For a commoner, an introvert is a person who is lonely, shy and aloof with a lack of expression and with an aversion to communicate or mix around with others. But, such a picture is largely mythical. The fact is that introversion is frequently mistaken this way as awareness about it among common people is quite limited.
All thinking and feeling beings including the humans have to deal with two worlds – one built within their minds broadly by the closely connected people, along with the experiences they gain from the environment around, right from the early days of life, and the other being the external world that is available to them along with the close people, family, society, culture, belief and value systems, environment etc. Depending on the level of significance attached to these two worlds, one can be an extrovert or an introvert, though we do not find a perfect extrovert or a perfect introvert ever. Extroversion or introversion is to be assessed in a continuum between these two extreme but non-existent positions. When we try to understand the condition called introversion, we need to look at people who are relatively close to the point of total introversion in the extroversion-introversion continuum.
Introverts need not necessarily have to be the silent ones who are aloof and inexpressive. Yet for them, their inner world is precious even while they put up the difficult show that they love their external world very much too. Many introverts tend to get exhausted putting up this show and reach a situation in which they can no longer pretend about their discomfiture with the external world. Once this happens, it leads to upheavals in human relationships affecting the introvert as well as those who are expected to be closely connected, be it at work, in family, society or matrimony.
Introversion is a major personality trait and depending on its intensity, it can lead to distresses like in many personality disorders. Introverts seek mental and emotional stimulation from their own thoughts, ideas, moods, beliefs and feelings, unlike the extroverts for whom most of their joys and sorrows come from the external world. After being in an interaction with a group of people for some time, introverts would quietly withdraw into their inner world, to ‘recharge’, trying not to make it very obvious to others. But this pretension can be quite tedious for them as the fact remains that the introvert can get very ‘bored’ with external interactions, especially for a longer time.
Introverts are quite thoughtful, meticulous and detail-oriented with a higher ability to learn through observation. They are mostly self-conscious and tend to be achievement-oriented especially in the areas of their inner liking and preferences. On the other hand, they are not much expressive about their emotions and feelings and as such, they like to keep them very private. This makes it difficult for others to understand their state of mind. They are generally uncomfortable in large groups and among unfamiliar people while they tend to enjoy the company of the people who are closely connected to them. But such close people will be few. Even among them, they will have intense closeness only with the closest one or two. They feel drained out interacting with the not-so-close people especially when it has to happen out of social compulsions. They prefer jobs with lower demand for social interactions and high on independence. They will not be too elated in an environment of intense teamwork. They also have difficulties in adjusting with sudden changes and love to be in the stability of raw nature and the loneliness it offers.
Even while it will not be proper to believe that all introverts are more or less alike, people often mistake shyness and aloofness as introversion. The fact is that one can be an introvert and yet have outstanding social skills.
A certain degree of introversion is normal. However, if it starts affecting the normalcy of day-to-day living and ruins close relationships at the workplace or family, seeking professional help from a psychologist or psychiatrist may become necessary. But this does not happen in most cases, especially in the typical Indian scenario. While seeking to manage the condition, a great deal of self-analysis can drive an introvert to an inspirational process of inner changes towards extroversion in the light of the fact that personality is no longer considered as unchangeable. Even though sharing the high level of discomfiture with a mind-care professional can help resolve them, introverts find it difficult to do so, making them take damaging decisions in important matters including in careers and close relationships. For an introvert, the efforts to move towards extroversion should be conscious and constant. But many are unaware of this even as they fail to identify their introverted condition itself. The result sadly is a bunch of lifetime of agonies!