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Why the World Needs Introverts

© Krista Stryker 2011
Did you know that around 60 to 70 percent of the world population considers themselves to be extroverted? 

(These numbers may vary and were based on none-scientific Googling, but still!)

That means that the majority of humankind is outgoing, and therefore tends to be energized by people, loves being around crowds, feels depressed when they don't have constant human interaction, etc.

What about the other 30 to 40 percent of us?

We are introverts.

I am an introvert.

This means I:

  • Feel most comfortable by myself
  • Though I enjoy interaction with others, need time to "recharge" after even a few hours of being with people 
  • Feel drained rather than energized by parties or large groups 
  • Am particularly selective about who I spend time and don't want to "waste" time with people I find uninteresting 
In short, I find being around people tiring.  Not that it's not worth it at times, but even the thought of being around too many people for too long makes me anxious.

Understanding introverts

To an extrovert, these qualities no doubt sound crazy.

Extroverts are adored by society, seen as loving, friendly, warm, approachable, etc.

Introverts are often misunderstood and even looked down upon because of their strange and perplexing qualities.  As Jonathan Rauch, well-known self-proclaimed introvert and correspondent for The Atlantic says, extroverts have little understanding of the introvert mentality:

"Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone; indeed, they often take umbrage at the suggestion."

Extroverts dominate the social scene.  They are better networkers.  They make friends quicker.  

I've often felt left out as an introvert.  I've never been an instant hit at a party.  I've never wowed the room with jokes.  I envy the people who do.

Rauch says being an introvert is even more difficult as a female, as women introverts are more likely to be perceived as timid, withdrawn or haughty.  

Damn, sometimes, I wish I was an extrovert.  

The world needs introverts

Over the past 24 years of my introverted existence, I've had many people tell me that I'm hard to approach.  That maybe I come off as being "snobby" at times.  I've never known how to change it - I'm simply a person who likes to observe, rather than initiate conversation.  I'm introverted.

Introverts think before they speak.  They are pitiful at small talk, gravitating instead toward meaningful conversation.  They often are able to more deeply understand others because they spend so much time observing them.  

In short: we need introverts.

Introverts listen.  They have quality conversations.  They feed the extroverts' need for attention.

But it's not easy to be an introvert.  

So if you're an extrovert, understand that the person next to you at a party might not be rude, snobby or even shy - they may be an introvert.

Understand that we have a place in this world, too.  

Though you may dominate most of public life, we are here, and we are making a difference in our own way.

And as Jonathan puts it: 

Being an introvert "it's not a choice.  It's not a lifestyle.  It's an orientation."

Read Jonathan Rauch's full article on introversion here.


  1. Wow. This is really amazing post, Krista. I felt like I was reading my own words. Throughout my life, people have told me they thought I was stuck up & hard to approach too. What? I don't get it. I just want to say - If only they'd take an extra second to talk, then they would get me. People misconstrue introverts. Just because we can talk to others well or speak in front of a room does not make us extroverts. It makes us polite. Then we'd like to go home after that, open up a good book and be left alone thankyouverymuch. :)

  2. Thanks Cat! Love your thoughts on the subject. It's always nice to meet a fellow introvert!