I can’t tell you how much it pains me as a proud introvert when I hear people around me say of a shy or quiet person, in a disdainful and hushed tone suggestive of an unfortunate affliction, “So and so is very…introverted.” Such regrettable comments stem from widespread myths about introverts that paint an unflattering image. I bring you eight myths on introverts:
1) Introverts are shy.
Contrary to popular belief, shyness is not synonymous with introversion. Introverts don’t fear people, but unless they have a reason, they won’t needlessly interact. Furthermore, whenever an introvert does talk, others have the unstoppable urge to proclaim it a momentous occasion.
2) Introverts are rude.
Many introverts value honesty and authenticity, so they’ll express themselves very directly. However, people may consider such directness rude and blunt. Thus, many introverts have learned to blend in.
3) Introverts dislike talking.
Introverts usually prefer to avoid small talk in favor of discussing something more deep. However, to blend in, many introverts have learned the art of small talk. Case in point: if you get me talking about something I’m passionate about (see: the college admissions process and psychology), I will talk your ear off.
4) Introverts dislike people.
Introverts prefer a few close friends over many friends and hold them near and loyally as people they respect. I may not text or call my friends nearly as much as an extravert, but my close friends always have a place in my heart.
5) Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are comfortable with the company of their thoughts, dreams, and problems. As you might imagine, shelter-in-place has not been nearly as unpleasant for me as it has been for some of my extraverted friends. However, without anyone to share their thoughts with (albeit one at a time), introverts can become lonely. Just like extraverts, introverts also desire authentic connections, but with one person at a time.
6) Introverts don’t know how to have fun.
Introverted folks do know how to have fun. It probably doesn’t look like having a large, wild party. For instance, I enjoy staying home and reading a book.
7) Introverts are weird.
Okay, maybe there’s an element of truth to this one — but isn’t everyone weirdly unique? I suppose some might consider introverts strange, though, for their tendency toward individualism and nonconformity.
8) Introverts can turn into extraverts and “fix” themselves.
Of all the myths, this myth pains me the most. Many introverts do feel pressured to suppress their introverted tendencies. Susan Cain, New York Times bestselling author of Quiet, was one of those introverts. Before quitting, Cain worked as a Wall Street lawyer for several years out of a desire to fit into America’s extravert-centered culture. Imagine the surprise of introverts when society (under terrible circumstances) starts commending staying at home as pro-social instead of going out.
So, if all those myths about introverts are untrue, what is an introvert?
Quiet defines introverts as people who need alone time to recharge their social batteries.
Thumbnail image by North Texas Daily