Below is a blog post I wrote back in 2011 on a subject I am familiar with–the life of an introvert. Are you an introvert? What type? I’m a Social Introvert, meaning I need a lot of alone time, but I have no trouble interacting with groups of people. I thought my fellow introverts might find this enlightening!
Scrolling through my feed reader this morning I stumbled upon Theodora Goss’ post Introversion: Part 1; which is a response to Carl King’s post 10 Myths about Introverts. As an introvert, I thought I’d see how King’s response to these myths compares to my own experiences.
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.
I can confirm King’s argument. No, I don’t talk a lot with just anyone. But if it happens to be a topic I’m passionate about I have been known to jump into a conversation whether I know people or not (this is how I met artist Charles Urbach and ended up in the Dragon Con Art Show last year). That said I’m always more comfortable with close friends and I can talk for hours and hours with them.
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.
I use to be very shy as a child and young teen, but not so much anymore. Even so, as Myth 1 pointed out I’m not super chatty unless its warranted. I can definitely do without the pleasantries. If I’m in a group of people and not talking much, it’s because I don’t have anything to say, or I’m keeping my mouth shut for a good reason, or I’m more interested in observing everyone around me. Now you know.
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.
I’ve never had any desire to fit in with the herd, but as a teenager I did feel extremely out-of-place, to point that I thought something was wrong with me. I learned later there was nothing wrong with me and since then I’ve been at one with my introverted self. I still have no desire to play the game, but I can pull it off in situations where its required.
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.
I do value my very few close friends and I’ve always been the type to have just a small set of friends. Usually out of that small group I have someone who I am uber close with, someone that knows all my secrets, but I haven’t had a friend like that in years. Sounds kinda sad, doesn’t it? If I’m honest, I know it should seem sad, but I’m not really bothered by it.
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.
I wouldn’t be able to survive if I didn’t have my down time, a.k.a. recharging time. The rest is spot on too. I like to go out, but on my own terms. For example, you won’t find me at a sports event but you might catch me at a book store, coffee shop, museum, etc. I go to ginormous SFF Conventions, strange buildings to be trapped in a room with a zombie, dinners with friends, and I have fun but I do feel drained afterwards. That’s just how I am.
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.
True again. I am alone most of the time and I’m fine with that, in fact I’m content with that–most of the time. Whenever I start feeling antsy I know I need to meet up with a friend to talk for hours, catch a movie, etc. I have limits to how much time I can spend alone, just as I have limits to how much time I can spend with a group of people.
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.
To quote Eddie Vedder: “I change, by not changing at all.” I like what I like. Sometimes that may make me stylish other times not. I don’t give it a lot of thought. I’d rather be painting.
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.
Yes and I also happen to be one of those people that will laugh out loud about something I’m thinking, whether I’m alone or not. I easily become lost in thought. Sometimes it happens when I’m in the middle of a movie or reading a book. I can sit for hours just staring at the fields and birds, imagining a dragon coming over the hill.
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.
True. But now you’re thinking, how does she handle Dragon Con? It’s a different type of crowd and I’m surrounded by people who love the same things I do. If you want to see me shut down, send me to a shopping mall for the entire day or a Walmart with those awful florescent lights–grocery stores for that matter too. I can handle those in small doses, not hours on end with loud people. Sometimes even an hour food shopping can put me in a foul mood.
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 “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.
Even if I could, would I want to “fix myself?” I don’t think there’s anything to fix. A world without Introverts…. No.
I’ve never sat down and talked about being an introvert with another introvert. I’d be curious to know how my responses compare. Any takers? Are you an introvert? What type?