This is from an internet search I did yesterday:

It’s my experience that the (Western) world has been shaped mostly by extraverts and that, consequently, those of us who identify more with the traits of introversion, or are on the cusp between the two (ambiverts), can find it a tough place to navigate at times.

In her book ‘Quiet‘ (which I love), Susan Cain talks about the different levels of stimulation required, and able to be tolerated, by introverts and extraverts and the ‘extrovert ideal’. She quotes William White:

“Society is itself an education in the extrovert values,

and rarely has there been a society that has preached them so hard.

No man is an island, but how John Donne would writhe to hear how often, 

and for what reasons,

the thought is so tiresomely repeated.”

Socially, and in the worlds of business and entertainment, it seems to me that the behaviour traits of extraverts are generally more highly valued than those of us that might be quieter and who prefer to remain on the periphery rather than be in the centre of things or in the spotlight.

There’s a TED talk: ‘Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality’ by Brian Little which I also really like where he explains what introversion is like for him. If (as I have) you’ve ever taken a few minutes ‘out’ during a conference or social event (in a quiet area or even a toilet cubicle) just to be able to breathe or rest awhile, you’ll get it!

He also refers to the link between introversion and levels of stimulation and that introverts are capable of acting in an extraverted way – and extraverts can sometimes be quiet, too. Both of which I can relate to in how I apply the introversion and extraversion preferences when I use MBTI.

Introversion often gets confused/conflated with shyness and a lack of courage – and they’re not the same thing.

As Susan Cain explains when discussing Rosa Parks:

“… What does it mean to be quiet and have fortitude?”

and, more generally:

“… the shy person is afraid to speak up,

while the introvert is simply overstimulated

– but to the outside world, the two appear the same.”

Which isn’t to say that some introverts aren’t also shy – but not all of them. And in my experience, courage tends to depend upon the individual and the situation – for extraverts as well as introverts.

And, in the same way that not all extraverts are the same, neither are introverts – we’re all individuals.

If you’re interested in shyness in particular, you might like the BBC article: ‘Why we should celebrate shyness’ by David Robson – in which one of the things he mentions is:

“… the so-called ‘esprit de l’escalier’ (staircase wit)

– the tendency, after we have left the room,

to replay what we should have said.”

I can certainly relate to that one!

Introverts can often be perceived as ‘loners’ because they need time by themselves to recharge – and because they enjoy being alone. Another good article on this, and its links to creativity in particular is: ‘Why being a loner may be good for your health’ by Christine Ro.

There’s a strong pull to ‘fit in’ socially and at work – not be different, stand out, make a stand – that can be hard to resist and to balance with our own authenticity.

This is especially true if we’re ascribing to the socially acceptable/popular ideas of success rather than defining them for ourselves – see my earlier blog: ‘Success – on whose terms?

For example, many people measure success in terms of popularity – by how many friends a person has – but I like what Ro says in her article about relationships:

“As with many things, quality reigns over quantity.

Nurturing a few solid relationships

without feeling the need to constantly populate your life with chattering voices

ultimately may be better for you.”


This ties in with a quote I like from Christopher Morley:

“There is only one success –

to be able to spend your life in your own way.“


And this one, from Herman Hesse, resonates strongly with me, too:

“Within you there is stillness and sanctuary

to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”