Introvert and extrovert are basic personality types that arose from the theories of the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung in 1910. Jung defined introversion as an “orientation in life through subjective psychic contents,” and extroversion as a “concentration of interest on the external object.” In other words, introverts tend to be directed inwards toward their own thoughts and feelings, while extroverts focus their attention outwards toward other people and the outside world.
In reality, most people are not wholly one or the other, instead falling somewhere between Jung’s two types. This is known as ambiversion. Ambiverts more or less have a balance between introversion and extraversion, with either tendency becoming more dominant depending on the situation.
Being an introvert and being shy are often considered synonymous, but that’s not always the case. An introvert might not be keen on going to a party with a large group of people, but could be perfectly happy having a conversation with just one person or a small group, even if they are strangers. Still, introverts are more likely to enjoy solitary activities such as reading and writing. And while extroverts actively seek out social gatherings and thrive when around other people, introverts often reach a stage where socializing becomes a mental and/or physical drain, at which point they seek solitude to relax and recharge. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that: The benefits of spending time alone are important for anyone, as these quotes from famous figures attest.
Nowhere can man find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in his own soul.
– Marcus Aurelius
Nothing can be accomplished without solitude. I have made a kind of solitude for myself which nobody is aware of.
– Pablo Picasso
How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.
– Virginia Woolf
Be a loner. That gives you time to wonder, to search for the truth. Have holy curiosity. Make your life worth living.
– Albert Einstein
Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone — that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.
– Nikola Tesla
The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.
– Aldous Huxley
I restore myself when I’m alone.
– Marilyn Monroe
Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.
– John Green, author
Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.
– Jenn Granneman, author
There is a tremendous difference between alone and lonely. You could be lonely in a group of people. I like being alone. I like eating by myself. I go home at night and just watch a movie or hang out with my dog. I have to exert myself and really say, oh God, I’ve got to see my friends because I’m too content by myself.
– Drew Barrymore
At school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell” — that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go and some humans are just the same.
– Susan Cain, lecturer and author
I didn’t want to be an actor, because I thought an actor had to be an extrovert — somebody who loved to tell jokes and talk and be a raconteur. And I was something of an introvert.
– Clint Eastwood
I see enough of humanity at the racetracks, the supermarkets, gas stations, freeways, cafes, etc. This can’t be helped. But I feel like kicking myself in the ass when I go to gatherings, even if the drinks are free. It never works for me. I´ve got enough clay to play with. People empty me. I have to get away to refill.
– Charles Bukowski
Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.
– Paulo Coelho, author
I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.
– Bill Gates