know, what you believe tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For such an introvert to do well career-wise, if they have to report to an office, giving them their own cubicle or their own space so that they have a boundary and are not overwhelmed by too many people trying to interact with them and them feeling awkward about their interactions or feeling like they failed at being social.
If you’re an anxious introvert, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’ll never get over it. I used to dread social functions and I cancelled so many times. I came to realize that one of the reasons was because of where I was at health wise, mentally and career wise at the time.
Your mental state can contribute to this anxiety. If you feel like you’re failing in certain areas, it might make it hard to socialize because you don’t want people to ask you questions and find out you’re failing. You may also be comparing yourself to people at social settings and feeling like you don’t measure up.
Take baby steps to change different parts of your life that will give you peace and confidence. I’ve changed what I do for a living which has given me stability and confidence.
I go for therapy which has taught me to recognize negative thought patterns which are a bunch of lies that I’ve created and believed for a long time. Therapy has taught me to also be comfortable with who I am now, warts and all, and not allow people to treat me like dirt.
I also don’t have the expectation to “perform” at social settings or interact with everyone. Interacting with just a few people and having a laugh is good enough for me and if we’re not each other’s cup of tea, that’s fine. I won’t die.
Social confidence is a numbers game. Keep practicing and using techniques to make you feel more comfortable and confident at different types of events. Remember, everyone is just as human and full of imperfections as you are.
2. Thinking Introvert
I have a friend who every time she gets home, she reviews her day mentally. It’s like a movie where she observes what was said and done and makes mental notes and conclusions.
These are the traits of a thinking introvert. They tend to spend a lot of time in their head and are prone to getting lost in a world of fantasy which are good traits for creatives such as writers and artists. Thinking introverts are very introspective, reflective and imaginative.
My friend, the thinking introvert, is not averse to social functions and in fact thrives in them. You might be able to notice a thinking introvert by how they drift off at times. Sometimes you may be talking to them but realize that they’ve zoned out into fantasy land by the glazed look on their face. Don’t take it personally.
A thinking introvert may not do well at giving a talk on a topic that they’re not familiar with but ask them to talk on something that they are passionate about or have had enough time to prepare for and you’ll probably be blown away.
The presentation will be well thought through, it will answer questions that you might not even have thought of and it will be insightful. Definitely a person that you want for team projects and group work but be flexible with them to accommodate their working terms because they produce gold.
3. Restrained Introvert
A restrained introvert is like a machine that takes long to start but once it does, it’s dependable and works at a steady pace. Restrained introverts are slow in their actions and thinking and need time to get both done.
The same goes for social settings. They need time to adjust to a social setting, get their bearings, and interact with people. This is not as a result of them feeling awkward like the anxious introvert.
If you want them to perform at optimum, don’t rush them. Let them do things at their own pace. One of the advantages of this personality is if they’re given enough time to think things through, they come up with well-thought through solutions.
Even during conversation, don’t try to hurry them. They need time to think and process their answers.
As a restrained introvert, to function at optimum, plan your days and don’t pack too much in a day. Plan what you can do at a steady pace.
Give yourself enough time to wake up, chill in bed for a bit, get out of bed and get ready. So if you know that you need to leave the house at 7, you’ll probably need to wake up at least two hours before that to wake up and get through your morning routine before you leave the house.
Embrace your personality. You’re not lazy or slow, you’re just wired differently and once you know what you’re working with, you can get the kind of results that you want in your life.
4. Social Introvert
Contrary to what the name suggests, social introverts are not particularly social. Large crowds, noise and too much interaction, tends to over stimulate them and they can only manage so much at a time.
They may be mistaken for being antisocial or aloof but in truth, they prefer small gatherings, hanging out with close-knit friends or being alone to recharge. They actually enjoy being alone.
This doesn’t mean that they’re shy or they don’t like having company. They just need it in measured quantities.
I see a lot of myself in the social introvert and I had to learn to put myself first. I was so worried about pleasing people and being available for them when it was actually draining me and not making me a very good friend because it resulted in me shutting down, putting my phone off for long periods of time and avoiding people.
Some of the tips that a social introvert can apply are:
- Get enough rest before an event. This way, you’re charged and can handle the stimulation without wilting like a flower.
- It’s okay to leave after a few hours. The older I get, the more grateful I am for this philosophy. I feel no guilt whatsoever about leaving a party when I am ready to. I do not have to party past midnight to feel accepted. And I don’t feel exhausted the next day when I get enough shut eye.
- Set a time for the number of comfortable hours you will spend at the party. This stops you from fleeing 20 minutes after getting there and you’re able to mingle or network sufficiently before leaving in time to avoid getting drained.
- Banish the expectation of trying to be friends with everyone and instead focus on interacting with one person. Susan Cain, author of Quiet, calls this the power of one and the rule of thumb for networking events. It can be a few people instead of just one. Seeing as you prefer small groups and meaningful conversation, create this microcosm at social gatherings.
- Take bathroom breaks, walk around the premises, take your drink outside as you catch your breath and then go back and join the party.
You may see yourself in all four types of introversion. That’s fine. What matters is how you play to your strengths and not let your weaknesses define you.
For any of the 4 types of introverts, self-care should be made a priority and practiced regularly. Prayer, meditation, journaling, taking long, deep breaths every now and then, coloring, gardening, exercising, having a bubble bath, smelling your favorite scents, are a few of the ways that you can practice self-care.
Controlling what you eat, listen to, read, watch, discuss are also ways to filter out negativity and let in positivity.