My mom is the life of the party! She is fascinated by everyone she meets and is truly interested in knowing about their lives. She can become friends with perfect strangers in no time and finds meeting new people energizing. She is among the majority of people that we call “extroverts”. They are energized by interacting with others.
Did you know that “introverts” are energized by their inner world of ideas? Introverts are not necessarily shy people. They may be very outgoing and friendly. They enjoy people and activities almost as much as their extroverted friends. So what is the real difference? Introverts are refueled by being alone. They need quiet time, time to reflect and play with their ideas. When they are with people, they lose energy quickly; it flows out of them. Their more extroverted friends get their energy from people and activities. Without people and activities they feel lethargic and less fulfilled. It takes an introvert a long time to restore the energy they lost at a gathering, so they have to plan time to refuel for the next activity.
There are other ways introverts and extroverts differ. For introverts, fun from outside stimulation can end in a split second. All of a sudden their energy is gone and they are done, sometimes with little warning. When they are done, there is no energy left. Another difference is that introverts like depth in activities, subjects they are interested in, and in their relationships with people. They prefer to know a few people well. Extroverts look forward to meeting a lot of people and don’t need to know them well to call them friends. For extroverts, the variety is energizing.
Introverts are in the minority and often are made to feel that being alone or being exhausted by a lot of stimulation is somehow a character flaw or even a disability. Be assured that your introverted friends and family prefer to relax with a few friends or spend a quiet evening at home reading or thinking. They consider only deep relationships as friendships, talk in depth about topics you have in common, appear calm, like to observe, and don’t like feeling rushed. Respect their quiet time because they are refueling for tomorrow.
Reference: The Introvert Advantage, Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.