Bill Gates. JK Rowling. Meryl Streep. Mark Zuckerberg. Julia Roberts. Apart from being individuals who are world famous and have become household names, all five are introverts despite regularly being in the public eye. This week I was asked a question by one of my followers on Twitter which really made me think:
“Would you describe yourself as extrovert or introvert? Has it had an influence on your writing?” ~ @TheAS791
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been more inclined to introversion which often surprises people as I don’t come across as one. I attend a lot of networking events, quite like people, do public speaking, regularly go out on assignments, meet and work with new people; at a glance no one would ever think that I’m an introvert.
Before I carry on, I just want to clear up the difference between being shy and being introverted because I’m very aware that the two are often confused. Shyness comes about as a fear of social judgements and being excessively worried about it, whereas introversion is how you respond to different levels of stimulation. Although I am introverted, I’m definitely not shy!
An extrovert craves and is at their best in situations/environments where there is a very high level of stimulation (festival, party etc), whilst an introvert feels alive in environments with low levels of stimulation (in smaller groups, one-on-one conversations etc). For example: I generally have very quiet, low key birthdays which I spend with my family because I get overwhelmed and stressed at big events. In addition, it also saps me of a lot of energy and I often spend the weekend or a couple of days recuperating after a big do! Both personalities are normal and there is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. In addition, there is also a general 50/50 split between the number of men and women who identify as introverts. And just to boggle the mind more, there are more extroverts in the world than introverts.
“There is no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. Such a man would be in the lunatic asylum.” ~ Jung
I’m not sure whether or not my introverted nature has had an influence on my writing – perhaps it has. For as long as I can remember, I have always expressed my feelings and myself in writing. I remember being told that as a child I would sit and watch the world go by, observe people and then do uncanny imitations of them to my family. Some of my best written and general work has come about when I’ve been by myself; my concentration levels are higher than normal and I find that my imagination unleashes itself. I feel energised when I dive into an assignment, head down and just get on with it. So for me, my environment definitely has a big impact on my emotions, my level of writing/general work and my concentration.
For many years – and even now – I often felt like being introvert was a bad thing. I would get told off for being too sensitive, not talking enough and for coming across as rude, when the truth was that I was just never comfortable in many social situations. Over time, I’ve gradually learnt how to cope in such environments because they’re inescapable; open plan offices. A great book, which helped me massively, is Quiet by Susan Cain – I would recommend it anyone and everyone.
Ever wondered if you lean more towards introversion or extroversion? Please click to take the test to see where you come in on the introvert-extrovert scale.