Caring for Your Introvert


“Hell is other people.” ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

I’ve been up to my ass in alligators this past week, with too much to do, and an absolutely action-packed schedule.  Not optimum for someone like me.

I still have about 60 papers to grade before I hit the classroom again on Tuesday.  I am a day late with this blog post. Filthy laundry is strewn here and there throughout the house.  I have managed to keep the kitchen in order, but only because for the past couple of days I was at an educational conference in north Phoenix where they provided all my meals.  I love learning from other teachers, but admittedly I find the whole being-around-other-people-thing exhausting.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I do.   It’s just that in order to actually function, I need more solitude than most people do.

Solitary but not lonely.

I need naps and time to watch the sky change color.  I need time to fall into a book and have adventures.  I need time to think and write and drink coffee and schlep around the house in my pajamas.  Other people are wonderful in small doses.  But without downtime by myself, I grow depleted very quickly.

Yes.  I am introvert.  An INFJ to be exact.


When I first took the Myers-Briggs personality test about 25 years ago, I was astounded at its accurate portrayal of who I was in my most secret, secret self.  I grew up in a household full of introverts (my mother and both my bothers are introverts.  We split between INTPs and INFJs.  My father was odd man out, an extrovert in a house full of bookish, solitary people.  No wonder he constantly went out for drives.)

My introversion affects all aspects of my life.  It makes me a good writer and a good teacher. However, it also makes me miserable in many situations that others enjoy.  Bar hopping.  Loud dance clubs.  Mall walking. Visiting Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  Talking during breakfast. Unless you are my lover and I am getting morning sex out of the deal, I don’t want to talk to anyone until I’ve had at least a pot of coffee.

However, I am not shy.

Because I have practiced my public speaking skills, I am perfectly comfortable speaking to large groups. I can and do freely share my ideas at conferences and in meetings.  I know how to manage and counsel people, handle crises, and work efficiently.  I am extremely creative and innovative.  I love learning and exploring cutting-edge ideas.  I am comfortable sharing feelings and expressing myself.  I simply don’t need to do these things in the middle of a Fiesta bar, wearing a sombrero, while dancing topless on a table.  (My image of extroverts is, I imagine, just as stereotyping as yours is regarding introverts.)  The truth of the matter is, we need all types of people to solve the problems we face individually and collectively. One brand or type of person is not superior to another. We all have a portion of what’s needed to bake up the solutions to things like global warming, sustainability, war, poverty and hunger.

I simply ask that you do not assume that the quiet person at the back of the room has nothing to contribute to the dialogue.

I won’t assume that all extroverts are whores for attention, if you don’t assume that all introverts are shaking in their boots unable to voice an opinion.

In fact, introverted individuals often have marvelous ideas!  Many of the items you currently take for granted (iPhones, iPods, most literary, medical, and scientific breakthroughs) were created by introverts.  We may represent only 1 – 4 percent of the population, but we are prodigiously productive and full of new ideas.

So, don’t overlook the introvert.

He or she may be harboring the idea that changes everything.

© 2013  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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6 thoughts on “Caring for Your Introvert

  1. This is really just “Caring for your human.”
    Don’t disrespect, embarrass, interrupt, change things without notice, deny friendship opportunities, etc. to *anyone*… or, do so at your peril, anyway. #1 thru #10 apply to everyone.

    As for #11: Don’t push anyone into doing things that aren’t in their nature.
    And #12: Don’t try to make anyone into someone they are not.

  2. Love it. I’m an introvert as well, who can also speak in front of groups, handle any crisis, enjoys being with people — up to a point. There comes a time when (usually at least once a day) when I need time alone. If I am cornered by too many social obligations for too many days in a row, I need to find a secluded place of solitude where I can be completely alone and just think. You nailed it. Good post. Thanks.

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