As an introvert, I’m well aware of the many misconceptions floating around about us. I have come face to face with introvert myths on several occasions. Until recently, this made me feel self-conscious about telling people that I am an introvert. Even though I am an introvert blogger, who encourages my fellow innies to spread the word about introversion, I used to cringe whenever I ‘came out’ as an introvert.
I tensed up and held my breath as I anticipated the onslaught of stereotypes and judgments. The common reaction was for others to immediately assume that I am anti-social and/or shy. If I happened to meet a person when my energy levels were at their peak (which is common because that is when I tend to go out and meet people), they refused to believe that I am an introvert. “You’re not an introvert,” they would say. “You’re so outgoing and confident.” In other words, I’m not the shy, grimacing recluse that they believed all introverts to be.
In recent months, I have become a champion of not caring what people think. Not to brag, but I’ve pretty much nailed the whole self-acceptance thing. As a result, I don’t worry about how people will react when I tell them I’m an introvert (by the way, If you don’t want to tell people you’re an introvert, don’t create a blog specifically about introversion). I no longer cringe as I wait for their reaction, or worry that they will think less of me.
Nowadays, their response is often, “my husband is an introvert,” or “I just read an article about introversion,” or “so, you get your energy from being alone.” To which I cheer a silent “hallelujah!” because I don’t have to explain myself. But, of course, there are many people who still live under a dark cloud of ignorance about introversion. Bless their souls.
I met one such person the other day. It was a one-on-one encounter. I felt comfortable, energized and very engaged by the conversation – an ideal social scenario for an introvert.
When I told this person I was an introvert, he simply could not believe it. “No, you’re not an introvert. “ he said, “You’re so outgoing and friendly. You’re not shy at all.” Obviously he had bought into the misconception that all introverts are timid and unfriendly.
I can’t blame him for his lack of knowledge about us. Clearly he didn’t read any of the viral introvert listicles that made the social media rounds in 2013; He hadn’t seen Susan Cain’s popular TED talk about the power of introverts. And he had never met an introvert blogger. It was up to me to enlighten him about the other side of the personality spectrum – a side that is not darker or lighter nor better or worse. Just different.
I told him that introverts can be confident, friendly, sociable and pretty much anything else we want to be. I explained how we lose energy during social interactions and gain it when we are alone. It was Introverts 101 in less than 60 seconds. More importantly, it was an opportunity to change someone’s wrongful perception about over one third of the human population.
Just another day’s work in the life of an ‘out of the closet’ introvert. 😛