Demystifying the introvert

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I came across a great post last week, 10 myths about introverts, and just had to share my take here!

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
Carl argues that we simply don’t bother talking unless we have something to say – and on topics we care about, we won’t shut up. This is true. But personally? It also depends on the person I’m talking to. Some just kind of draw you in. Others, you can’t wait to escape from no matter what the subject of conversation.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Well, I am shy. And yes, I am a little afraid of people, and very socially nervous. Making the first move, approaching people, reading gestures and navigating conversational flow – I die. (I am very good when people tour the office however; all I have to do is say my name, smile, make a couple of smart/funny comments, and then they move on. No time for awkwardness to ensue.) But I get what he means – shyness is not a prerequisite for introversion, although they do often go together.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Carl reckons we have no patience for social pleasantries and find them exhausting. For sure! Small talk can be incredibly draining. But it can also be quite rewarding, that feeling that you’ve connected with another human being, on whatever level. I still find the “Hi, how are you?” routine awfully tedious, but I can play that game (it’s easier to fake on the phone). I used to have a lot of issues with maintaining eye contact, and I still can’t stand still without shuffling and fidgeting – plus I never know exactly how to stand or what to do with my arms, which can definitely come across as rude or bored.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
Er. I’m torn on this one. There are a lot of people I don’t like, which I may have decided upon meeting you once or twice, or many times. But sure, the good people, I love. Which I suppose goes for anybody, introvert or extrovert.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
I think it’s universally agreed that we don’t have a problem with going out per se, but that we can’t sustain it indefinitely. We need to go home, process it all and recharge. By ourselves. I also like this: “They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.”

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
See previous myth. Also, we often do better in one-on-ones and small groups. Plus we like ourselves enough to enjoy our own company. Not all the time, but a fair bit of it. T hates being at home alone. Me, I look forward to getting back to my haven.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
You say tomayto, I say tomahto. I don’t think I’m weird, I’m just not a socialite and while most people my age prefer to party it up on a weekend, I’d rather try my hand at making yoghurt, for example.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Carl: Introverts are people who primarily look inward… 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. I have to admit, I’m not the most observant (and I partly attribute that to my lack of multitasking ability. Also, a terrible memory). If I don’t care about something or I don’t find it interesting, I’ll ask questions – I’m a journo – but I can’t fake enthusiasm. This also reminds me of how, when I was younger, I would pretend I was a living book character, and as I went about daily life, I narrated events in my head. “She stared blankly past her father, focusing instead on the patch of wallpaper peeling away from the doorjamb…”

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Everyone’s definition of fun varies. And yes, mine sometimes involves dancing and laughing and somewhat social activity, but 90% of the time it’s quiet, individualistic pursuits – baking, blogging, playing music, reading, taking photos.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Do I even need to?

17 thoughts on “Demystifying the introvert

  • Reply Christy June 27, 2011 at 23:38

    My parents have done a lot of work with Myers-Briggs personality type research. My Mom – who is an introvert like me – always says that the key to an introvert is not that they can’t interact with people – she is a religious minister and I am a teacher so we are surrounded by people all of the time – but that they find it draining. An introvert needs to be alone to recharge. An extrovert (like my Dad) gains energy from other people – for an introvert it’s the opposite.

  • Reply AlottaLettuce June 28, 2011 at 06:38

    Thanks for this post. I’ll admit, I have a really hard time relating to, understanding and appreciating people who are shy. To someone like me – who is very outgoing – shyness often reads like an unwillingness to care or contribute. I especially struggle with shy people in meetings, because I have little patience for people who never seem to bring anything to the table.

    That said, I think I am often perceived as being an extrovert BECAUSE I’m outgoing, but in reality, I think I’m actually a bit of an introvert. At the very least, I’ve become more introverted in the past few years.

    Sure, I can speak up at meetings, make small talk with strangers, go out and have a great time with friends, and do all of the other things that people associate with extroverts…

    But I also love being alone and/or sitting in silence with other people. And even though I’m good at small talk, I actually HATE it – especially with strangers. I also hate networking for the same reason. And when I go out and have a great time with friends, I’m always happy to get home at the end of the night.

