This article can also be found at Degree180.
If you’re an introvert like I am then you’ve probably been mistakenly associated with at least one of these things at some point in your life. Here are five common myths about introverts that need some clearing up:
1. Introverts are Shy and Withdrawn
Introversion is not synonymous with “shyness.” These two things certainly aren’t mutually exclusive, but they are often confused with one another. Psychology Today states that “[an introvert’s] disposition is frequently misconstrued as shyness, social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder.” Conversely, extrovert isn’t synonymous with “outgoing.”
2. Introverts are Lonely
Starting in childhood we’re taught to believe that being alone is a bad thing. After all, a person who’s alone must be sad! There is in fact quite a difference between someone who is alone because they’re lonely and someone who is alone because they just really treasure their alone time. I fall into the latter group. I’ve lived alone for the past year and I’ve loved every precious second of it. I can come home from work without having to worry about making stupid small talk with roommates when all I really want to do is make myself some dinner and watch YouTube videos in peace.
3. Introverts Hate Socializing
You may or may not have seen this t-shirt make its way around the internet. Sure it’s good for a laugh, but it’s also pretty inaccurate. Again, being introverted doesn’t mean you’re a loner who hates people; we introverts can still enjoy social things such as parties. We just need a break afterward to re-energize and to be alone with our thoughts. Extroverts, on the other hand, gain energy from being around people and may need to be around people after being alone for a period of time.
4. Introverts are Quiet People
Being introverted has literally nothing to do with how loud your voice is or how outgoing you are. Sure, some introverts are certainly quiet people but being a quiet person isn’t a prerequisite for being introverted.
5. “You’re So Quiet!” is a Great Conversation-Starter
And last but not least is one of my all-time pet peeves. Telling someone they’re quiet isn’t a compliment. It’s usually code for: “why aren’t you talking you weird loner? You’re too reserved and you’re boring me.” For your information, I wasn’t talking because I have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation, thank you very much. I’m not “too shy,” or “too reserved” to join in.
When it comes down to it, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert depends on where you get your energy from, not how outgoing or shy you are. Huffington Post summed it up in an interview with introverted author Sophia Dembling:
“The description that introverts seem to relate most strongly to is the idea that Jung presented, that introverts are drained of energy by interaction, and gain energy in solitude and quiet, whereas extroverts gain energy in social situations with interaction…It seems to be most strongly an energy thing – where you get your energy and what takes it out of you.”