I’m sure many have seen some version of the meme: “Introverts of the world unite. Separately. In your own homes.” Well, apparently today is World Introvert Day, a day when introverts can not only do that but, as the official website for the day says, “help people worldwide better understand and appreciate introverts.” In honor of World Introvert Day, I’ll talk about some of my experiences as an introvert, personality tests you can take to find out if you’re an introvert and, if so, what kind you are, and a couple of books for introverts.
Being an Introvert
As a young adult, if asked if I was an introvert or extrovert, I would have thought I was an extrovert because I was loud, outspoken, and spent a lot of time out in groups of people. However, a lot of the times I was like that were when alcohol was involved, so while it is how I acted, it is not necessarily how I am, at least not most of the time. Looking back, I think that I actually acted more outgoing than I was and used alcohol to help me be that way because I thought that’s how I was “supposed” to be and there was something wrong with spending “too much” time alone. As an older and now sober adult, I find I lean much more toward being an introvert and being okay with that and that my tendencies toward introversion were always there even as a kid.
Writing and Public Speaking
Since the time I first learned how to write, I have always found it much easier to express myself in writing than verbally. Although I have taken classes and had positions in which I was able to become comfortable with public speaking and I even enjoy it on occasion, it didn’t come naturally. Usually if I have pulled off public speaking successfully it’s because I have written down what I wanted to say or at least had an outline, practiced multiple times, remembered at least half of what I wanted to say, and/or was in a relatively small group of people.
Time Alone & in Small Groups
I’ve always been comfortable entertaining myself by myself. A lot of my hobbies are ones that I can bring other people in on if I want to but that can also quite happily be done alone: writing, reading, quilling, watching television shows and movies, playing video games, etc. Although it’s raised a few eyebrows, I’ve also never had a problem going to a concert or on a trip alone. I’ve often ended up meeting people where I went who wanted to hang out, but I’ve also had times where I was alone the whole time, and I was comfortable with both. I do like to have social interaction, sometimes even in a larger group, but while extroverts find themselves energized by this type of thing and can “recharge” by being out among people, too much socialization is draining for me and I “recharge” with time alone.
Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator
The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular personality assessment instrument based on Carl Jung’s theory of personality types. It was developed by Isabel Briggs Meyers and her mother Katherine Cook Briggs. In the MBTI, preferences are measured to sort individuals into one of 16 personality types. These types are indicated by combinations of four letters which correspond to people’s preferences in four domains, with two options in each domain.
The first domain is one’s favorite world with one’s preferences being more toward the outer world (Extraversion) or the inner world (Introversion). The next domain is related to information with one tending to focus on basic information one takes in (Sensing) or on interpretation and adding meaning (iNtuition). The next consideration is decision making with one making decisions by logic and consistency (Thinking) or by considering people and circumstances (Feeling). Finally, structure is considered in which one might prefer to make decisions (Judging) or prefer to leave their options open and consider new information (Perceiving).
If you’re interested in taking the MBTI assessment, you can do so online or in person with a certified professional. However, if you just want to take a personality test for fun, there are many available online, several of which even borrow the E/I, S/N, T/F, J/P setup. Although they may not be as accurate as the real MBTI and you should certainly only use them for fun and entertainment, I have found that they are a good alternative if you don’t have the funds or desire to take the MBTI. I’ll discuss a couple below.
On the World Introvert Day website, you can take a free personality test by iPersonic in which you pick from sets of lists which one sounds most like you. I got “Dreamy Idealist“, which is one of the introverted personality types. While there were a couple things that weren’t quite right, usually even where I disagreed there was a grain of truth, so overall it was a pretty good summary. For example, I initially did not agree that I have an “unusually great” ability to concentrate because I tend to switch back and forth between tasks, but I can relate to the ability to “become engrossed in something and forget everything around you-even to eat and drink”. This tends to only happen if I am really into something I’m doing though, so I guess I would say that I have an unusually great but selective ability to concentrate.
