Sophia Dembling is the author of THE INTROVERT'S WAY: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World ($14, Perigree)
Chances are you only think you can pick the introvert out of the crowd.
You might think that because I am confident speaking in public, enjoy throwing parties, and can talk to just about anyone, I couldn't possibly be an introvert.
But I am.
A lot of people have the wrong idea about introversion and confuse it with shyness. But shyness and introversion are not the same. As described by one neuroscientist I spoke to, shyness is behavior: acting fearful in social situations. Introversion is motivation: low drive to participate in social situations. So while shy people might want to socialize but find it intimidating, introverts have the skills but can take or leave socializing.
Also, you can overcome shyness if you want. Introversion seems to be hardwired, and it doesn't need to be overcome. It's fine as it is.
You can be shy and introverted, but you also can be not shy and introverted. (Same with extroversion. Shy extroverts have a hard time of it.)And introversion-extroversion, like other traits, exists on a continuum; you can be very introverted (or extroverted) or just a little.
Jung defined introversion in terms of energy: Extroverts are energized by time with other people, introverts are drained by it and crave copious time alone. While this theory lacks any empirical backing (what is this "energy" and how do we measure it?), introverts know what it means. Science will just have to catch up.
Because I'm not shy and I do a fair amount of socializing, you might not guess I'm an introvert. But what you don't see is that after a weekend of socializing, I need several days of quiet solitude to recover.
Actually, so many people are confused about introversion, they don't even realize they themselves are introverts. I hear that all the time in comments on my blog, The Introvert's Corner. Wow! I thought I was just weird!
Don't know for sure if you're an introvert? Here are some clues that you might tip towards the introvert side of the scale.