Have you ever been told that you’re likely to become an introvert in old age? Well according to science, it has been proven that we become more introverted with age, but it’s not bad at all.
If the thought irritates you, just give it some thought. In college or high school, you spent each weekend out till the break of dawn and things were great. It was all we wanted to do at that point, but as soon as we reached our 30s, our priorities changed.
If you’re over 30, your ideal weekend probably involves watching Netflix with a glass of beer or wine in your hand and going to bed early at night to get a good night sleep. Being more introverted as you age is nothing to be ashamed of– it’s an entirely normal process.
What is intrinsic maturity?
The author of Quiet, Susan Cain, calls it “intrinsic maturation”. In simpler terms, it means that as we age, our personality gets more balanced. She explains it as a kind of a fine wine that mellows as time passes by. Not really a bad comparison at all, huh?
Most people get emotionally balanced and stable when they hit 30. With maturity comes self-containment. In short, you don’t have to socialize to be happy.
According to a study, psychologists have observed the intrinsic maturation in numerous countries across Europe. Not only in humans but it was also observed in monkeys and chimps. It’s a process that also affects extroverts.
Is there something bad about it?
As it turns out, the process of intrinsic maturity is not bad at all. Psychologists say that acting extroverted when we’re young most likely helps us to find our life partners. Extroversion allows creating possibly romantic relationships and strong social bonds.
Usually in our 30’s, after this period passes, we begin settling down beside our partners and become more introverted. That’s the time when we usually create families and have children. It’s not really possible to care for your children and family if you constantly visit parties that last till the morning.
Does intrinsic maturity change us entirely?
Although the process of intrinsic maturation can affect extroverts, if you have been an introvert from a young age, you’ll probably likely end like one. The same is for extroverts. They don’t just stop socializing, instead they’ll probably slow down a bit as they age. After all, our personalities can just change so much.
Studies reveal that the personality of a 70-year-old can be predicted with remarkable accuracy from early adulthood onward. We experience a variety of situations in our lifetime. Despite of them influencing how we grow and who we are, our core traits tend to remain same and constant.
It doesn’t mean that our personalities don’t evolve. For instance, many introverts report feeling more socially confident and graceful as they mature, but they tend to stick to their predictable patterns.
Take it as your high school reunion. If you were an introvert in high school, by the time you reach your 30’s, you’re likely to become more comfortable in your skin. At high school reunions, you learn that everyone including the biggest extroverts eventually slow down.
You will find many of your classmates as more introverted than you remember them in school. They will be quieter and more self-contained. They will be less in need of excitement and more conscientious and agreeable. All these traits grow more pronounced with age. They want their peace, quiet and stability in life and are totally cool with it.
Why does it happen?
As mentioned above, when we’re young, extroversion helps us establish significant emotional and social bonds and even helps us to find a life partner. Later, when we already have a partner and the circle of close friends and family, continuously knowing new people becomes less important. By this phase we become more dedicated to strengthening the bonds we have already built.
It’s as if there are two parts of our life. In the first part, our goal was to expose ourselves to the world and discover what it has to offer, while in the second part finding a meaning to all that and continue to nurture the established links becomes more important.
The relative tranquility and solitude of that second phase also allows us to be alone with ourselves and discover the person we have become. While in youth and adolescence we try to discover who we are by exploring different roles and opening ourselves to the world, in adulthood we seek confidence and security, which is why we start valuing introspection exercises.
Apart from that, in adulthood we understand that we do not only need a break from work, but also from social life because constant commitments exhaustion. A study conducted at the University of Helsinki proved that socialization is likely to leave you exhausted.
The researchers noted that within three hours of socialization, communication and meeting people you end up being tired and drained out.
This tendency to introversion also influences the fact that we value much more of our time, which leads us to be more selective and thoughtful with our friendships. That means we prefer to cultivate those relationships with which we have values in common and feel that they contribute something to us.