Introvertism: The Quiet Superpower
There are a group of people who have superpowers. They walk among us, and we have no idea that they are any different. Those people are introverts, hiding in plain sight. We are there, but not, quietly observing and thinking. Quiet and alone is when we get our best thinking done. Introvertism is our superpower. And no one knows.
No one knows because we are quiet about what we do. We don’t post our amazing revelations on Facebook to gain accolades. No, that is not our way. Our way is to stay on the sidelines. We don’t like praise. Being the center of attention is very uncomfortable, so we think they are enjoying our quiet time. We come up with great ideas, inventions, etc., and we stay out of the limelight.
It is how we introverts can stay hidden in a world that likes to see everything that others are doing. But you can’t capture a thought in pictures. And because we are quiet, there are no witnesses to our greatness.
The definition of an introvert is someone who prefers calm, minimally, stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains. In other words, if you’re an introvert, you were likely born that way.1
Introvertism as a Superpower
I grew up as an introvert. Knowing the wiring in my brain is unique to being an introvert did not make growing up introverted any easier, especially in a world that values extroverts. I didn’t realize that introvertism is a superpower until quite recently. I suppose that I had to go through the usual trials and tribulations of a mere human to discover that I have a superpower.
Why do I think that introvertism is a superpower? It isn’t just to make myself feel better when I want to be alone or feel socially awkward in large groups. It is because I have denied myself who I am for so long. I pushed myself to move outside of my normal inclination of introvertism and become an extrovert because that is what the world values. And I wanted to be valued.
By denying a huge part of who I am, I became miserable, a shell of myself. I covered up that pain of pushing outside of my comfort zone by drinking. It wasn’t pretty, but it is what I did. Part of my recovery process was spending a lot of time inside my head. I thought a lot about why I am the way I am and how I can be better. And that is why I believe introvertism is a superpower. If you are an introvert, you should think that too.
Being an Introvert Saved Me
Being an introvert has saved me time and time again. I look back on my life, and I know that I would not be where I am without my introverted superpowers. Sure, I have had some slips, trying to fit into a world that values extroverts more than introverts. And during those times, I have been at my most miserable, turning to alcohol to quell anxiety and depression. Having forgotten me in that push to be what the world thinks people should be is what leads to anxiety, depression, and heavy drinking. In a nutshell, I was miserable.
As a child growing up in an abusive home, being an introvert helped me more easily withdraw into my inner world. Luckily for me, being an introvert, my inner world was and is a fantastic place. My imagination was the only boundary in the worlds that I created within my mind. I was more than happy to be and stay in my worlds for as long as possible.
It wasn’t only that I, as an introvert, was naturally more comfortable within my mind that saved me. It was also how much I love to read. And I would take what I read, internalize the information, and apply what was relevant to my situation. It was what helped me to realize that I was growing up in an abusive environment. That information gave me the courage to fight against the abusive environment.
Science Behind the Superpower
I used to think that I became an introvert because of growing up the way I did. The more I read about introverts and my introvert superpowers, the more I became fascinated with the science behind introverstism. Two primary chemicals influence the introvert’s brain. They are acetylcholine and dopamine.2
The Intrepid Neurotransmitters
Dopamine is known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. The brain releases it when we engage in behavior that pleases us. Dopamine affects mood, motivation, and attention and helps to regulate emotional responses.3 Acetylcholine is the most common neurotransmitter and is involved in many different functions, such as motivation, attention, learning, and memory.4
Dopamine and acetylcholine affect our brains similarly. One of the primary differences is that dopamine is released into the system much faster than acetylcholine. Think of it like waking up to a blaring alarm clock (dopamine) versus waking up to subtle violin music (acetylcholine). For introvert’s dopamine is like the blaring alarm’s jarring wake-up; we are very sensitive to it. Our brains prefer the subtle wake-up with the violins, which closer to the slower release of acetylcholine.
Taking the Scenic Route with Acetylcholine
Being an introvert is more complicated than which neurotransmitter we are more sensitive to. There are different pathways that those neurotransmitters take. Acetylcholine takes a longer, more scenic route through various parts of the brain. The path that acetylcholine takes to go through parts of the brain associated with empathy, self-reflection, emotional meaning, and self-talk, to name a few. The longer route and the areas the route winds through are reasons that introverts take longer to respond to questions and prefer having quiet and calm.
Thoughts on Introvertism as Superpowers
I used to think of being an introvert as a curse. I don’t think as quickly as others, so I am left behind others in most conversations. I am unlikely to contribute to discussions that I do not know that much about. I do not do well with ‘small talk.’ I can’t focus on small talk because I don’t find it enjoyable. People never tell the truth in small talk, and so I have no patience for it.
I am happiest talking with one person and having a wonderful, in-depth conversation. One on one is so much better for me because I think about what I am going to say. If there are others in the discussion, I have a hard time splitting my focus. I find it impossible to engage in a multi-person conversation.
I used to think that it was because my brain was too slow and I was stupid. I now know that is not the truth. My brain is uniquely suited to the superpower of introvertism. I wholeheartedly embrace my superpower. And I think you should too.
“You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind.” ~Yoko Ono
We live in a world where actions speak louder than words. And introverts are fans of words. But some introverts have made contributions to our way of life. That tapped into their superpower and was able to create amazing things. Some to note are:
- Introvert, Dear. What is an Introvert? Definition and Guide to Introversion. https://introvertdear.com/what-is-an-introvert-definition/
- Jenn Granneman. (June 27, 2019). Introverts’ and Extroverts’ Brains Really Are Different, According to Science. https://introvertdear.com/news/introverts-and-extroverts-brains-really-are-different-according-to-science/
- Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/dopamine
- Kendra Cherry. (October 9, 2019). What is Acetylcholine? https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-acetylcholine-2794810