Clanking trays and a sea of conversations are muted by her earbuds. She enjoys the atmosphere but does not participate.
As an introvert, Katie Ramirez, senior history major, is perfectly happy sitting alone under the purple mountains painted on the far wall of the Alumni Dining Commons with a book and her iPad.
She is fairly quiet, eating her lunch and observing others until a friend comes to join her. Her voice raises and eyes brighten as her friend plops her keys down on the table.
“I love being with my friends, and I love hanging out,” Ramirez said. “I just need some time to myself, too.”
Introverts get their energy from personal reflection rather than the buzz of other people. “Hermit days,” as Ramirez calls them, are a time for her to click the bedroom door shut and mute the din of others. A book or movie energizes her as the quiet allows her time to process circumstances, people and ideas.
“I get drained very quickly if I’m constantly around people, and if I don’t have a break or time to myself, I just get really tired,” Ramirez said.
Like many others who score an “I” for “introvert” on the Meyers-Briggs personality test, Ramirez is not exclusively energized by seclusion. She also gets energy from being with friends who know her well and from doing things she loves.
As an avid traveler, Ramirez said one of the perks of being an introvert is her independence. Last year while traveling in Europe, Ramirez enjoyed solo trips to echoing museums and tiny bistros. At the end of the day, she came back together with friends she was traveling with abroad.
While independence is not exclusively a character trait of introverts, Ramirez said it spurs her to go do things, even if no one will go with her.
“If there’s something I want to do, I’m just not going to do it for fear of being by myself,” Ramirez said.
As someone who is not intimidated by going it alone or energized by constant chatter, Ramirez said she has a unique ability to be a good listener. Dr. Ken Pearce, professor of psychology, said being an active listener is often a strength of introverts.
“When they do speak, it means something that has weight to it,” Pearce said. “They may deliberately and cautiously space their words out; what they have to say is meaningful.”
For the sake of comfort, many personalities tend to feel the need to keep conversation drumming. Ramirez said when her voice does cut through chatter, it is not for the purpose of adding a voice but because she feels she has something of value
“If I’m around my best friends, I don’t really filter what I’m saying,” Ramirez said. “However, around everybody else, I’ve probably thought through what I’m going to say before I’ve said it.”
Personality tests can be beneficial to help individuals determine strengths and learn where they draw energy. Pearce said this is the only purpose of personality tests.
“No test scores tells you who you are. No class tells you who you are, pass or fail. You are the sum of all things, not the negative of one thing,” Pearce said. “I teach outwardly (extrovertly) but I would suggest that I am probably pretty much an introvert by style. So it’s a combination.”
Pearce cautions against branding each other with the terms introvert and extrovert. He said personality tests can be useful to help individuals better understand where they get their energy, but stereotyping can be harmful. He said no person is 100 percent introverted 100 percent of
“It’s always a combination,” he said. “It just depends who you’re with, and how you explain yourself.”
People tend to have expectations of how others should act and Pearce’s observation is that if people do not meet expectations, they may be viewed as imbalanced. Ramirez, like many introverts, does not hate noise, she just does not always add to it. She doesn’t live up to a stereotype and finds many strengths in being introverted.