Introverts often get overlooked in favor of those with a strong presence and quick wit. Watch any coming-of-age movie, and you’ll find that there’s almost always an introvert teenager labeled as “weird”.
I get it. As an introvert myself, I’ve been called weird more times than I count. In fact, it’s my official title in my family – “the weird one”.
I say, no, we’re not weird. We’re just misunderstood. I guess “weird” is just a name people default to when they don’t take the time to understand something.
The funny thing is, the so-called weird habits of introverts are doing them a favor – they’re actually making them smarter!
Let’s take a look at how that works out…
1) Reading for hours
Alright, reading isn’t exactly weird on its own. What does look weird to other people is just how much introverts like to do it.
Like, why would you want to shut out the rest of the world for hours on end?
Hmm…maybe because there are lots more “worlds” in books?
Kidding aside, there’s no denying that this habit makes not just introverts, but anyone who does it, smarter. Reading boosts brain power in so many ways:
- It expands our vocabulary
- It promotes problem-solving
- It develops creativity and imagination
And that’s just to name a few!
Look at your circle of friends. Is there anyone who seems to listen more than they speak? Or maybe you’re that person?
Obviously, listening more than they speak is firmly an introvert habit. And it’s one that makes them smarter because it means they’re constantly learning from the conversations around them.
As an introvert, I can say that I enjoy listening more than speaking, and I make a real effort to have conversations with people who can teach me something new.
And that makes me a little bit choosy, which brings me to my next point…
3) Choosing social engagements carefully
Just this morning, I was talking with a fellow introvert friend about our daily routines.
We had a good laugh about how much we choose to stay home, to the point that our lives would probably look so boring from the outside.
The thing is, introverts have a limited social battery. Most of them (or us) like talking to people just like any extrovert, but in moderation.
Too much, and they feel drained.
So, they need to be selective, to make each interaction count. This makes them smarter because the connections they make are deeper and more meaningful.
Conversations go beyond shallow small talk and become real avenues for learning new viewpoints and insights.
In short, it’s quality over quantity.
4) Preferring deep conversations to small talk
Unfortunately, that preference for depth is something that strikes a lot of people as odd.
After all, it can kind of take someone aback when you’ve just met them and you want to talk about things like purpose, philosophy, or spirituality.
I’m sure you know what I mean.
If you’re an introvert yourself, you may have had your share of raised eyebrows or people slowly backing away from you because they’re not into those kinds of topics.
But like I said, your social battery is short. Digging deeper is simply your way to get more done in less time.
And sure, some people may not be up for that, but that’s okay. In a way, it’s kind of a filter that helps you tell right away which connections are worth making, isn’t it?
5) Enjoying your own company
I think that this is one of the main reasons why even my family finds me weird. From childhood to adolescence to adulthood, I’ve always been hiding away in my own little corner of the house.
I watch movies, eat in restaurants, go to the mall like everyone else. But I enjoy doing it alone.
In fact, I have a weekly date with myself in a bookshop-cum-coffeeshop I like to frequent. (And after each date, I say, thanks for the treat, self! That was fun!)
Does this make me smarter? I like to think so.
Psychotherapist Amy Morin talks about this in Forbes. Among the many benefits of solitude, it helps to:
- Increase empathy
- Spark creativity
- Develop self-awareness
- Build mental strength
- Boost productivity
And you know what? As contradictory as it sounds, having those moments of solitude is also what helps introverts improve their relationships!
6) Being an independent thinker
Not jumping on whatever bandwagon’s moving right now. Not following trends.
This is actually connected to the introvert’s need for solitude – it’s a tool not just for recharging their social battery, but also to refine their ways of thinking.
I’d like to make two points here:
First, spending too much time with other people can lead to a “we vs. them” mentality. We don’t set out to be that way, but it’s just something that tends to happen without us noticing it.
Introverts have an advantage in that sense because spending time alone creates some healthy distance or detachment. This allows them to consider and be compassionate for everyone else outside of that circle.
And second, introverts use time alone to get in touch with themselves and know what they truly think, outside of the noise of the crowd.
So, they could come across as weird because they don’t automatically agree with popular opinion. But if you ask me, that’s the smarter way to live life!
7) Taking a while before answering
Some introverts have a habit of pausing before they respond in conversations, which can sometimes be misinterpreted as social awkwardness or weirdness.
And while that may be true in some cases (like with shy introverts), it’s likely because introverts like thinking before speaking. They like giving well-thought-out and substantial answers.
It can be a little disconcerting for the other person, who doesn’t know what to do with the dead air. Or wondering why it’s taking forever to get an answer.
But taking a beat before speaking is simply a way to add value to the conversation.
Plus, they just can’t help it – a Harvard study found that introverts’ brains tend to have thicker gray matter than extroverts’.
Not only that, but they also showed more activity in the frontal lobes, where rational thought and analysis take place.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s always quality over quantity. That goes for their thoughts as well.
Okay, not every introvert does this, but to some extent, there will be a level of planning if one is an introvert.
For instance, people find it weird that I have a timetable and a few plans for going to a party. Aside from knowing ahead of time what time I’ll arrive and leave, I also have a loose idea of where I’ll sit and whom I’ll sit next to.
Does that sound like I overthink? Maybe.
But it helps me feel in control of a situation that could be overwhelming for me. That way, I can keep the chaos down to a manageable level so I can be at my best while I’m there.
9) Introspective pursuits
Like painting. Gardening. Or reading, like I mentioned earlier.
To others, the hobbies of an introvert can seem weird. Again, it begs the question, “Why on earth would you want to spend that much time alone?”
Introverts rarely choose people-facing hobbies because well, that’s just not how they’re built.
But the good side is that the introspective nature of their interests do much in the way of sharpening and enriching their minds.
With these solitary pursuits, their minds can wander and explore. They can engage in the kind of deep thinking that can:
- Enhance problem-solving abilities
- Expand their understanding of the world
- Unlock creativity
- Improve memory and focus
Put like that, it’s pretty similar to the way an athlete trains their body for sports; it’s just that the training is more mental than physical.
The introvert’s life is full of habits that might seem strange at first glance but actually make a lot of sense when you think about them.
And as you can see, they are habits that actually enrich their minds and inner world.
If you’re an introvert who’s often getting grief for being the way you are, that’s okay. You gotta do what you can to stay recharged and fulfilled in a world that demands you to stay on all the time.
But you probably already know this. Of course you do, you’re introspective! That quality of yours might be weird to other people, but it’s definitely one that can only do you a whole lot of good.ca