An Honest Interview with an Extreme Introvert, Me!


What is an introvert?

I didn’t have to explain my introvert qualities to others for the longest time. Previously, I was an accountant in Singapore. Then, I took a year and a half break to complete my animation studies and my book, Fearless Passion. I hadn’t been meeting that many new people.

Coming to Malaysia for work, I had met more people in three months as compared to my last five years. When I came, I hardly knew anyone except my two Animation Mentor‘s friends. Even so, they knew me online and they didn’t know how introverted I am in person.

In this post, I want to share with you what an introvert’s world is like by interviewing an introvert.

And who better to interview than me, the extreme introvert!

If you find this weird, then you have just received your first insight on introverts:

Introverts talk to themselves all the time. 

Trust me, it’s less weird for me to write this out here than interviewing myself out loud. So here goes!

Q&A on Qualities and Characteristics of an Extreme Introvert

About Not Talking Much…

Q: Are you shy or uncomfortable in groups?

Most people think that introverts are shy. This is a big misconception.

I’m nowhere near shy. I had performed on stage multiple times: singing, playing keyboard, dancing and screaming! I would say that I’m less shy than most extroverts are.

But I do get uncomfortable in large groups. Not because of shyness. It’s because I get overwhelmed easily. Apart from the verbal conversation, I pick up little nuances like non-verbal body cues and energy from other people easily. I get extremely tired quickly when I’m in groups. Sometimes, crowded and noisy places give me a headache too.

So I need to separate myself from groups and be alone regularly to recharge my batteries.

Q: If you aren’t shy, why don’t you talk much in a group?

The main reason why I don’t talk much in a group is that my mind doesn’t work that well when I’m in a group.

I’m not sure if other introverts feel the same way as I do (perhaps you can leave a comment below and let me know what you think.) But my mind works super fast when I’m alone. I’m very creative and energetic if I was left alone to do my own thing. I always have a lot of ideas.

It’s like being in the outer space back and forth a million times!

However, when you put me in a group, my mind stops working. If you ask me a question like what’s my favorite movie, my mind goes blank!

I’m guessing it’s because introverts don’t think out loud like extroverts do. We need to think everything through internally first.

I find myself that most of the time when I finally have something to share, the conversation has already moved on to another topic. Or people who ask me the question get distracted and started talking to the next person. So I usually don’t chip in much in a group conversation.

Q: If that is so, why don’t you think out loud like an extrovert?

Because thinking out loud doesn’t work for an extreme introvert like me. If I was about something which I have not processed internally, my answers tend to be short and superficial. These answers hardly stand for what I really feel about the situation.

But I do realize that sometimes people ask questions to get everyone involved in a group or they just want to touch base with you and aren’t genuinely interested in listening to what you have to share. In these case, I’ll just give them what they seek – short and superficial answers. :)


About Their Social Preference…

Q: Do you like people?

This is an interesting question. I used to think that I don’t like people when I was a teen! Everyone was in groups and I was kind of like hanging out with myself most of the time. I thought that if I like people enough, I would hang out with them more often.

When I was much older, I figured out that it was just a difference in social preference. It’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that I prefer to socialize with people on 1-1 or in a smaller group. I love deep, meaningful conversations in a quiet environment and not parties with loud music.

It has nothing to do with whether I like people or not. In fact, I feel I have a better connection with people when I talk to them 1-1.

Q: Why do you prefer 1-1 conversation?

I feel that 1-1 conversation is like playing ping-pong. One person listens and the other person talks. Then, they exchange roles back and forth. The roles are very clear in a 1-1 conversation.

Group conversation, on the other hand, is like playing soccer. There are many positions to play – you can be the striker, midfielder, defender, goalie and so on. Many times, I find myself lost in a group and don’t know what position I’m playing. And I will get restless, bored and distracted.

Over the years, I discovered that being the listener fits my personality the best. Every conversation needs listeners. When I play the listening role, I get more involved in the group conversation. So I stay at the sideline and only enter the pitch when I have something to share.

Q: What are your thoughts on having small talks?

I don’t like to make small talks but I think it’s absolutely necessary from a social point of view. You don’t meet a new person and start asking them about their relationship with their parents, their views on life and so on. And there aren’t always deeper things to share all the time.

However, you will seldom find me going around asking people like “How’s your day?” or “Have you had your lunch?”. I’m pretty much passive in that aspect. But just want to be clear though that not all introverts are that passive in making friends.

For me, I take a slow approach in making friends. If people approach me and talk to me, I would be happy to talk to them. But I don’t enjoy going up to new people and asking them questions when I know they have no interests in finding out the answers.

