5 Surefire Ways to Know You’re an Introvert

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Image via Galit Breen

The day my husband realized that I’m an introvert changed our lives.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But it’s so true. Here’s why.

It was early-ish on a Saturday. The sun was bright, the kids were loud, and we had just come home from one too many things: One kid's soccer practice, another one's game, lunch with my in-laws, errands as a family.

My head was literally buzzing, my affect was flat, my eyes were starting to glaze over, my tone was terse. I was done.

My husband side-eyed me across our kitchen counter where our kids were inexplicably (to me) still going (and going). He tipped his head to the side and just watched me.

Right there and then, I could tell that he saw what I felt.

If this had been a movie, this would have been a pivotal scene. The space around us would have faded to a soft fuzz, music would have played, and a thought bubble would have slowly popped and formed above him with something like, “Ding!” printed inside of it.

None of that happened, of course, but what did happen was huge. My guy paused, tipped his chin to the side, and asked if I wanted to go rest.

I wanted to jump up and down and whoop and holler and kiss him right on the mouth because omg, he got me! But I didn’t. Of course I didn’t. I’m an introvert. I looked him in the eye, thanked him, hugged him, and moved faster up those stairs than I ever had before. Because: Alone time. 

I closed the door behind me and settled into complete quiet. I was full, to the brim and then some, of goodness and fun and chatter and friends. What I needed was time to rejuvenate alone.

This has become the defining factor in introversion — how do you rejuvenate, alone or with others? A marked difference from the old definition of “shy” or “antisocial”, it’s a good definition but it’s not complete. 

Even extroverts find themselves full and need down time. So, like many things, there is an extroversion-introversion spectrum where everyone falls. The amount of time you enjoy being on and busy and with others compared to the amount of time you enjoy being off and alone and quiet tell you where on this scale you fall.

Learning this about your loved ones is important. But learning this about yourself, is golden.

This has become the defining factor in introversion — how do you rejuvenate, alone or with others? A marked difference from the old definition of “shy” or “antisocial”, it’s a good definition but it’s not complete.

Life Coach and Solutions Consultant with LSS Harmony, Sophie Skover, says, “It’s so important to know your introvert or extrovert status because it can affect your perception of how you view the world and your life. If you're unaware of your introverted tendency and are always around people, you may find yourself completely exhausted and drained of all energy. If you know this, however, you can schedule in some alone time to recharge. Or, if you're an extrovert who works from home and doesn’t get out much, you may begin to feel bored and shut down. The awareness of this can show you have a need to maybe schedule one outside meeting a day to fill up and re-charge by being around other people. Once you're aware of your tendency you can plan and schedule accordingly to some of your inner needs. This can make your day — and life — run more smoothly!”

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What Skover points out is, indeed, life changing. Once you know something, anything, about what makes you tick — you can act on it and effect your own happiness. And understanding where you fall on the extrovert-introvert scale is a definite example of this.

Books such as Quiet and The Introvert’s Way go into depth about how an introvert’s brain works. It’s so very important to understand this about yourself and about others so below is a tip of the introverted iceberg.

Five Ways to Know (for sure) That You’re an Introvert

1. Mingling is hard. So are ice breakers. You can do both and often quite well. But they’re not your first choice. Ever.

2. Downtime is what you’re doing. And if you need to cancel plans with others to carve out time to quietly relax, then so be it.

3. You start to shut down after being active for too long. On and off times have to be cyclical for you. You have to bookend social times with quiet times. It’s just the way it is.

4. The phone is not your friend. You never call, you never answer. People who know you well email. Or text.

5. You’re constantly thinking. Your inner monologue is on overdrive. You’re often really observant. And sensitive This either makes people think you’re shy, smart, snobby, or an old soul.

What do you think?

5 Surefire Ways to Know You’re an Introvert

Galit Breen is the bestselling author of Kindness Wins, a simple guide to teaching your child to be kind online; the TEDx Talk, “Raising a digital kid without having been one”; the online course Raise Your Digital Kid™; and the Facebook group The Savvy Parents Club. She believes you can get your child a phone and still create a grass-beneath-their-bare-feet childhood for them. Galit’s writing has been featured on The Huffington Post; The Washington Post; Buzzfeed; TIME; and more. She liv ... More

Tell us what you think!

10 comments

  1. Emeri says:

    This is absolutely me.
    I hate talking on the phone. Answering machines and voicemail are my best friends. My hubby looks at my funny when I tell him I “can’t” answer the phone.
    Doing “things” exhaust me. I can only handle one big event or “thing” during a weekend day and I am done after that, and probably the next day as well. I get incredibly anxious when I have too many things planned and will probably cancel something so I can have “me” time.
    My best day is spent in my pj’s, cleaning my house or just hanging out with my 2 yr old daughter. I really don’t have much need for a lot of people in my life. It’s too much. I have one best friend and a few close friends and that’s all I can handle. I never understood how certain people could have so many friends and keep up with all of that!

  2. Debra says:

    I use to pay my younger sisters to make phone calls for me. Even today when I need to call someone from church to ask for something I am so glad to get an answering machine first to relay the message. I’m in women’s group and I usually go last to give my check-in. Hoping that they will forget me. I guess I’m kind of a wall-flower- I don’t want to be noticed.

  3. AhavaMama3 says:

    I’m an introvert for sure. The day I discovered it was golden and made me feel better about myself since my “introvertness” had been rejected by people close to me for so long. I’m the kind that can talk a lot but writing is much better for me. I definitely think ALOT… Too much! Large crowds especially with noise do a number on my brain and emotions. After allday or weekend long events I usually need a day or two to recover. Needless to say its bad when too much is going on. And someone talking to me too long with strong emotions overwhelm and drains me too. But accepting that I’m an introvert and making a few slight changes to help me better cope with people are very helpful.

  4. Shirley says:

    Oh my gosh, that’s me!! Lol!! I get sensory overload quickly and then I’m done. High pitched sounds feel like an assault on my neural system and if I can’t get away from it, I get really irritated and short tempered.

  5. Violet says:

    Yay! Now I know there is a term for myself.! Weirdly though I think my husband wishes he was an introvert, I think he is a closeted extrovert. He gets depressed after being home for a long time, and even though he doesn’t like large crowds or public places, I can tell his mood greatly improves after being out with friends (even going to work sometimes!)

  6. Christine says:

    I am an introvert. It is really difficult to be anything else. That private space and time is so important. If I don’t have it I feel like I am losing my mind. I become irritable and a bit irrational. Gosh, I didn’t think it was a case of introversion as I love being around people. It’s just that when it’s time for them to be gone I need for them to be gone. That’s it.

  7. Alison Lee says:

    I’m definitely an introvert – I hate the phone and I love my down time!

  8. gfeld says:

    Do you have to have all 5 things in order to be considered an introvert? Just wondering……

    • mommy nhoj says:

      Same thoughts. My husband is never good at mingling. He can do ice breakers in class ( he was a professor before) and we can really have a good time together – just the two of us. He was the first one to go home in a big party. He’s home buddy yet easily get bored. He used to hate calling until he met me. Though most of the times, calls were quick and pretty straight forward.

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