I am not a fan of labels. That being said the title of introvert is something that I can easily relate to. Many of us do in fact fall into the category of an introvert. Avid readers spend quite a lot of time inside of their own heads, albeit on a guided journey through the author’s imagination.
Introvert is described in the Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus as a ” 1-person predominately concerned with his or her own thoughts 2-shy, thoughtful person”.
There have been studies and debates about whether it is better to be an Introvert or an Extrovert. Do a simple browser search and you will find a plethora of opinions. Regardless of your opinion on the subject, it is realistic to say that the world is dominated by Extroverts.
After all they are the ones drawing all of the attention to themselves and as they say, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I was surprised to see so many different voices promoting the idea that being an Introvert is something to be avoided or overcome.
There is a collection of what I can only assume are well meaning misconceptions about Introverts. I for one wish to dispel some of these negative connotations and remind everyone that Introverts are more than they seem. Let us not forget the other saying that, still waters run deep.
Introverts are antisocial.
While it is accepted that Introverts can become more easily over stimulated by social interaction this does not mean that they avoid such things all together. Think of social interaction as a delectable dessert.
Introverts would be those people that prefer smaller portions of these treats and experience an over abundance of sugar with sickening discomfort.
Introverts know how much is enough or too much and delegate their intake accordingly. Some people think that you can’t have too much of a good thing while others disagree.
Introverts don’t like people.
This assumption follows the understanding that Introverts are shy. Around new people this is likely to be true but Introverts are very open around those people that have been brought within their own circle. We all want to surround ourselves with like-minded people to reinforce the feeling that our thoughts and ideas have a valid place in the world.
Because Introverts spend more time with their own thoughts, they have a clearer idea of what they believe. This makes them more careful about revealing what could be considered weird to just anyone.
If you are not an Introvert you probably have at least one friend that is. While they may not be the one to suggest a wild night out on the town, they make great listeners and consider friendships to be long-term commitments.
Introverts feel to superior to others.
This is another misconception that arises from the fact that Introverts are shy. The tendency to keep to themselves and observe can appear like snobbish disdain, especially to people who prefer to leap right in to any social exchange.
The truth is that Introverts will join a conversation if they feel that they have something to contribute that will be appreciated.
They often reserve their comments and opinions because they are actively trying to avoid confrontation, that their ideas will be misunderstood or rejected.
Introverts are unhappy and would be happier if they got out more.
While some Introverts may also suffer from some form of depression, this is a condition that exists independently from being either an Introvert or an Extrovert. Depression can effect anyone but Introverts have a different happy place than Extroverts do and recognizing the difference can help us all understand each other better.
Just as Extroverts feel recharged and excited by getting out of the house, Introverts feel a sense of rejuvenation in pulling back and enjoying a quiet night without expectations. I promise that when we stay in with a book and a soothing beverage we are blissfully happy and content.
Being an Introvert is something to be cured.
This is related to the previous point where a belief exists that Introverts will never be happy until they become Extroverts. Just as I stated above, Introverts have a different definition of what constitutes having a good time and it is important to remember that different doesn’t mean wrong.
Being an Introvert is not, as I have attempted to demonstrate, is not something that separates you from society. It is a preference in how you interact with it.
Part of the confusion with this point may be that many Introverts can and do manifest Extrovert tendencies. Few people are made as one extreme or the other but instead are a multifaceted individual that exists somewhere in-between.
Your introverted friend may decide to go out and sing karaoke, while your extroverted friend may decide to see a movie or have a meal by themselves. This doesn’t mean that they are looking to change who they are, it is just part of who they are.
As I said in the beginning, I don’t like labels. Descriptions however can be useful in understanding the difference between being an Introvert and being depressed. Like ice-cream and brain-freeze, they can go together but just because you have one doesn’t mean you have the other.
5 thoughts on “Most Common Misconceptions About Introverts”
I’m a life time socially functionable introvert. There was a time when I went through a wide variety of therapists (I learned to out think them pretty quick) starting from age 11 and I also abused alcohol for a time (AA was a laughable failure as I watched them abuse everything but alcohol and my patience). Now I use it semi responsibily. That said I found a woman with whom I am mostly compatible. We are and were in many ways different and the same. I was attracted to her because she was at the time my opposite. So I thought. But after 20 years of marriage, she is more socially exclusive then I knew. I’m now the socialsble one in that I want to occasionally go out for drinks with trusted colleagues. I still self identify as an introvert but as a teacher, father and husband, I find my introversion has retreated more and more back into my head and to those few guilty moments when I’m happy or rather at peace by myself. That’s my on going story.
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That is such a moving story… Thank you for opening up! Do you find it is difficult to maintain the introvertism in the “back of your head”?
Great post. It’s unfortunate that so many misconceptions about introverts exist. I remember reading something very interesting in the book Quiet by Susan Cain. While the Western world does favour extroversion, there are quite a few leaders and CEOS who are introverts. They are usually pretty successful too because they are such good listeners and collaborators. I think ambiverts have the best of both worlds though. 🙂
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You are right, great comment!
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