Shelley Bridgeman 's Opinion

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Are you an introvert?

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Introverts tend to get a bad rap.Photo / Thinkstock
Introverts tend to get a bad rap.Photo / Thinkstock

Introverts have long been compared unfavourably with the extroverts among us. Often quiet and contemplative, introverted people just aren't as visible as the brash and more outgoing types. Being introverted is traditionally not considered a positive personality trait.

There's a blog "dedicated to the many problems we introverts face on a daily basis while living in an extrovert-based society".

It explains that: "While extroverts gain energy by socializing and being around people, introverts gain energy by being alone - and lose energy by being around people."

Some of their problems are: "Your friends think you're a hermit", "Loud noises make you anxious" and "No one understands your intense dislike of talking on the phone or answering the door."

Ten years ago The Atlantic published Caring for Your Introvert, an article that explored the "habits and needs of a little-understood group" and which busted some myths in the process.

Evidently, introverts are "not necessarily shy" and "not misanthropic". However they "find other people tiring" - and are misunderstood and oppressed.

But the tide has turned and it seems that the introverts of the world are becoming more accepted, even popular and kind of edgy. The Internet's Love Affair With Introverts says their "glorious idiosyncrasies and private vexations are adorable". How Digital Technology Is Creating a World of Introverts says that the widespread adoption of social media has resulted in more introverts. Facebook, online courses, networking sites (such as LinkedIn) and online dating are reducing direct contact with other people.

Meanwhile at Psychology Today, the author of The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World hosts "The Introvert's Corner" which explores topics such as Introversion and the Teen Years, the Introvert-friendly Office - and whether we teach children to appreciate the benefits of solitude. It's said this groundbreaking book "helps and encourages introverts to embrace their nature, to respect traits they may have been ashamed of and reframe them as assets".

23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert says that even "the 'social butterfly' can ... have an introverted personality" and suggests people should "pay attention to whether they're losing or gaining energy from being around others" to gauge whether they're likely to be an introvert or extrovert.

I readily indentified with at least eight of the Huffington Post's 23 signs of being an introvert. They are:

You find small talk incredibly cumbersome
You go to parties - but not to meet people
Networking makes you feel like a phony
Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you
When you get on the subway, you sit at the end of the bench - not in the middle
You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything
You actively avoid any shows that might involve audience participation
You're a writer

According to Are the Brains of Introverts and Extroverts Actually Different?, Carl Jung wrote that "introverts get exhausted by social interaction, while extroverts get anxious when left alone". It also reports that "[m]odern psychologists have added a third category, the ambivert, a personality that combines both introverted and extroverted traits - for example, a ruthless lawyer or CEO who loves to lead but doesn't crave peer approval." And artistic people can "drift between introversion and extroversion throughout their lives ... either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines".

So with the potential for such fluidity between the two extremes it would seem that fully fledged introverts and extroverts are not quite as common as we first suspected. Our personalities are far more complicated and nuanced than the caricatures presented by pop psychology theories would lead us to believe.

Do you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert or ambivert? What are the characteristics of each? Is one better than the others - or just different?

Shelley Bridgeman

Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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