“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.” ~Susan Cain
We live in a culture that celebrates extroversion and sees introversion as a weakness or something to overcome.
If you’re an introvert, you may have grown up believing there was something wrong with you. You may not even have realized there’s a word for your personality type, that 26 to 50 percent of the population falls under that umbrella, and that our brains are actually wired differently than extroverts’ brains.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute (which sounds like the coolest place in the world to work), it all boils to down to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
When our brains release dopamine, we feel more motivated to strive for external goals and rewards, like a raise or an ever-widening social circle. Though we all have the same amount of dopamine in our brains, the reward center is more active in extroverts. That’s why an extrovert might feel energized and excited anticipating a social event, while introverts might feel over-stimulated.
We introverts rely on a different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which makes us feel good whenever we turn inward—something we’re much better able to do in calm environments, with minimal external stimulation.
Yes, I said “we.” I’m a proud deep thinking, quiet-time needing preferrer of profound conversations over small talk. I’d rather dissect the meaning of life on a rooftop below a starry night, with one close friend by my side, than scream over loud music amid a rowdy crowd at a party or in a bar.
For years, I felt like a loser because I have fewer friendships than most and spend more time alone. But it’s not that I’m less likable than other people (or at least, I hope that’s not true). It’s just that I detest forced socialization, superficial relationships, and feeling the pressure to ‘perform’ for a group.
While I’m beyond relieved to finally recognize my personality type isn’t a character flaw, I appreciate when the people around me understand and value my nature as well. And I know I’m not alone.
I recently asked the introverts within Tiny Buddha Facebook community what they wish people understood about them, and their responses all sounded like pieces of my own internal monologue. Below, I’ve shared a small selection of the 1,000+ comments that came in.
If you’re an introvert, this list might put into words what you’ve…