There are quite a few misconceptions out there about introverts, and as an introvert myself, I think that it can be a bit frustrating and annoying to so often hear these.
In this blog post I will be sharing about some of these misconceptions, as well as sharing some of my own experiences. Firstly, I want to briefly explain what introversion and extroversion actually mean.
Introversion: The definition of an introvert is someone who feels drained after social interactions and needs to be alone in order to regain their energy. prefers alone time rather than spending time with others. Those with this personality trait may also prefer calm and quiet environments rather than large and loud environments.
Extroversion: The definition of an extrovert is someone who enjoys and feels energised by interacting and spending time with other people. Just as an introvert recharges in their alone or quiet time, extroverts recharge by being around other people.
There are also those who often fall somewhere in the middle between the two. These people are known to be ambiverts. An ambivert is someone who enjoys social interactions and may be energised by it, but who also needs their alone time to recharge. Extroverted-Introvert is another term that people may use to describe people who display traits of both. Their social energy may also vary depending on their environment.
All introverts are quiet or reserved
One of the most common misconceptions is that all introverts are quiet and reserved. This can be true for many introverts. I don’t consider myself to be a very outgoing person or a social butterfly and I have never really been, so to some extent this is true for me. Although, when I was a young child, I was less reserved, and I used to be very chatty at home or with people that I felt comfortable around. My mom tells me that I talked about almost anything and was rarely quiet. But over the years I would say that I became a lot more reserved. Nowadays I don’t like to share all my thoughts and sometimes I find it harder to also do so. I also tend to be very quiet in social situations or when I am around people who are not family, but this is mostly due to me having Selective Mutism and not necessarily always due to me being an introvert. When I am around my family or around those I am comfortable with, I can either be very talkative or very quiet. Sometimes I have a lot to say and sometimes I don’t. There is so much more to me than this ‘quiet’ person that most people see.
But this is a misconception because not all introverts are always quiet and reserved. Extraversion and introversion is really more about how a person gains energy and rechargers and not always so much about how outgoing or quiet a person is. But this is what most people think of when they hear these two terms. Many people think that they are interchangeable, but that is not always the case. Some introverted people can actually sometimes be very outgoing. Sometimes people may refer to them as the “outgoing introverts.” They might have no problem volunteering for a school project or holding down a job where good social skills are required. They may have a few or many friends, and have no problem holding down a conversation with others. You might occasionally find them at a party or social event, but they can only take so much before they start to feel drained from socialising. They may sometimes even be the life of the party and because of this others may not believe them when they tell you that they are introverted.
Introverts don’t like to socialise with other people
There may be a running joke out there that says that we don’t like people or to spend time with others. I probably have joked about this myself, if I’m honest. But this is absolutely not true. It’s not that we don’t like people, but that we often find socialising to be very draining and need time to recharge afterwards. An introvert’s social battery is much shorter compared to that of an extrovert’s. Our social battery’s tends to be quickly depleted. I have had many moments where my social battery just runs out of nowhere when around family or friends. When this happens I feel that I usually become tired and that it becomes harder for me to be social around others.
It most likely has nothing to do with you as a person. I love my family, but I often need to shut myself in my own room for a while and be alone. Thankfully they understand this as I’m not the only introverted person in our family. It helps when others understand our need for solitude and doesn’t take it personally. I have heard of situations where someone’s family members or friends are not as understanding of their introverted traits.
While I need and value my alone time, it doesn’t mean that I never want to or enjoy spending any time with family or friends. Just like an extrovert may sometimes want or need alone time, introverts also need others in their life. Some researchers say that no one is actually 100% introverted or extroverted, but rather that people tend to fall more to one side than the other. Introverts may not have a hundreds of friends, but they care much more about the quality of their friends rather than the quantity of friends.
Introverts don’t like to go out
While it’s true that many introverts are considered to be homebodies, that doesn’t mean that we don’t ever like to go out. Personally, I prefer the comfort of my home, much more than public and outdoor places. I definitely see myself as more of a homebody. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like going out from time to time. Sometimes I actually find myself craving to leave the house when I have spent too much time being indoors. Yes, it’s true that we may much prefer to spend the evening indoors reading a good book or watching tv, but we do occasionally enjoy going out.
All introverts are shy or have social anxiety
While some introverts may be shy or struggle with social anxiety, they are not the same thing and don’t always go hand in hand. Many people often assume that when they meet a person with social anxiety or shyness that they are just naturally an introverted person, but that isn’t always the case. Extroverted people are just as likely to be shy or struggle with social anxiety.
I am an introvert that struggles with social anxiety as well, but I know that there is a difference between the two. Social anxiety is a mental health condition, whereas introversion is a personality trait. There is a difference from feeling anxious in social situations and feeling drained from them. People who are introverted feel drained from social interactions, but may not necessarily always feel anxious about them. Growing up I remember that it was sometimes difficult for me to differentiate between the two, but nowadays it’s become much easier to do so. I am able to know the difference between when I am alone because I want to or because I need time to recharge, and when I am alone or even avoiding others because of anxiety.
As a child and at home, I have many memories of were I would be playing by myself. Whether it was imaginary play or with toys, I would enjoy my own company and rarely felt bored. In school, I also have some memories of were I would maybe be sitting or standing alone in a corner, but this was different from home because due to my struggles with selective mutism and social anxiety, I couldn’t always join in the activities with other peers even when I wanted to. At home I felt comfortable and could be myself, but in school and in certain other social situations my anxiety held me back.
With this said, it’s important to remember that the student who sits alone in class or during lunch break may be introverted, and not be suffering from anxiety. But it’s important to keep an eye out on these students because they are often overlooked. Introverted students may not always be the first to raise their hands in class, and this is often because they need time to think or process the information first. These students may be misunderstood or labelled as shy or quiet because of this. I have always found group discussions extra difficult whether in school or maybe even church as I find that I often don’t have any time to think and formulate the words. With Selective Mutism as well it can make it even more challenging for me to speak in these situations.
Introverts don’t like to have fun
Some people may think that introverts are boring or don’t like to have fun because they may not want to attend a certain event or party, or because of the fact that they are sometimes more laid-back. But this doesn’t mean that we don’t like to have fun. An extrovert’s idea of fun may be to spend the evening outdoors with friends, or to attend a party or large gathering, whereas an introvert’s idea of fun may look more like spending the evening indoors or meeting up with a smaller group of friends. Our idea of fun may differ from yours, and there is nothing wrong with that.
I hope that this blog post has helped to clear some misconceptions for you about introverts. What are some more myths that you are tired of hearing?