    So I think in reality, I’m either an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert. Ha!

  • Reply chipsforsupper June 28, 2011 at 07:10

    I am definitely an introvert. But last year one of my coworkers called me an extravert, mostly because I engage the students and enthusiastic about math and science. So for little while it actually confused me, wondering how people see me as an extravert when I’m not. But, for me, this just goes against Myth #1. In general, I’m not that out going and only act and talk that way at work

  • Reply Kara June 28, 2011 at 08:10

    This list is hilarious! “Introverts are weird.” What? As an introvert, I think extroverts are weird. Tomayto, tomahto, indeed!

  • Reply cantaloupe June 28, 2011 at 09:23

    I used to be more of an introvert and now I’m more of an extrovert, so Myth #10 is true, actually. I’m not saying it’s a change necessary for everyone, but I knew I was an introverted type and I felt like I would get further in life as an extrovert, so I faked it until I made it. I still have moments where I revert to being an introvert though (like right now when I’m in blog world.) I guess that maybe, just maybe, nobody is totally an introvert or totally an extrovert…

  • Reply Serendipity June 28, 2011 at 13:01

    Oh wow. Rambo had all of those traits. I’ve known for awhile he was an introvert but I don’t see anything wrong with it. He does good at faking being a people person at work, but by the end of the day, he’s so drained he chooses to hide in his bat cave aka our living room. I don’t see anything wrong though with being that way, everyone is different. ANd I agree with you on Myth 10, you certainly don’t need to change, you are wonderful just the way you are E.e!

  • Reply Travis Pizel June 28, 2011 at 17:45

    A few years ago I heard the same Introvert vs Extrovert description that Christy (1st commenter) used. I’m a big time introvert – I’m a team lead at work, and my wife and I entertain rather frequently. But it’s absolutely exhausting. Eventually I need to go off in a corner and just be *alone* for awhile to recharge. It’s one of the reasons I stay up hours later than the rest of my family. I have to deal with people constantly all day at work, and I don’t get time to just be by myself, I get extremely stressed and agitated.

  • Reply Link Love: Typos, Introverts, and more — carrie actually July 2, 2011 at 03:02

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  • Reply Financial Samurai July 2, 2011 at 16:27

    I find that introverts are kinda freaky in bed. What do you think of this? Sorry if I’m being crass, but just sharing my thoughts.

  • Reply Kerry July 5, 2011 at 06:35

    Another thing to keep in mind is that introverts and extroverts process information differently. And introverts can be drained as much by too much information to process as they are by too much people contact.

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  • Reply Vera August 15, 2011 at 11:00

    This is so scarily accurate I’m almost tempted to look behind me to check if you’re standing there with a camera. This is so completely true, down to the book character… I often imagine myself somehow narrating my life from an outsider’s perspective to pass time. It’s one of the fastest way to alleviate boredom or make it easier to queue.

    Oh and high-five for the having fun part. I should print this out and force people to read it every time I am asked if I am a religious nut because I’m not a party animal.

  • Reply Four years of blogging | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander August 29, 2012 at 22:49

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  • Reply sharon March 7, 2013 at 13:52

    As a natural introvert I’ve been called the ‘weakest link’ of the staff of ballroom dance instructors. I was told that I would never succeed. I’m really glad to see a post like this. Hopefully people can realize that being an introvert is not a weakness!

  • Reply Erika April 28, 2013 at 02:15

    This is interesting… I’m technically an extrovert, but I really identify with most of the things you said in this — I feel the same way! (They do say that ENFPs are the most introverted of the extroverts, though!) I think I get my stimuli from something outside of me (Extroverted Intuition), but I like to spend time thinking about it rather than interacting with it (Introverted Feeling). I’m borderline, though, and my friends call me one of the most introspective people they know — and I probably socialize (at this point of my life) less than most people I know. But I think it’s the environment more than being an introvert thing.

    OKAY! Long enough comment, haha! Thanks for sharing this!

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