One of the most frustrating introvert problems we innies face is the constant struggle against unflattering introvert myths and stereotypes. Many people still believe that all introverts are shy, anti-social, socially inept and even unattractive.
Inferior personality type?
They assume that introverts are an inferior personality type. Often when I tell people I have a website for introverts, they ask if I help introverts to become more extroverted – as if being introverted is some kind of disease that needs to be cured. Well, of course it is not.
But sometimes it feels like we’ll never be able to fully overcome all the introvert myths.
The truth is, the more self-assured and confident we become with our true introverted selves, the more people will crinkle their brows at us and refuse to believe we are introverted.
Why they don’t believe you
This happens to me all the time. Whenever I meet someone new and tell them I am an introvert, about 90% of the time they say something like, “but you can’t be an introvert, you’re so friendly”. And then I tell them (with as much patience and kindness as I can muster) that they probably have the wrong idea of what an introvert actually is. I say that there are a lot of misconceptions about introversion and that the real definition of an introvert is someone who is drained by overly stimulating environments and social interactions.
A glimmer of hope
The wonderful, glorious, encouraging thing is that most of the time, they are genuinely interested in learning this information. I can see the flicker of understanding in their eyes. I can tell that they aren’t ignorant or mean-spirited. They have simply been misinformed for a very long time.
So, there is hope!
I’ve found that the best way to overcome people’s negative perceptions about introversion is to set the record straight in the most clear concise way possible. And to do it with confidence.
I used to feel embarrassed to tell people that I had a website about introversion. I worried that they would think I was weird, and anti-social. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. Ashamed.
Now I am embarrassed to admit this to you because being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of. To be honest, the moment I started wearing my introversion proudly, I realized that people weren’t judging me. Most decent human beings out there (and I am certain that most human being are decent) want to know the truth about things that matter. They don’t want to carry on living in ignorance. They simply need someone to gently tell them that what they’ve been told are lies.
An encouraging story
Yesterday, after the dust had settled from the madness of my free webcast, I decided to take the afternoon off and have an inhale afternoon. I rode my bike along the ocean and then found a patch of grass where I could read, daydream and do my daily affirmations.
A man sitting nearby engaged me in conversation. He said whatever I was thinking about, I looked really happy. When I told him about my website he said, “but you’re not an introvert are you? You don’t seem like an introvert.” At which point I launched into my well-oiled response explaining the true definition of an introvert. His eyes lit up with understanding. “I really admire introverts, he said. I wish I could be okay with being alone more. I’ve been working on that for the past 15 years.”
One small step for introverts, one giant leap for all mankind. 😉
Have you encountered many introvert myths?
Have you ever tried to avoid telling people you’re an introvert for the same reasons I mentioned?
Please do share your comments below.
He. Most people don’t believe me when I tell I’m an introvert. They usually confuse “extravert” with “outgoing” (it’s fault of the Spanish language. “Extrovertido” is a somewhat spread word, where “Desinhibido” is a word that almost anybody knows).
But when I get drained (not usually, after all, I am cautious with my energy) and start getting unresponsive, angry, depressed or acting irrationally, they have to believe me. I just wish they believed me right from the start instead of when THAT happens…
Keep it up! This blog is great!
P.S.: There was one curious case when somebody believed me from the start but still acts as if I was an extravert.
Usually when I tell people I’m an introvert, they ask “What’s an introvert?” So I explain it to them and they’re just like “Oh, so you’re shy?”
Haha, yes I’ve heard that before, to. 🙂
Man, yes! I get that – the language of energy/inner and outer orientation to the world etc is so alien to us generally. It is easier for people to use the dualistic view of quiet/loud, outgoing/unsociable, confident/shy where it really doesn’t and can’t apply to introverts, because at the end of the day even the introvert/extrovert dualism can be a misnomer because we might allow it to define and box us in to find our identity as either one or the other.
Well said, Andy. 🙂
I’m an introvert who thinks best when she talks through a thought or problem with another person, who needs a lot of structure at work but who doesn’t naturally think of clarifying questions (who, what, when, where, etc.), who often enjoys being in or around social situation (if I don’t feel that anything’s expected of me–in those cases I’m stressed) as long as the noise level doesn’t overwhelm me–noise is my biggest drainer as my brain tries to process all the sounds/voices. I find it quite annoying when I’m accused of hiding to avoid being in a group; I’m not hiding, I’m delaying the return to noise in order to recharge and breathe easily. As I’ve learned more about myself recently, my confidence has improved.
Thanks for your comment, Lys! Wonderful to hear your confidence is improving. And, I agree that too much noise is really draining and stressful! Even the sound of cars is irritating.
I used to have a sign hanging in my work area that proclaimed “I’m not unfriendly…I’m an introvert. Now leave me alone.” It was, I thought, a lighthearted way of informing people that I’m introverted without actually TELLING them because when I think of TELLING people that I’m an introvert I’m uneasy with it. In my mind it sounds like I’m making an excuse for not being “better” (ie: for not being what I “should” be or am “expected” to be or what they want me to be).
Although I normally don’t trouble myself with others’ social expectations for me I can’t shake the idea that telling people “I’m an introvert” somehow SOUNDS like an excuse: “Grouchy? No, I’m an introvert!” “Quiet today? Yes, I’m an introvert!” Granted, I could (and often do) say “Grouchy? No, I had a lot of things to focus on today!” or “Quiet? Yes, there was a lot of work to get through today!” but those explanations don’t tell people “I’m an introvert” they merely address the “concern” at hand without seeping into the self-revelatory. Sometimes, though, I do “make excuses” – “Grouchy today? Yes, I didn’t get much sleep last night.” but the difference between “I didn’t get much sleep last night” (whether or not it is true) and “I’m an introvert” is that the former is likely to rectify itself shortly (I’ll sleep better tonight) whereas the latter isn’t (because I’m going to be an introvert tomorrow, too).
I guess it’s never late to join the conversation. I’ve seen these situations where people think I’m shy and need help with that or I’m simply weird lol. Nowadays I try to be more kind with people. Like giving a smile when someone looks at me or someone new enters into my physical environment and that has helped me to be more “accepted” I guess. Now I get comments of me having a quite nature more than being shy just because I’ve tried to show myself a little without words. I’m not anti-social because I smile and are kind to people I just don’t speak a lot and that’s ok with most persons, others might think I’m dumb or whatever but is not the usual response. You are right in your idea that there’s kindness out there and people really answer to that.
I’ve encountered many myths and misconceptions about introverts. Not only the most common myth we dislike people or that we are just shy, not self-confident and insecure. Also that we are simply rude (described even in less polite words than that). The thing we seem to be detached and reserved is usually mistaken for impoliteness and insolence. It leads to opinions we are hardly hospitable and aloof antisocial types. With such misconceptions the image of us in other people’s minds is altered negatively and we sometimes encounter reactions most prejudiced.
I’m not an introvert but I’m a loner. What I’m am dealing with is trying to understand what an introvert really is all about because my girlfriend of 4yrs is. This past 3 months she said she didn’t want to be in a relationship right now yet on the other hand she says she still wants me and we text or talk regularly. I know she needs her own time but I need to educate myself on this so that I’m aware of what I may be doing that could be counterproductive to our relationship. If there’s anything out there like a ‘book for dummies’ like me, I would appreciate any such information.