Would you describe yourself as an extrovert or an introvert? Some people aren’t happy unless they are surrounded by people, while others prefer being alone. Perhaps you have a little of both personality types.
Why is it that some people can’t stand to be alone and others love it? There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. Some introverts, also called solitaries, prefer to be alone but are forced to be around people because of their jobs or other social responsibilities.
Biologists and anthropologists explain that humans evolved as social creatures. The first human social unit was the family, and it quickly became extended families. Since there’s safety in number, these family units combined into tribes and early cultures.
Support and relationships with others are basic human needs. For many people, being alone can lead to anxiety, depression, and physical illnesses. Even though you may be social by nature, you may still have a few hours or days of solitude to get back in tune with yourself.
While some people are true loners and avoid human contact as much as possible, most people are a mixture of introversion and extroversion. The ratio is rarely 50:50, so you may be more of one personality than the other. Here are some pros and cons of being a people person or wanting to be alone.
Advantages of Being an Extrovert
Do you consider yourself an extrovert? If so, you’re probably at your best when you’re in a crowd. Extroverts usually exude warm, positive vibes and are often the life of the party. Does that sound like you or someone you know?
• Variety of Friends
One of the positive aspects of being an extrovert is that you meet so many interesting people. Extroverts don’t know a stranger and make friends easily. Having a large circle of friends from different walks of life enriches you, and you’ll always have a fascinating topic to discuss.
• Promotes Self-Confidence
Most extroverts have a high level of self-confidence and are willing to take risks if the benefits are high enough. When you are a people person, others naturally look to you as a strong, take-charge individual. Your exceptional conversational skills help you understand problems and work them out agreeably with others.
• Creates a Positive Attitude
Since most extroverts are optimistic, they tend to attract other positive people. They can also have a positive effect on negative people. Studies show that people who have a positive attitude are more likely to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.
• Promotes an Attitude of Helping Others
When you enjoy being around other people, you may be drawn to helping professions like teaching, medicine, and social work. Extroverts usually derive great joy by helping others in difficult situations. They love people and seldom spend a lot of time being alone.
Disadvantages of Being an Extrovert
There’s nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with people you love and enjoy. However, there can always be too much of a good thing. If your personality ratio is too highly extroverted, you may encounter a few challenges.
• May Battle Loneliness
When you’re used to people around you all the time, it may not feel right when you are alone. Many people stay surrounded by others because they can’t stand to be lonely. Being by yourself may trigger bad memories from the past or cause you to be anxious or sink into a depression.
• You May Lack Independence
Extroverted people often place too much value on the opinions of others. If you have a difficult decision to make, you may poll the crowd instead of making it yourself. When you are a people person, you may need the cheers around you to have the nerve to complete a new task.
• Becoming Overbearing
It’s one thing to be the life of the party, but it’s quite another to be continually dominating the conversation. To be chatty, you may find yourself talking more than you are listening. Remedy the problem by practicing active listening and remember that other people have opinions that matter, too.
• Your Conversation Might be Over the Top
Who doesn’t like to laugh and cut up once in a while? Extroverts are usually known for their quick wit and sense of humor. Use humor judicially because too much can make you seem silly and immature. Monitor your voice’s tone and volume, so you don’t come off as loud, obnoxious, and offensive.
• Everyone Needs Some Alone Time
Are you too busy stuffing your schedule with meetings, parties, and gatherings that you get lost in the crowd? Extroverts often need to remember to take some alone time to rest and silently ponder questions in their minds. If this is you, try to make time for meditation, journaling, or taking a leisurely walk to enjoy nature alone.
Advantages to Being Alone Sometimes
History is brimming with a variety of people who shunned the company of others. Famous people like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Rosa Parks, Katherine Hepburn, and Elenor Roosevelt were happier when they were alone. Actress Greta Garbo, also a loner, is known for her iconic line in a movie, “I just want to be alone.”
Some individuals take vows of solitude in specific religious communities. Others, like Henry David Thoreau, voluntarily lived a while in seclusion for self-reflection or inspiration. Thoreau’s two-year hermitage on Waldon Pond inspired his most memorable book.
When you are solitary, you have more time to reflect on your inner thoughts without interruption. You needn’t consider other opinions about your business. You may strongly prefer healing peace and quiet.
• Most Introverts aren’t People Haters
If you are an extrovert, you may assume that solitaries hate people. While some loners despise the sight of others, most prefer more alone time. They are usually forced out of their shell for basic needs and social responsibilities. Many are deep thinkers who need time to recharge their batteries.
• You May be a Better Listener
Introverts spend a lot of time alone with only their inner voice to break the silence. Therefore, they often take more time to listen when others are talking. If you are solitary, you may have practiced good listening skills and use them well.
• Solitaries are often More Focused
Have you ever tried to concentrate around a bunch of noise and loud people? It’s even difficult for the most assertive extrovert to do. Since solitary people are usually alone, they’ve trained themselves to focus on ideas and tasks.
If you are solitary, you may have a natural talent for some jobs. These are best done alone, such as researcher, scientist, writer, or engineer. You can focus on your work without the distraction of needing company.
• You May Make Deeper Connections with Others
Although solitaries prefer going solo, they still need some social interaction to survive. Extroverts are a buddy to everyone and often don’t form close relationships. However, when solitaries are social, they are more apt to make a more substantial connection that will last.
• Introverts Can Also Be Leaders
Not everyone who is a successful leader is a people person at heart. If you are an introverted leader, you probably lead with compassion and integrity. When you let the extroverts around you do the work, both of you win.
Disadvantages of Being Alone
Being alone does have its perks, but it also has its disadvantages. The saying is true that nobody is an island. Socialization is a basic human need, and being alone all the time isn’t good for you.
• Society Labels Introverts
Since most people in every culture tend to stick together, a lone person is often labeled as an outcast. Many loners are eccentric and don’t always play by society’s rules. Therefore, they are often misunderstood, unfairly judged, and mistreated, which leads to more isolation problems.
If being alone is your thing, some people may think you are a snob or are. It may make socializing even more difficult for you. However, you owe no one an apology or explanation if you prefer to be a loner.
• Introverts are Often Overlooked at Work
You don’t have to be a people person to be successful at work. However, it would help if you still worked with others effectively. The unfortunate thing for loners is that they are often overlooked or ignored at work for their love of being alone.
If this is you, perhaps you’ve been overlooked for a well-deserved promotion. Maybe you miss out on accolades because you don’t speak up for yourself. You don’t have to become an extrovert to let your voice be heard to get what you deserve on the job.
There’s much to gain from being alone with your thoughts. Many people prefer isolation, yet they will never feel lonely. Still others love to be the life of the party. Neither way is wrong. So whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you’re whole within yourself but can still benefit from being with others.