Are you an introvert or an extrovert? (Not sure? Click here to take the quiz.)
Did your results annoy you as much as mine did?
I know I’m an introvert, but out of curiosity, I took the quiz. This is what I got:
You avoid people at all costs
You aren’t one for social interaction
And you limit your interaction to a select few
Thank God for self checkout!
Uh. Really now?
I absolutely resent that. Some of them have nuggets of truth, but are hidden behind unfair exaggeration. And this is the reason for my post.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about introverts, and I’d like to clear the air.
Let’s start by defining introversion and extraversion. There are plenty of sites and in-depth articles that dive deeper into this, but I’m gonna make it easy.
It’s as simple as answering this question: When you’re in a social setting for a while, generally, how do you feel? Energized or depleted?
If you’re an introvert – stellar, me too! Then this one’s for you. If you’re an extrovert, I’m not hatin’ – you’re totally welcome here. In fact, I’d love for you to read on and hear your take.
So you know, at the most basic, objective level, how introverts and extroverts differ.
I can’t speak from the shoes of an extrovert. (Well, I suppose I could slip into an extrovert’s shoes, but I don’t imagine that’d have the same effect…)
I don’t know what it’s like to be one. But I can give you a little perspective on life as an introvert.
Being an introvert can be hard, especially as a 24 year-old, supposedly in my partying prime.
Making new friends is quite the challenge - always ducking invites to go out to loud, crowded gatherings, when I’d rather go to a quiet, one-on-one dinner.
How about job interviews? Don’t even get me started. Just check out some recent job postings – how many of them are looking for a quiet, reflective individual who works well alone? ZE-RO. It’s all about extraversion – you gotta be outgoing, work well in groups, be a real go-getter.
Oh and dating? I’m glad to be out of that messy scene. Most men, especially my age, are not down for the introversion. You gotta know how to party, be a social butterfly, and stay out ’til the sun bids you goodnight.
Being an introvert, in itself, is draining. When the extroverts of the world expect you to party when all you wanna do is curl up and read a good book, that pressure can really get to you.
Can you relate?
I bet, then, that you can also relate to some of the crap-tastic “facts” you’ve heard about introverts. You know, these:
- Introverts are shy. Mmm, nope. Shy people are shy. An introvert could be shy, or vice versa, but one doesn’t necessarily indicate the other. Introverts aren’t necessarily afraid of interacting with others, they just like doing it in a different way.
- Introverts are boring. This is totally unfair. You know what I say? Different strokes for different folks. Maybe extroverts have a different idea of fun, but that doesn’t make me boring by default. I happen to think that introverts are fabulous and fascinating (biased, maybe?). So maybe we don’t go out all the time, or stay for the whole party – but when we’re there, we’re awesome.
- Introverts are anti-social. Maybe I don’t want to hang with friends every single day, but it doesn’t mean I never want to. Introverts like to be social too, just not all day every day.
- Introverts hate talking. False…ish. I don’t hate all talking. I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of small talk – too much of it is draining. But engage me in deep conversation on something I’m passionate about? Good luck shutting me up. It’s all about what kind of talking we’re doing. Introverts tend to be quiet because they don’t speak for the sake of speaking. We wait until we have something we really wanna say.
- Introverts are depressed. Maybe some are – but so are some extroverts. The assumption is that, because we’re quiet and withdrawn, we must be depressed. I’m glad to report that this is absolutely not true – I’m perfectly content, blissful even, when I’m alone with a good book. Nothin’ sad about it.
- Introverts are lonely. There’s a huge difference between alone and lonely. Lonely is when you want company but can’t find any, when you crave human connection but find yourself lacking. Introverts typically enjoy being alone – there’s nothin’ lonely about it to them.
- Introverts just need to get out more. Um, no, we don’t. In fact, we need to get out less. We absorb information quickly, and so easily become oversaturated and overstimulated. Getting out more is the opposite of what we need. Besides, this “factoid” suggests that we are “fixable.” Sorry, extraverted world, but there’s nothin’ to fix here. Shock therapy isn’t gonna change your nature, so please don’t try. (I’ve done it – it doesn’t go well.)
These are just a few of the myths that have plagued me for most of my life. Because of them, for a long time, I resented myself for being an introvert.
I thought there was something wrong with me – why couldn’t I stay out in a crowd until 2am? Why did I start getting spacey and withdrawn after a few hours?
As far as I was concerned, I was the worst 20-something ever.
That’s a thought I still sometimes battle. When I’m at a get-together and I clam up after a while, when I’d prefer to stay in and read on a Friday night…I start to beat myself up.
Whyyyy can’t I just be extraverted like everyone else?! my ego whines.
Because I’m not. And as I’ve learned, the comparison game isn’t doing anybody any favors.
I’ll just let them do their thing and I’ll do mine…even if that is playing the Sims 3 alone on a Saturday night. (guilty pleasure!)
Join me, friends, and bask in your introverted glory!
Peace, love and a steaming cup of Zen,
p.s. I don’t want this to be an us-against-them kinda thing. Extroverts and introverts alike have unique contributions to make in this world. I just feel that my fellow introverts can be…misunderstood. And I wanted to offer some clarification. Extroverts out there, I love you too.