Ok, so, there are many myths about what it means to be an introvert. And while I completely understand that this is simply another case of little knowledge and understanding on the matter, as an introvert myself it does still sting when people make assumptions about the type of person you are just by the stereotypical interpretations they hold of the word ‘introverted’.
I have contrived a list of what can be seen as the most common and most incorrect passing judgements of introverts:
INTROVERTS ARE JUST SHY
Some introverts are shy, yes, but some aren’t. Just as some introverts are tall and some are short or some Irish and some Japanese. There really is no proper connection between being shy and being introverted. You see, introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact with people. They do not interact just for the sake of it. I myself am both an introvert and shy. However, my being shy is directly related to the fact that I have anxiety, not the fact that I am an introvert. I, just like others, happen to be both.
INTROVERTS DON’T LIKE TO TALK
Not true! What we don’t like is small talk. We don’t tend to speak unless we have something useful to say. Get an introvert talking about something they are passionate about and you’ll never shut us up! Mainly because we also hate being misunderstood. This personally is one of my biggest fears; if I am explaining something and I don’t get my point across perfectly and convincingly then I get very, very agitated. I do not like giving advice unless it’s guaranteed to help, I detest bland attempts at cheering up a person you care about when they are down and I truly believe that if you can’t have deep and meaningful conversations with someone you’re in a relationship with then there is no point to the relationship at all.
INTROVERTS ARE RUDE
This really has a few strings to its bow. Firstly, introverts are considered rude because we tend to avoid social gatherings. Please don’t be offended by this. I understand it must be slightly insulting when we continuously decline your invitations to go out but this is not a personal attack. We simply feel uncomfortable in social settings and, a lot of the time, they’re just not our idea of fun. Please don’t call us dull or sad for preferring a quiet night in to an all night house party, it’s just a case of preference. The second reason why introverts are seen as rude is because we tend to be rather blunt with our words. Again, please don’t be offended by this. It’s just we don’t see the point of beating around the bush. It’s just how our brain works. However, occasionally our words can come across as harsh. We apologise for this but we do believe everyone should just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting. Also, have you ever gotten really pissed at someone because they take forever and a day to text back? Well, to be fair, so have I even though I am the biggest culprit of this. But you see it’s not that we ‘can’t be bothered’ to get back to you, it’s just that when we get a message from someone, we want to wait until we’re ready to give it our undivided attention, to read it, and send a thoughtful response. See, as I have said before, introverts carefully filter your words and feel enormous pressure to say the right things. We don’t even raise our hand in class or speak up at work because we think that everything we say must be profound and flawless. So please understand, it’s not that we’re being rude, it’s that we want what we say to be as interesting and helpful to you as possible.
INTROVERTS DON’T LIKE PEOPLE
Just because introverts don’t have 50,000 Facebook friends whom they see in passing once a year in a club does not mean that we dislike people. In fact, introverts tend to have a small number of friends whom they value immensely. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Now that sounds really conceited but I can assure you it is not. Think of it this way, one of the most difficult things for an introvert is to feel at ease around other people. We always feel out of place or on a different level to everyone else. So if you have earned the trust and respect of an introvert then you know you are a special human being, as we do not go into friendships lightly.
INTROVERTS DO NOT LIKE GOING OUT
Rubbish! Personally I go stir fry crazy if I stay in doors all day. I love going out and doing things, I just don’t enjoy doing the type of things other people my age enjoy doing. I can’t stand staying out clubbing all night and so, sure, if I had the choice I would most definitely stay indoors in that scenario. However I LOVE travelling up to busy London for the day to see another west end show. So yes, it’s not that introverts don’t like going out, it’s just that they don’t like going out for as long as other people, especially when what they are going out to do isn’t something that particularly enthrals them. In addition to this, introverts take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for introverts as we often feel completely drained after outside activities, even if we really enjoyed them.
INTROVERTS ALWAYS WANT TO BE ALONE
Introverts are perfectly comfortable being left alone with their own thoughts. They think…a lot. They daydream (in fact in every one of my school reports, that was the one comment that never changed). They always have some new and innovative idea going on inside their head. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with one person at a time. So while we like to be on our own, we do not like to be alone. Take it from me, as someone who has felt utterly alone their whole life, it’s not particularly fun…and by that I mean its f***ing horrible. I love to be given my space and I really do appreciate people who understand that sometimes I just need to stop, get away and be by myself, but I also love close company, no matter how small. So even if someone has declined your invitation to hang out 100 times until now, never stop inviting them because one day they might just say yes and while that may not seem like a big deal to you, it is a huge deal to an introvert and they really appreciate you standing by them.
INTROVERTS ARE WEIRD
Ok, I pride myself on being weird. A freak if you will. So while I am perfectly okay with this misconception, it is a misconception none the less. Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy. This can be anything from making a point of buying clothes when they are going out of fashion, to spending their life savings on hauling themselves half way around the world to live without so much as a bed to sleep in. Introverts are also very internal people. Much of what other people express outwardly through expression and conversation, introverts tend to contain inside their own head, even to the point that they start having full blown conversations with themselves. They pay close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them; it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them. So ok, while I can sort of understand why this is conceived as weird, it really isn’t because, come on, who doesn’t talk to themselves?!
INTROVERTS DON’T KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN
Really? Look, there is no ‘one way’ to have fun. I feel like I’ve said this 100 times already but different people enjoy different things! It has nothing to do with being an introvert or an extrovert; some people just prefer a Disney marathon to a night grinding up against total strangers in the club. Introverts are not adrenaline junkies but it’s not like every extrovert on Earth is white water rafting over cliffs and jumping out of planes. In fact I think you’ll find that often, introverts have gone out and experienced much more in life than a lot of extroverts. It’s just that introverts typically relax more at home or in nature, not in busy public places. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down, basically because their senses are more sensitive than other people’s so we pick up on details easily that some don’t pick up on at all.
IF INTROVERTS JUST GOT OUT MORE, THEY’D BE EXTROVERTS
No. That’s not how it works. Just like you can’t ‘turn a gay man straight’ you can’t turn someone into an extrovert; it’s just not who they are. And can I please stress this…what is so wrong with being an introvert?! A world without introverts is a world without many artists, scientist, musicians, actors, writers, filmmakers and philosophers! I mean really, let me just list some famous introverts for you; JK Rowling, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Meryl Streep, Audrey Hepburn, Tom Hanks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Steven Speilberg, even Barack Obama! All these people have proven there’s no disadvantage to being an introvert, especially if they are able to work with their strengths. I mean really, think about it, introverts put so much love and attention into their friendships and relationships, they are independent, they have initiative minds like no other, they’re often very good listeners, they’re in touch with their feelings, they’re very observant, they’re passionate and extremely committed to their goals…the list goes on and on!