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This enriches introverts' lives like nothing else

Woman reading

Alice Munro quipped that, "The constant happiness is curiosity."

It's almost as if she were addressing introverts, among the most intellectually curious people in existence, directly.

Introverts' quest for knowledge is perpetual. It will never abate. 

We strive to learn something new each and every day, whether by reading books, watching documentaries, or catching the newest exhibitions at the local museum. 

Introverts don't buy into the notion that learning ends the day you get your high school or college diploma. Rather, learning is a lifelong pursuit. As the prolific science fiction writer Isaac Asimov said, "Education is not something you can finish."

Does this mean we all aim to go out and get a Ph.D. like Asimov did?  Of course not.

We're fortunate enough to live in an age where we have myriad tools at our disposal that enable us to learn practically anything we want, whenever we want, without the need to invest in a formal degree. Asimov himself championed self-learning as a way of supplementing  standard schooling. 

I can't imagine what Asimov and the intellectuals who came before him -- Thomas Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin -- would have thought of the limitless possibilities afforded by the internet. All of them could rely upon books at the library, but that's about it. 

Take YouTube. If I want to watch an hour-long documentary on Hamilton, I can find one in a matter of seconds. If I'm interested in learning about the history of Philadelphia, I have a plethora of videos to choose from. 

Then there are platforms like Coursera and The Great Courses, which provide lectures on a broad range of topics -- from literature to business to science. 

With the advent of technology, there is no justification for anyone complaining of boredom. I only wish more people would leverage the internet for self-education rather than mostly using it for games, movies, and social media. But that's a topic for a separate post all its own. 

Now, I am not suggesting that extroverts aren't intellectually curious. But from what I've observed, introverts by and large tend to be:

  • More bookish 
  • More ardently passionate about one or two subjects in particular 
  • More inclined to stay home or at the library reading as opposed to attending social gatherings 
In other words, every intellectual isn't necessarily an introvert, but more often than not, an introvert is an intellectual. 

My passion for learning even trickles into my travel plans. In fact, I plan vacations around historic monuments and attractions that I intend to visit at the destination in question. I've soaked up ample history in cities like New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Annapolis, and Baltimore. 

Indeed, introverts' thirst for knowledge spills into every facet of their lives -- whether work or leisure, entertainment or relationships. I'm fortunate enough where my deepest passion -- writing -- is both a hobby and how I earn a living. I am also an unapologetic bibliophile, with more books than I know what to do with. Most introverts I know are either into arts and letters, design, photography, or some other creative endeavor. 

While I read fiction on occasion, my interests lie in the realm of non-fiction; history and psychology -- which fall under the social sciences umbrella -- are my favorites. 

I try to read as much as possible in order to:
  •  Learn new facts and concepts
  •  Learn new and different perspectives 
  • Absorb new vocabulary -- from phrases to idioms -- and different styles of prose that can help sharpen my writing skills 
There's no question many if not most introverts are bright. But what distinguishes them from other people is their inveterate drive to learn, to question, to analyze. 

From an early age, every time I came across a word whose meaning was unfamiliar to me, I pulled out the dictionary immediately. I just couldn't stand completing a passage without knowing what, say, "ubiquitous" meant. 

As I've noted in prior posts, introverts don't derive nearly as much stimulation from social interactions as our more extroverted counterparts. As a matter of fact, too much of it depletes our energy. 

It's for this reason that books make such great company to introverts. There's no need utter a single word. We are perfectly fine in total silence while reading. Some of us may prefer some music, or the sound of birds chirping or ocean waves lapping at the shore.

Now, if we can pair books and people together, introverts are all for it! We love discussing anything from Shakespeare to the solar system over tea or coffee at virtually any time of the day. 

What we can't tolerate for too long is small talk. What can I say? We love using our brains to the hilt, and chitchat doesn't exactly fit the bill. 
Because introverts can maintain their focus for long stretches of time, it's no surprise we prefer to work independently. We're at our most creative when left in our personal space, uninterrupted. It doesn't mean we can't work with other people -- after all, which job doesn't require group work nowadays? -- but we come up with the best ideas on our own, which we can then share with the rest of the team. 

Now, it goes without saying that sooner or later introverts encounter people who take issue with their approach. It could be a boss who says they're too quiet or not enough of a team player. It could be a date or friend who raises objections to the introvert's interests or need for solitude. 

Whatever the case may be, you should never change who you are just to please someone else. Remember, as an introvert, you're unique. Not many people have our intellectual bent. Not many people are as learned, as inquisitive. 

Do you really want to throw your gifts away just to curry someone's favor?

Keep being the most authentic version of yourself. Because at the end of the day, no one can infuse your life with lasting happiness like you can. Your passions are your own, and nobody should ever interfere. If they're that opposed to the way you live your life, they can stay out of it. 


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