My overriding passion is to encourage people to cherish, celebrate, raise awareness about, and discuss individual differences. It is OK to be different, to feel differently. One group of people, gifted introverts, is not only misunderstood and overlooked, but the people in it are also often saddened because there is confusion or a lack of understanding about their characteristics and needs. One misunderstanding is that introversion is mistaken for shyness. Introverts draw their energy from being solitary, and are private people who enjoy doing things by themselves and who reveal their innermost thoughts to only a few. They need to first process, plan, and react privately and internally before responding. In contrast, shy people are afraid of others, especially those who seem emotionally threatening, and retreat for emotional safety, not to re-energize.
I believe there are marked distinctions between true introversion, shyness, extroversion, and sociability. There is also overlap – introverts can be shy or sociable or somewhere in between. A shy introvert finds it extremely difficult to interact outside of a select, small community and enjoys isolation. A sociable introvert develops a safe outward persona to be with people, share of themselves, and maintain their personal safety. They find it relatively easy to learn effective social skills.
There is a Sarah MacLachlan song called Elsewhere which has a refrain that says:
I believe this is heaven to no one else but me
and I’ll defend it long as I can
to be left here to linger in silence if I choose to
would you try to understand
I see this as a sort of mantra for introverts: they need time to linger alone in silence and they need others to respect that need.
We have several articles on the SENG site which discuss introversion and personality development. Check these out:
- Introversion: The often forgotten factor impacting the gifted
- “Play Partner” or “Sure Shelter”: What gifted children look for in friendship
- A Synthesis of Research on Psychological Types of Gifted Adolescents
In July of 2004, Sharon Lind was past-president of SENG and had served on the SENG Board for four years.