Sometimes I do make small talks because I know it’s going to lead to a deeper conversation or I find that individual may be someone I can forge a better relationship in the future.

About Living with Others…

Q: What is it like for an extreme introvert to live with others?

Living with My Family

Living with others is always a challenge for introverts because we need a lot of down time away from other people to recharge our batteries. Even though I had stayed with my family for many years and I believe most of them are introverts too, it still took me years to get them to understand that I need more personal time and space than they do.

I’m not very good at communicating this need to others in the past. And I would flare up when someone intrudes my private space or time. Now I just closed my door whenever I need time alone to work on my stuff. My family members can still knock on my door if they need me. If I absolutely don’t want anyone to disturb me, I would just put a sign or a note outside my door.

Living in Malaysia

Living in Malaysia is kinda different. I believe most of my housemates are more on the extroverted side.

My housemates love inviting guests to their place. In Singapore, my family and I hardly have any guests at our home. So I’m not used to it.

But I’m aware of the difference in cultures and personalities. So I never restrict my housemates from bringing guests to our house. Extroverts feel energize around people. I want them to be themselves. I won’t tell them to lock themselves in a room like what I do most of the time.

It’s great that my housemates accept my introverted nature too and just let me be in my room, although sometimes they don’t quite get it why I stay in my room so much.

About The Challenges…

Q: What is the question that other people ask you the most?

It’s definitely: “Why are you so quiet?”

I hate to answer this question because it’s like explaining to others why am I born a Chinese or a guy.

This question is a conversation killer for introverts. If you want an extreme introvert to open up, just talk to them and ask them something more specific like:

  • what do you like to do in your free time?
  • what is your opinion about this incident?
  • what do you like about this movie?

Don’t ask introverts to talk more or to open up. It makes us feel flawed like there’s something wrong with us being quiet. And it sounds rude! Introverts don’t go around asking extroverts, “Why are you so talkative and noisy? Can you talk less? Can you shut up?”

Asking an introvert to open up is the same as asking an extrovert to shut up.

A better way to get introverts to share their quiet nature in a less judgmental way is to ask them,“Why do you prefer a quiet environment?”

Q: What is the biggest challenge about being an extreme introvert?

Being misunderstood all the time. Introverts are labelled “anti-social”, “aloof”, “outcast” and “boring”.

When I was in secondary school, people don’t want to pair up with me because I was deemed “boring”. During excursion trip, I would get onto the bus and get a seat first because I feel bad if someone were to be stuck with me for the rest of the trip.

There was even one time when one of my classmates told me that I was arrogant in my face. I was like where do that come from.

But at least I’m grateful that I wasn’t bullied in school. Just mostly ignored.

Now that I’m in 30 years old and I know myself very well enough, what other people think of me doesn’t affect me at all. It’s a good place to be!

Q: What advice would you give other introverts?

I would say be yourself. Don’t try to be an extrovert when you are not an extrovert. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go out and socialize with others. It just means that you recognize your need to spend time alone away from people. Be proud of it; don’t see it as a weakness.

For years, I thought that I have autism or am socially inept. Now that I look back, it was very silly of me to think that way.

Being an introvert is one of the best gifts in my life. I never get bored or run out of things to do. If I want to do something such as watch a movie or have a good meal, I don’t have to find another person who shares the same interest as me before I can do it. I can just do whatever I like on my own.

Plus, most of my creative ideas come from being an introvert. If I’m not an introvert, I wouldn’t have been so in touch with what my passions for writing. And I won’t have created this great blog and written my book, Fearless Passion.

So I say harness your strength as an introvert and do wonder with it.

Q: What resources would you recommend other introverts?

Introverts love to read. I would recommend Susan Cain’s book on introverts, Quiet. I had watched a couple of her interviews and I love what she shared about introverts. They are pretty accurate. She defines introverts as people who have a preference for a quiet, more minimally stimulating environmentAnd that basically sums up what I am as an introvert. You can watch her inspiring video below:

Hopefully, from this interview and the video above, you get a better knowledge of what introversion is all about.

[Read Susan Cain’s Quiet to find out more about introverts.]

Have you done the MBTI? If you are an INFJ too, please download my free eBook, Self-Acceptance for INFJs.

