The Quiet Power Of Introverts


I am an introvert and I love it. And I'm not alone. Introverts are everywhere, and our quiet approach to life, our need for solitary time, isn't a flaw - it's a gift. But as an introvert it's not always easy to realise how wonderful you are.

The world feels like a place that rewards extroverts. Where being loud is mistaken for being confident and happy. Where everyone has something to say, but nobody listens. A world of open-plan offices, networking parties, and big personalities. For those who speak softly, it's easy to feel left out.

As a child, I blended into the background. Many thought that I had little to say or that I simply didn't like others. But that wasn't true. People often think that introverts are shy, or antisocial. But these are misconceptions.

Introverts, like anyone, can find socialising fun. But while parties leave extroverts energised, after some time, introverts need to recharge... away from everyone.

There is a scientific theory for this. There are two important chemicals found in all our brains -dopamine and acetylcholine. Dopamine is like a hit of energy when we take risks or meet new people -and it makes extroverts feel great. But introverts are more sensitive to dopamine and get quickly over-stimulated.


That's why we prefer the more slow-burn feeling we get when our brains release acetylcholine. That happens when we concentrate, read, or focus our minds. It makes us introverts feel relaxed, alert and content. But it barely registers with extroverts.

Of course, like anything, it's a sliding scale. You can lean one way or another. Or be a bit of both -known as an ambivert.

Now I understand myself better, I am deeply grateful for how I am. Instead of filling up space with small talk, I listen patiently and make my words matter. I have few friends but our connection is deep.

I love spending time alone. It's where the chaos of a long day can finally settle. I can reflect and listen to my thoughts, and eventually reconnect with myself. Only after that am I ready to share with the world again.

I have learnt strategies for finding comfort in our noisy world -from using music to create bubbles of peace, to escaping to a quiet park at lunchtime. I adore the intensity and chaotic beauty of the world. But it's in quiet spaces where I feel truly at home.

If introversion were more valued by society, it could make a massive difference to our collective future. The unique attributes of introverts really are a deep, quiet strength.

And as Gandhi, put it, "In a gentle way, you can shake the world."

Transcript provided by BBC Ideas.

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