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Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
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THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
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Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular

“Susan Cain is a closet extrovert.” 

— Unknown

So read the juvenile and snarky comment on introvert author and champion, Susan Cain’s blog. Susan’s heavy presence in the media (TED Talks, NPR, morning shows) during her book promotion (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking) made it seem like she thrived in the limelight and fed off constant interaction, much like an extrovert.  Still, I resented the insinuation that it is impossible to be popular, engaging, passionate and an introvert.

I know many who are drawn to solitude but are frequently sought out for coffee, dinner, roller derby, pillow talk, etc. Introverts are in demand. They are rarely lonely not only because they enjoy their own company but because others do as well.

Why do those who cherish alone time often have many friends and invitations?

Perhaps it’s a simple case of supply and demand.  Introverts love large swathes of free time.  Time with no plans except enjoying their own company — listening to music, reading, watching meaningful movies, meditating, writing, painting, resting, investigating life in-depth.  Securing and making time alone a priority leaves less time for socializing. Therefore any time available for interacting is precious. And anything precious is a must have.

Energized and Energizing

Why do some introverts seem like extroverts? Besides the pressure many of us feel to be outgoing and gregarious (the American way), there are other reasons why introverts exhibit extroverted energy.

Introverts love to go deep into subjects or work they find meaningful.  According to Susan Cain and Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, these core personal projects or passions allow an introvert to display extroverted abilities, such as large-scale socializing, public speaking or unbridled enthusiasm.  Valued work gives us purpose and energy via an intense connection with our feelings and impressions. Our imagination and intuition are tapped and spill out in the form of ideas and inspiration.  We are internally energized but in turn energize others with our passion, drive and excitement. We all know people who glow with energy and light.  We want to be with them. Want to feed off their buzz.

I’m sure this is the energy and enthusiasm Susan Cain demonstrated as she eagerly promoted the work she had dedicated seven years of her life to.  She wanted to help/support/empower other introspectives.  The value she found in this mission gave her energy and strength to chat away the days with talk show hosts and sign endless copies of her book.

My bet is that she returned home or to her hotel room at night and collapsed.  As exciting as her mission was, a key trait of introverts is to recharge in solitude.

Creativity and Community

Introverts are often thought of as disconnected or remote.  But there is something that bridges contemplative folks with their community.  Creativity.

True, introverts like to spend time in stillness without interruptions and hoards of people. But what do they do in this stillness?  Connect with themselves.  Find clarity regarding personal issues they are navigating. Go into a state of flow where ideas, feelings and associations come together to resolve conflict, reveal beauty or simply provide renewal.

Quite often these times of stillness produce creations that are helpful and valued by the community. Perhaps the  purpose of creating is not to express ourselves but to connect? Picture a road-weary truck driver who practices guitar at night in his cab and eventually becomes the truck-stop entertainment.  Or a broken-hearted baker who heals herself by silently kneading and rolling dough into the most delicate pastries.  Creativity, of course, does not always stem from sorrow. Imagine a blissful painter who spends hours alone in her studio caressing canvas with soft brush strokes. Or a dedicated psychiatrist who spends years researching and publishing the causes and treatment of catatonic schizophrenia. All of these scenarios ultimately provide gifts to the community.

Take a minute to recall how alive you feel after seeing an incredible movie or hearing an evocative song.

Creators are inspiring. They pique our interest.  They give us permission to expand beyond our daily ho-hum.  They display courage in their originality. They provide solutions. They make us feel less alone.

No wonder others want to know them, spend time with them and be like them.

There is also research suggesting that creativity is based on in-depth immersion in a topic AND collaborative interaction (Keith Sawyer, Does Solitude Enhance Creativity? A Critique of Susan Cain’s Attack on Collaboration).  Space for both introverts and extroverts to shine and work together for the greater good.  Another reason introverts are in demand.

Of course, extroverts are creative too but the purpose of this post is to show how introverts find popularity despite their penchant for alone time.

Introverts aren’t all disconnected loners. Many are quite popular. Some are even confused for extroverts.

Know any popular introverts? Why do you enjoy hanging out with an introvert?

If you liked this post, you might also like:

How to Be Lively, Energetic and Vibrant When Your True Nature Is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent (space2live)

What’s Wonderful? Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking -space2live

Introverts and Creativity: A Critique of Susan Cain’s Argument – Professor Michael Roberto’s Blog

Gifts, Connections & Community (Part 2) – Keith Jennings Wandering and Wondering the Creative

**There is a new temperament title that is gaining notoriety.  The ambivert.  An ambivert is someone who falls basically dead center in the introvert-extrovert continuum.  Anyone know someone who may qualify as an ambivert?  Some days I wonder if I am more of an ambivert than an introvert.

