Sunday, September 25, 2011

10 Myths about Introverts

We’re Not Loners, Geeky, or Antisocial

I am an introvert. A hard core introvert. For me, talking to people in person is painful. At parties, I’ll sit in an out of the way spot and keep to myself, even around the people I know. If I go to a bar (a very rare event as it is), I’ll quietly have a drink and not bother with anyone. When I do talk, I leave every conversation feeling awkward and embarrassed. If I don’t already know you and there’s no specific reason to talk to you (like you work at a store and I need help finding something), you’ll have to speak to me first or you’ll never hear a word from me.

Shy Face

Of course, not every introvert is that extreme, and there are some complex factors at work in my case, which I’ll be writing about in the future. But approximately 25% of the population are introverts; in and of itself, there’s nothing wrong with being one. Extroverts don’t necessarily see it that way. I think most introverts don’t see it that way, either. But it’s true.

Here’s a find from Google+: Peter Urbanski discovered a book review by Carl King about The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Laney. (That’s a rather roundabout way to get to the good stuff, but hey, that’s the nature of the internet.) From Peter’s post,1 here’s Carl’s list of 10 common misconceptions about introverts:2

  • Myth #1: Introverts don’t like to talk.
    This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

  • Myth #2: Introverts are shy.
    Shyness has nothing to do with being an introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

  • Myth #3: Introverts are rude.
    Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to 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.

  • Myth #4: Introverts don’t like people.
    On the contrary, introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

  • Myth #5: Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
    Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public for as long. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They 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.

  • Myth #6: Introverts always want to be alone.
    Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. 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.

  • Myth #7: Introverts are weird.
    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.

  • Myth #8: Introverts are aloof nerds.
    Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying 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.

  • Myth #9: Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
    Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called dopamine. Introverts and extroverts have different dominant neuro–pathways. Just look it up.

  • Myth #10: Introverts can fix themselves and become extroverts.
    A world without introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an extrovert can learn in order to interact with introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot [and should not –MP] fix themselves and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of introverts increases with IQ.[3]

So, next time you deal with an introvert (even if that introvert is yourself), remember: you’re dealing with an interesting, intelligent, genuine individual. Like me.

Are you an introvert? What do you do to make that work to your advantage? Share in the comments!


1Urbanski, Peter. Google+ post. Google+. N.p., n.d. Web. 2011-09-25. Reproduced by permission.
2King, Carl. 10 Myths about Introverts. CarlKingdom. N.p., n.d. Web. 2011-09-25.
3Silverman, Linda. Parenting Young Gifted Children. Journal of Children in Contemporary Society 18 (1986): 73-87. Print.


Rochelle said...

Thank you for posting this :-)

Rebekka Steg said...

As an introvert I obviously loved this post. There's so much truth in it as well. Thank you for sharing!

Michael P (@PizSez) said...

You're welcome. We introverts should stick together. If we can get out of our own heads enough for it. :)

anita said...

This is an important post! I have felt self conscious about my introversion in the past, not realizing that it is a wonderful personality trait. It can be anxiety provoking when you don't operate at the same frequency as others - like those pesky extroverts ;)

I'm a huge daydreamer which I used to rebuke myself for. But no longer - being in my own head is great place to be ;)
Thank you kindly for posting this :)

Michael P (@PizSez) said...

"It can be anxiety provoking when you don't operate at the same frequency as others..."

Oh yes! I always feel like I'm slightly out of tune with everyone else. It's difficult to remember that there's nothing wrong with my introversion.

zanjabil said...

As a super introvert I really enjoyed this post. I have been told by family to "get out of your head!", but what they don't realize is what's in my head is more interesting then what's going on outside of it.

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