Jan. 2 is World Introvert Day. Although not an official holiday, World Introvert Day has been celebrated by introverts around the world since 2011. It’s not a coincidence that World Introvert Day falls immediately after New Year’s Day; the idea is for introverts to take time to recharge after the chaos of the holiday season. No more forced socializing and uncomfortable small talk in the name of being festive. World Introvert Day is all about pajamas and Netflix.
World Introvert Day is also a time to bring awareness to introversion — and remember why introversion is something awesome, not shameful. So here are 12 reasons to celebrate introverts on this day (and really, every day of the year):
1. Introverts really know their stuff. I have an introverted friend who is basically a walking encyclopedia of Celtic myth. For example, if you ask him about the hero Cú Chulainn, he can not only tell you how he died but also what kind of chariot he drove around in. Listening to him talk, I’ve found myself thinking, “Wow, he really knows his stuff!” That’s because introverts love learning and adding to their vast stores of specialty knowledge. It’s no surprise that introverts often become experts in their field.
2. Introverts are problem-solvers and idea-generators. Introverts tend to gravitate toward working alone. We’re the ones quietly sitting at our desks, turning ideas over and over in our mind. And there’s a benefit to this. When you’re with other people, your brain is forced to multitask. Even if you’re not interacting with someone, part of your attention is occupied just by their mere presence, research suggests. But when you’re alone, you can clear your mind and focus your thoughts. And all this deep, concentrated thinking can lead to novel solutions and brilliant ideas. So forget the brainstorming group. Take a cue from introverts and work alone, because “decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas,” according to psychologist Keith Sawyer.
3. Give up? Not yet. Speaking of problem solving, introverts tend to stick with problems longer — well past when everyone else has moved on to another topic or gone home for the day. Albert Einstein, the world-renowned physicist who developed the theory of relativity, was probably an introvert. He once said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
4. Introverts make better team players than extroverts over the long run. That’s right. Corinne Bendersky and her colleagues found that while extroverts make great first impressions, they may disappoint us over time when they’re a part of a team. Their “value and reputation at work diminish over time,” explains Bendersky. “On a team you’re expected to work hard and contribute a lot. But they’re often poor listeners, and they don’t collaborate.” Introverts, on the other hand, may work harder on a team because they care about what others think of them. They don’t want to be seen as not pulling their weight. So while companies may be attracted to hiring extroverts because they sound great in interviews, bosses should remember that introverts pack a powerful (yet understated) punch.
5. Introverts bring incredible depth and intimacy to their relationships. We have a penchant for quality, one-on-one time and deep conversation. Instead of talking about the weather or what you did this weekend, we’d rather peer into your inner world. What have you learned lately? How are your ideas evolving? How are you really? When you have an introvert in your life, you may experience depth and intimacy like never before.
6. Introverts know the power of words. We tend to listen more than we talk and think before we speak. We choose our words carefully because we know that once said, words can’t be retracted or easily forgotten, if at all.
7. Introverts are low maintenance. You can leave us alone for several hours at a time and we’ll just do our thing. This means if you’re our friend or significant other, you don’t have to call, text, or check in on us constantly. If you’re the manager of an introvert, it means you don’t have to babysit us. Introverts tend to be self-starters, and we generally work quietly and steadily on things. In fact, you’ll probably only hear from us if we have a problem we can’t fix (believe me, we’ve tried solving it a dozen times already before coming to you). Likewise, we don’t need constant praise, gold stickers, and shout-outs in the company newsletter. If we’re working hard, we’re motivated from within.
8. Introverts are the calm in the center of the storm. When everyone is losing their head over the company’s latest policy change, introverts are thinking of new ways to adjust. When everyone is panicking because the birthday present didn’t arrive from Amazon on time, introverts are already coming up with a backup plan. Quietly.
9. Introverts “get” you. That’s because spending time alone (which introverts love to do) may help you develop more empathy, especially for people outside your social group, research suggests. This is probably because being alone means you spend time reflecting. Solitude actually makes you more connected to others.
10. Introverts look before they leap. We don’t rush into things; we often consider all possibilities before making a decision. This applies to our jobs and personal life. For example, extroverts may jump into a new relationship more quickly than introverts. An Katrien Sodermans and her colleagues found that divorced extroverts were more likely than introverts to quickly remarry. But when you don’t rush things, you can often make better decisions.
11. Introverts create worlds in their heads — and help create the world we live in. Introverts are artists, actors, musicians, entertainers, and writers. Famous creative introverts include J.K. Rowling (only someone who spent years imagining could create the world of Hogwarts) and Lady Gaga (she’s quoted as saying, “I generally really keep to myself and I am focused on my music.”) There’s also Shonda Rhimes, David Letterman, Harrison Ford, Gwyneth Paltrow, John Green, Elton John, and Emma Watson. The list could go on and on.
12. Who runs the world? Introverts. Extroverts can and do lead. But let’s not forget that introverts can be powerful leaders, too. In fact, it has been reported that 40 percent of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates. Gates believes that introverts can make great leaders because they know the value of being alone and focusing deeply. Speaking at an engagement in 2013, he said: “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.” Other introverted leaders include Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., and Abraham Lincoln. Introverts are dreamers and doers who fight for a better, brighter future.