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  1. lissa March 16, 2014 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    I love your posts. I would not consider myself in introvert, but my fiancée definitely falls into that category. I love him, but sometimes I don’t know if it is his introverted nature or maybe a sign of our relationship, but space seems to be trumping any and all plans we make. I don’t want to box him in and I don’t want to box me out. Finding our paths together is becoming harder and harder. Any suggestions on finding balance in this kind of relationship?

  2. […] Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular (space2live) […]

  3. […] guys, Heres another link tell me what you think: Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popula… – I haven't read most of it so Im not saying I agree […]

  4. Hyrum Feriante November 16, 2013 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    When serving a mission for my church we were within sight and sound of our companion (who changed every 6-12 weeks) 24 hours a day for two years. We woke, prayed, and studied together then went out and talked to people and worked with people 12-13 hours a day then came home planned and went to bed, only to do the same thing the next morning for two years. After I had completed my mission and came home I spent several months recovering in my room or in the woods (or anyplace else with no people), I have never felt so tired in my life. No one I served with would have ever have thought to guess as to whether I’m an introvert, I could out talk any of them. When I served as an Armorer in the USMC I had access to all the social skills I learned on the mission, and took full advantage of them to get things done. I also taught classes to hundreds of people at a time on a regular basis and was able to keep everyone’s attention even on the most dry material (how to fill out MORE paperwork) Everyone took it that I was a super social guy and I was invited to a lot of stuff. Four years of this would have been hell but unlike the mission I had a steel reinforced concrete bunker all to myself (and thousands of guns). No one got in without my opening the door for them (intruders were shot without question) and I have never since been so immersed in silence and solitude as I was in those times between classes. The few times I tried to explain to others what an introvert was and why I didn’t want to come to the party, no one would believe me, so I would make up a reason to go to work on the week-ends then unplug the phone.

    • Brenda Knowles November 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      I can relate to the exhaustion post mission. I felt the same way after 10 years of being home with 3 children. I could never recover. Just as I had the kids taken care of my husband would come home and want my attention. I loved them all but I was on empty. They all took my need for space personally. I needed a reinforced concrete bunker.;) During those years I volunteered at the school, volunteered for the juvenile justice system and had lots of friends. I was not a quiet wall-flower. The volunteering was meaningful so it gave me energy. My friends provided much needed deep conversations.

      I hope you have found a good blend of space and community Hyrum. I am establishing boundaries and finding a new path. Thanks for sharing so candidly. Always a pleasure to hear your insight.

  5. […] Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular […]

  6. […] Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popular […]

  7. Caterina July 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I scored a perfect 50 on the introvert/extrovert test in high school. My counselor didn’t believe it, and made me retake the test. I scored 50 again. I am an ambivert!

    • brennagee July 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Interesting. You can float in all pools of people then? Do you volley back and forth between socializing and solitude? I do that because it’s expected in our society. I recharge in solitude. How do you gain energy?

  8. Lois Olson July 18, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    I’m definitely an introvert with a daughter who is an ambivert. What’s so cool about that is that she totally understands my need for quiet and hours to myself to contemplate.

    Although I love one-on-one time with my friends, especially the ones that love to have deep conversations and have quiet, creative natures, I’m always glad to come home and recharge.

    The last 3 months I’ve had to be out-and-about so often due to appointments that I’ve felt unsettled and rattled, desperately needing time at home to “just be.” For the first time in 3 months, I have 4 days in a row where I don’t have to be anywhere. That’s heaven to me and much needed time to recharge.

    I’m so glad to know that there are many others out there that feel as I do and have such a rich inner world of imagination.

    I’m not sure I know an introvert that others think is an extrovert although I’ve had others say to me that I’m not shy, which is what I always thought I was until I realized I was an introvert. So it’s possible they see me as one. But it always surprises me if they do.

    • brennagee July 19, 2013 at 12:36 pm - Reply

      I relate to so much of what you said. I require a break from even my most beautiful, “get me”, friends. There is no way to recharge and sift through my thoughts if I am surrounded by people and distractions.

      I hope you enjoy your 4 day respite. May you return to the world whole, with all loose end knit up.:)

      Celebrate your and your daughter’s introspectiveness. There is a richness in it.

  9. Casey Sheridan July 18, 2013 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Wonderful post!
    I know there are some creative people that I talk to that fill me with energy and excitement, that I just wait to create. And I know there have been times, when talking to a particular friend, my excitement for something I’m writing, and the ideas I have to promote it, give him energy and inspiration as well.
    I know when I’m writing, or designing/making jewelry, it’s in silence and I’m totally immersed in what I’m doing. The slightest interruption shocks me because it pulls me out of my own head.
    I have to be, or try to be, an extrovert when doing book promotion and it’s hard. I always feel I’m not doing it right because I’m such a quiet person (although you wouldn’t think so here – lol), but ask me about my writing, or about my jewelry, and I can talk your ears off.
    Not sure I know any ‘popular’ extroverts.