One of the better free tests I have found online is 16 Personalities which is based on the MBTI as well as the Big Five personality traits. You can read more about the theory behind 16 Personalities here and the various personalities here. In this test you can pick on a scale whether you Agree or Disagree with each question, which I prefer to being shown a list. Although they offer a “premium profile” that you can pay for, their free description for each personality type is quite detailed and includes strengths and weaknesses, romantic relationships, friendships, parenthood, career path, and workplace habits.
Like with other tests I’ve taken that borrow the Meyers-Briggs types, in this one I got INFP, which is Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perceiving. Some sites call INFP the “Dreamer” or “Idealist”. 16 Personalities calls it “The Mediator” and claims that this personality type comprises just 4% of people. While the description is far too lengthy to talk about everything, here are a few of the things that stood out as accurate to me about being an INFP on this read through:
They say INFP’s are “always looking for the hint of good in even the worst people and events”. Although it’s probably annoying at times, I do try to do this. For example, when I lost everything on my USB drive, I wrote a post about what I gained from the experience. Recently we moved into a house that is actually smaller than our apartment in Germany and has no basement storage or attic and few closets and cabinets. Instead of being too disappointed, I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity to downsize and to be creative in figuring out how to organize what we do want to keep.
They are also pretty accurate as far as what INFPs, or at least this INFP, looks for in work saying that INFPs “aren’t looking for easy, forgettable work that pays the bills” but “looking for meaningful work that they actually want to think about”. If I’m doing a job, I need to find the meaning in it and much of my dissatisfaction with some of my previous jobs has been due to wanting to do something that felt more meaningful and helpful to people and to being bored due to simplicity and a lot of downtime.
They point out that “though intelligent, the regimented learning style of most schools makes long years earning an advanced degree a formidable undertaking for people with the INFP personality type” but that this is ”often what’s needed to advance in a field that rings true for [INFPs]“. This has been the case for me. While I was interested in psychology for several years, which is one of the fields they say is often suited to INFP’s, it took me a few to be willing to dive back into school. I would like to continue on to a doctoral degree, but I did not want to do it immediately back to back with my master’s.
I found it interesting that they said that “seemingly every INFP’s dream growing up” is “to become an author”. Of course, I wanted to be an author from first grade on, and my first degree was in creative writing and art. They also mentioned “blogging and freelance work” being opportunities for INFP’s and these are both things I have done and continue to do. In addition to this blog, I have a blog at Investing in Fitness, and plan to start one on my main website as well.
Books for Introverts
Not surprisingly, many introverts are readers, so I thought I’d close out with sharing a few books specifically for introverts (although I’m sure there are some extroverts who might find them interesting as well). I have’t read these yet, but they’re on my to-read list.
Happily Introverted Ever After
In this book, the full title of which is Happily Introverted Ever After: How to Handle the Challenges of an Extroverted World, German psychologist and developer of iPersonic, Felicitas Heyne says that she addresses “introvert specific problems like health risks, job-related problems and difficult relationships”. As of this posting, the book is available free as a PDF on iPersonic or as a free download on iBooks. You can find out more about the author on her Facebook page and website. Her Facebook page offers some posts in English and others in German while the website is available in an English version or German version.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
I have wanted to read Quiet by Susan Cain since it first came out but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Amazon reviews on the book are mostly 5 stars. In an interview with Amazon she said that she wrote the book because “our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to ‘pass’ as extroverts”. She says that “the bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and ultimately happiness”. According to the Amazon description, in addition to charting “the rise of the Extrovert Ideal” in Quiet Cain “introduces us to successful introverts” and “argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so”. On the site Quiet Revolution, you can learn more about Susan, read about Quiet Revolutionaries, hear from younger introverts in Quiet Diaries, take a personality test, read articles about introverts in the categories of Parenting, Work, and Life, and more.
Are you an introvert? Feel free to share your experiences and favorite introvert-related books below.