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13 Misconceptions & Myths About Introverts

Individual wearing a hoody sitting in the middle of empty room.

Being an introvert can be difficult in part because many people do not quite understand them. Since most of the world is dominated by extroverts and extroverted ideals, people of an introverted disposition often feel forced to adopt a persona that extroverts seem to take for granted as suitable for everyone.

The recent proliferation of pro-introvert sentiment promoted by modern psychologists and thought leaders has popularized the introvert as something of a unicorn who should be lauded and valued for their differences, not “fixed” or shoe-horned into the extrovert mold. Being an introvert has even become trendy such that even some extroverts will try to portray themselves as one just to appear more “edgy” and intelligent.

Even with the advent of introvert culture,  there are still a number of misconceptions regarding the way introverts operate. Here is a list of myths about introverts that you can forget about.

1. Introverts don’t like to talk.

It’s not that introverts dislike talking per se. They just don’t care for small talk or talking for the sake of talking. They don’t have the urge to verbalize everything that crosses their mind and instead prefer to speak only when they have something they truly want to say. Many introverts would love to connect with someone on their wavelength and ramble incessantly about things that are meaningful to them.

2. Introverts are shy.

Many introverts may very well be shy but introversion is not synonymous with shyness. Extroverts can be shy too but with introverts, their lack of interaction is mostly due to a lack of interest rather than a fear of people. Introverts need a reason to socialize because they don’t thrive on attention the way extroverts do.

3. Introverts are rude.

Introverts tend to develop their own set of ethics and values independent of what is socially expected of them. They may not observe every social cue or etiquette and may be tone deaf about what is and isn’t appropriate. Introverts generally don’t mean any disrespect, but can be awkward about pleasantries and social foreplay and may be very terse and curt in the way they communicate until they become more comfortable.

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4. Introverts don’t like people.

Just because introverts aren’t social butterflies, doesn’t mean they’re misanthropes. If anything, introverts just want to connect with people on meaningful terms rather than form a multitude of casual acquaintances. Introverts tend to be more selective about their relationships and the ones they do form, they cherish deeply.

5. Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Introverts love their quiet time and having a space all to themselves, but that doesn’t mean they’re complete shut ins with no desire to go out in public. They simply want to do so for shorter durations than what extroverts prefer. Being out in public among the masses drains their batteries more quickly due to their heightened sensitivity to sensory stimulus. They like going out with their friends but they will not want to tag along to every outing they get invited to.

6. Introverts always want to be alone.

Introverts are comfortable being alone with their own thoughts, daydreaming and doing what they enjoy doing. They are able to let lose and be free in a way their self-conscious inhibitions would not allow in the presence of others. Nevertheless, introverts still desire companionship and to have someone with whom they can share their inner world and be themselves. They prefer to have one-on-one engagement rather than large groups of people.

7. Introverts are weirdos.

Because introverts aren’t group oriented, they tend to march to their own drum which may appear to others as out of sync and off-beat. Introverts are often individualists and many of them are very creative. Because they don’t follow the crowd or jump on the trendy bandwagon, their interests and behavior patterns may appear eccentric and deviate from the norm. Introverts appreciate things that are unique and different and meaningful but people who don’t understand them just interpret that as “weird”.

8. Introverts are aloof nerds.

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. 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.

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9. Introverts are boring.

Introverts can seem like uptight and joyless boors who want to stay home all the time. They can appear boring on the outside but their impassive demeanor often belies the remarkable imagination they possess. Their inner world is highly active and the ideas that flow through their heads are often anything but dull.  Most people will not realize this because introverts suppress their quirkiness due to their social inhibitions but they often express it in their art and writing.

10. Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.

It’s a bit insulting to introverts when others try to suggest that they should be like extraverts. Their temperament is not a personality flaw that needs to be reformed, in fact being introverted is intellectually advantageous. Introverts have contributed much to the world and many if not most of the our scientists, musicians, artists, mathematicians and writers are bonafide introverts. Introversion tends to cultivate a greater depth of insight and understanding on account of all the introspection and studying they do.

11. Introverts don’t make good leaders or public speakers.

Despite their lack of interest in social activity, some introverts are motivated to take leadership roles especially around enterprises that they initiated themselves. As leaders, introverts may display a different style of leadership than that of extroverts, and many of our most notable iconic leaders were introverts including Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, and Bill Gates. Statistics have shown that roughly 4 in 10 top executives test as introverts. As public speakers, introverts have been found to often be more aureate and effective communicators due in part to the amount of preparation and thought that goes into what they say.

12. Introverts are more intellectual or creative than extroverts.

One stereotype that introverts have going for them is that they are typically perceived as smarter and more gifted than extroverts. Introverts do not have the market cornered on creativity or intelligence but it is believed that the most brilliant ideas come from introspection and intensive reflection. Introvert aren’t intrinsically more innovative or creative but an introverted mindset may be more conducive for the arts and sciences.

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13. It’s easy to tell whether someone is introverted or extroverted.

Many introverts are able to socialize well enough that they are mistaken for extroverts. In the Myers-Briggs, the INFJ personality type is known for this. Introverts are social creatures as well, but no matter how well they appear to hobnob, they will seek to recharge with alone time. Due to our culture’s bias towards extroverted personality traits, many introverts have become accustomed to being the wolf in sheep’s clothing — behaving like an extrovert in social situations, and perhaps acting more outspoken and gregarious than they feel on the inside.

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Jetta Moon

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