I’m Only Introverted On The Outside, Part 3

This is the last of a three-part series in which I will attempt to explain the wonderful world of introverts.  If you want to catch up, here’s the first post (the most read post to date on this site) and the second post (one of the least read posts to date).


Wrapping up this series, I just wanted to take a couple of minutes and give you two things to remember about introverts.

    1. Being an introvert doesn’t automatically make you shy.
    2. Introverts actually like you and they like quiet time, and those two can go together.

One of the biggest misconceptions, I think, about introverts is that we don’t like interaction with others. We’re shy and closed off, with our secret hiding places and dark nooks and crannies. There is little wonder, then, why an architect who worked on a recent building renovation was quoted in the paper as saying, “we took an introverted building and turned it into an extroverted building”.  Oh, if $50 million could cure introverted behavior.

The building is beautiful, but the quote points to the basic misunderstanding of introverts, that we don’t like interaction and collaboration with other people. We do, it just wears us out.  Extroverts gain energy – they feel alive and vibrant – in social gatherings. For introverts, that same gathering may be just as enjoyable and may be just as exciting, but it’s not energizing. It’s energy depleting.

At my wife’s high school reunion a month ago, she made small talk and worked the crowd like the professional extrovert that she is (see #11 in the HuffPost article).  I think that she would tell you that I even surprised her with my effort to speak to (some) people who I didn’t know.  I still felt in the way and at a loss for words at times, but when that happened, the chimichangas were outstanding!

The Sunday after the reunion was the start of our rotation to teach a first grade Sunday school class. So on the heels of Small-talk Saturday Night, I had to stand in front of 20 first graders and give them the low down on Jonathon and David’s friendship (Saul cared not for David or for Jonathon’s friendship with him).

It was the most exhausting 16 hours that I can remember. It was like Thanksgiving, except with fewer stops and I didn’t make pancakes.

The point, however, is that I DID IT, and I liked it. You may not have been able to tell it on the outside, but I actually enjoyed it.  Over the course of 16 hours, I asked questions, listened to answers, shared experiences and laughed with other people – some of whom I did not know.

Now, after church, Jack and I went fishing for three hours in the afternoon. We listened to nothing in particular and rarely said more than “I got one” or “Ahh, missed him!” The only interaction with another creature that we had that afternoon was sticking a hook through a cricket and feeding it to a bream. We catch and release.

Introverts need that quiet time. Not necessarily “alone time”, just quiet time.

Go hug an introvert today!



2 thoughts on “I’m Only Introverted On The Outside, Part 3”

  1. After reading and carefully considering your 3 part series, I struggle with whether my main categorization would be introverted or shy or both. While I identify with numerous points on the list, I don’t feel that my energy is depleted being around groups as much as I feel anxious about it. It depends on who the group is – if it is people that I do not know very well I am extremely reluctant to engage (and have been accused of being stuck up – when really I just don’t know what the heck to say to you; however, if it is a group of close friends I could be the life of the party.

    There are also times where I would rather more than anything just be somewhere by myself with a good book …

    Do you think there is such a thing as a shy extrovert, though?

    Also, I will say that the advent of social media has helped to somewhat allay my inability to make small talk. People’s social footprint gives me a jumping off point from which to start a conversation by asking a question about something I know that has happened in the person’s life or something that they are interested in (without coming off as stalkerish) and that solves part of the small talk problem of what to say. So, there’s that.

    1. I’m going to stay with the understanding that extroverts gain energy from social gatherings and introverts lose energy. Under that belief, each are defined independent of shyness so, yes, I think it is possible that there is such a thing as a shy extrovert. Sasquatch as they may be.

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