Featured Photo Credit: Little child in a garden / José Morcillo Valenciano

Empty Your Cup
  • Fellow introvert writer

    I’m an introvert too and related to all that you wrote – even though I’m an older American woman. I always felt like something was wrong with me, that I was boring, that I was an outsider. I still don’t like social situations unless I already know the people there. Even then, I often prefer to be home, alone, or just with family. the most difficult aspect of being an introvert is being misunderstood and misjudged. I’m often accused of being arrogant, snobby, and boring. I know I’m none of those, so, like you, it doesn’t bother me as much any more. I just wish more people understood.

    • Hi introvert writer, thanks for sharing your story. :)

      Well, I guess the only thing we can do is to communicate our need of being away from others as clearly as we can. And the rest would have to leave up to individuals to interpret.

  • Kellie Ashley Tate

    Well said, and great interview!

  • Jane Endacott

    I’d like to offer some input to the question, “If you aren’t shy, why don’t you talk much in a group?”

    It’s mostly because as an introvert I have to think about the comments people have made and the ideas they’ve expressed. I have to let it sink in, before I come up with a response to it, but usually by then the conversation has moved on to something else. I don’t come up with a response right away. I have to let it marinate first. A lot of times I’ll be thinking about it later and think, “Oh that would have been a good response.” But it’s too late. It gets frustrating, because I want to give my input and I’m interested in the conversation. I just can’t keep up with the pace.

    But introversion definitely has it’s silver linings. I, too, am more creative, because during all that quiet time, I’m letting my mind and my imagination wander. I’m a fiction writer, and quiet, reflective time is great for creativity.

    It’s helpful to know who you are, what you need, and own it. I’ve found that learning to be around people, socializing in large groups, and self-care is a skill as much as anything else is a skill. It’s a constant learning process, and eventually you do find people who accept you for who you are.

    • Hey Jane,

      Same here! The pace for group conversation are usually too fast for me. I can’t keep up.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

  • Shirley Lee

    I am 53yrs. old and have always been an outcast either because I don’t speak or when I do it is short and to the point or I don’t show the emotions that people think I should. I have just recently learned about introverts and now I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. Thank you for your words.

    • Hey Shirley, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. I used to see myself as an outcast too. But later I realize that introverts are an integral part of the society. The society needs both introverts and extroverts. We are just given a different task from extroverts. ;)

  • Noniej

    I’m an extroverted introvert. I’ll be the life and soul of the party for xx number of minutes and then it’s like a tap turns off and I’m done. If I can find someone to have that 1:1 with then I’ll remain part of the group but separate. Otherwise everything you’ve said describes my life. Thankfully my husband needs his space too plus he’s a night person and I’m a morning person so we get lots of ME time.

  • Loved you post, Yong, we are so alike! :-) And I hate the question, “why are you so quiet” too! I’m still misunderstood, and to be a mother of two children is a challenge when you love quiet time, but so it is.

    • Hey Mariane, that’s because we are both INFJ! Being misunderstood is part of the package of being INFJ, so embrace it… and write about it. :p

  • Rod Semple

    Loved your insights. You’ve made me do some heavy duty thinking today. Thanks again

    • Thanks Rod! I’m happy that my writing get you thinking. :)

  • I feel so grateful for ever come across-ed your writing. Your interview help me to answer the questions I have in mind about my introvert self. I sometimes feel like being an outcast, left out by friends and alone. I always thought I was misfit somewhere and I should change to fit more with others. But the truth is, I’m enough. I might be different than most peoples (-extrovert), but I’m enough for myself. At least I don’t have to depend much on people.

    • Hey Yeong Ung, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I used to feel very alone too. A part of me wants to be alone and do all those creative stuff but another part of me wants to hang out with my friends and socialize. I think for introverts like us, we should spend more time alone to do our own things. But at the same time, we also need to schedule some time with other people and interact with others. So that we don’t separate ourselves totally from others.

  • De Gee

    This helped me understand more about myself. I struggled for many years to accept myself being an introvert. I always saw myself as being flawed. Thanks for writing this. Very encouraging

    • Thanks for reading this and leaving a comment here. I’m glad this post helps you. :)

  • Nay

    I am not an introvert, so I am here trying to gain a better understanding of my sister who is. I understand that introverts need space and to recharge, but does this space extend to anyone being on their property, not coming inside at all?

    • Hey Nay, it depends on the individual I guess. Generally, I like to go to a quiet place where I don’t know anyone for e.g. the library so that I can recharge fully. If people are physically near me and I sense that they want to talk to me, I would have a tendency to talk to them and that will disrupt my recharge process. But if we are in the same room and we are just doing our own things, it should be fine. You can check with your sister on her preference.

      I’m glad that you are making the effort to understand your introverted sister. :)