    • brennagee July 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm - Reply

      I can definitely feel your creative light as you talk about your writing. It’s inspiring and great to experience. I think you are promoting yourself just right. Happy we connected.:)

  10. lawliett79 June 23, 2013 at 10:53 am - Reply

    It gets really painful for me to connect with people; I don’t feel as if I belong at all. I’ve known for years that I’m an introvert, a shy one at that. It’s a terrible combination. Besides shy, I have very low self esteem and am deemed by many people as ‘anti-social’ (no, they do not know the actual meaning of ‘anti-social’, they only mean that I ‘do not seem to enjoy company’).

    Been trying hard to work on it for years, but still fail miserably. I wonder if it is because I cannot accept being an introvert? When 99.9% of the people around you are your polar opposites, it’s hard not to feel a social misfit.

    I speak really poorly (short tongue) but write really well :X

    Glad I stumbled across your blog, and hope that the more I delve into it, the more answers I can find, for myself. (and the people around me)

    • brennagee June 24, 2013 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      I’m so happy you found space2live and thank you for taking the time to share your story so honestly. Shyness or social anxiety is different from but often associated with introversion. I think you already know that but I want to make it clear for other readers.

      Susan Cain, author of, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, estimates that 50% of the world are introverts. Many people play at being extroverts because they feel that is culturally more acceptable (I’d like to change that belief). What I’m getting at here is that you are probably surrounded by introverts. I don’t want you to feel like a social misfit. You are obviously very good at expressing yourself, perhaps as you said, better in writing than in speaking. I am the same way. Writing gives me the chance to articulate clearly because I can edit as I go. Such a lovely thing!

      If you excel at writing may I suggest starting a blog. You can control who views it. I think having an outlet for expression and a place to connect with like-minded people would give you a beautiful self-esteem boost. Writing is my therapy and I have made many rewarding relationships through it. I am in no way suggesting that you need to change yourself. I just think you need to find acceptance within yourself and within your immediate social circles. Your internal insight leads me to believe you have a lot to offer. Don’t look to external sources for validation. You are you and that is a gift. No one else like you.


    • Lily July 17, 2013 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Lawliett your comment could have been written by me. I so identify with what you have written & am desperate to feel normal. Perhaps we could share our experiences with each other?

  11. Andy Mort (@atlumschema) May 6, 2013 at 8:51 am - Reply

    This post was an absolute pleasure to read. Poetic. You’ve got it spot on re: creativity and community. And what I’ve found is that in solitude I find stuff that I become passionate about and love to connect with people and talk about too. It’s that stuff that leads to something like subject-authority and ‘popularity’ with things that we grapple with and engage in (Susan Cain is a prime example of that). Thanks for everything you write on this subject.

    • brennagee May 6, 2013 at 11:16 am - Reply

      I just re-read Keith Sawyer’s article (link in my post) critiquing Susan Cain’s assumptions about group-think and creativity. He says there absolutely has to be solitude AND collaboration for creativity to blossom. The longer I write the more I see this to be true. I write to connect with a community. I need space or solitude in order to hear my inner voice and make or recombine ideas.
      Thank you for gently nudging me to revisit this combination. If I really get down to it, I believe these are the three main ingredients to contentment – solitude, creativity, connection.

  12. Amy Dionne (@HeartOfAutumn) April 13, 2013 at 9:15 am - Reply

    Oh my, yes. Thank you for posting. I can seem extroverted at times – I have no problem with performance or public speaking, and enjoy being with people. At the end of the day though I have to recharge. I am drained after days I’ve been around people and retreat.

    • brennagee April 14, 2013 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Yes, that’s how I am, although I have to be uber prepared in order for public speaking to even be a possibility. I love people, especially ones who enjoy meaningful conversation. I soak them up and then go home and let myself spill into a few quiet hours. Thanks for commenting and reading.:)

  13. […] Introverts Do It Passionately and Creatively: How It’s Possible to Love Solitude and Be Popula… ( […]

  14. 3D Eye April 29, 2012 at 3:16 am - Reply

    There are so many interesting ideas here. Particularly your comments about ambiverts. Maybe most of us are ambiverts who need regular times for contemplation, reflection & meditation, but also need plenty of time for lively and not so lively interaction with family, friends and work colleagues. It’s possible that there are very few people in the world who are at the extremes of the continuum from social to unsocial, or impersonal to personal.

    • brennagee April 29, 2012 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      I intend to do some more investigating regarding the “ambivert” temperament. I have read that we all get more sensitive to stimulation as we age, which would cause us to feel more introverted later in life. Marti Olsen Laney, author of Introvert Advantage, said temperament is based on how we get energized. I still get more energy from going internal. I also find myself drained after high levels of interaction with people for long periods of time. I love people and meaningful conversation but prefer small groups.
      I do think there is something to the work and renewal idea. It’s good to interact and be part of a community but then it is heaven to step away and reflect.

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