If you break down the Latin, intro means inward and vert means turn. But just because we introverts are often preoccupied with our own thoughts, that doesn't mean we hate the world around us; we simply prefer to engage with it differently.
Introversion is commonly misunderstood because it's the minority of the American population, says Sharon Peters, a writer who's studied the topic.
But it's especially important in college for introverts to know that they're not freaks for wanting to stay in with a good book, and it's equally important for extroverts to understand the introverts around them. (If you're not sure which type you are, take the Myers-Briggs personality indicator test at tinyurl.com/2pcgss.)
So to help introverts and extroverts alike, here are five kernels of truth about introversion:
• Introverts don't speak unless they feel what they have to say is important.
"Extroverts have a tendency to share half-formed ideas, but introverts need time to process so the idea they're sharing is fully formed," says Peters. Silence is normal. It makes us great listeners, which is why extroverts tend to seek us out.
• Introverts become easily exhausted from social interaction.
This doesn't mean that we hate being around people, but that extended exposure drains the energy we get from being alone. Introverts simply need time to recharge, so we rarely agree to attend eight campus events in a row.
• Introverts thrive in solitude.
The mind of an introvert is a wild and stormy place, and the best way to deal with it is to be alone. There is so much internal activity that it makes perfect sense for an overdose of external stimulation to be too much to handle.
• Introverts need time to observe before involving themselves.
"Introverts see details and draw conclusions about what is going on in front of them in ways that can be very important," says Peters. So we need time to process and consider all possible outcomes before we can commit ourselves to that upcoming game of ultimate Frisbee, or the new karaoke club.
• Introverts do not have a condition that needs to be cured.
It is a completely normal way of being, and both extroverts and introverts are needed in any place where there is going to be creativity and productivity.