Being an introvert in a world full of extroverts was very difficult for me growing up (and in some ways it still is). I struggled with social anxiety and disliked going out of my comfort zone to socialize with others. In the classroom, whenever the teacher would ask a question, I would hesitate to raise my hand even though I knew the answer. Have you guys seen (or read) The Perks of Being a Wallflower? I was pretty much the Asian girl-version of Charlie. I tend to overthink and analyze every little detail and this just causes me even more anxiety. yeesh.
However, through my experiences of traveling around the world, I’ve learned to cope with new situations and feel a little more comfortable around people. It’s weird. Sometimes, I have those rare days where I can easily pass as an “extrovert”, but on most days, I am quite introverted and prefer interacting with close friends and family over new acquaintances and strangers. I dislike small talk* in general, but love talking in depth about things that I am passionate about: books, films, art, current events, history, fashion, photography, food, music, cute animals, science, etc. The list goes on and on.
Also, just like anything in life, there are varying degrees of introversion and not all introverts are the same. To my family and closest friends, I am usually quite “extroverted” around them because I feel comfortable and don’t have to worry about how they’ll judge me. As an introvert, I know that there is a lot of pressure to be like everyone else and to fit in, but what’s most important is self-acceptance. Self-acceptance and confidence are what will lead you to success. I try to remember this whenever I start to doubt myself.
10 Myths About Introverts
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #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.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
Lastly, I am currently in the middle of reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. So far, I LOVE it and it has offered me some valuable insight into what it means to be introverted and how you can use your strengths to become successful despite our society’s obsession with the Extrovert Ideal. I will make a post about my thoughts on the book once I’m finished. 🙂
What are your thoughts on introversion? Have you read Susan Cain’s book Quiet?
*My brother often teases me about how much anxiety I get from having to engage in casual “small talk”. I don’t know why it bothers me so much, but I guess I don’t really like talking about myself. I’d rather talk about something that interests me. I’ve found that talking to someone about your anxiety issues is very helpful and realizing that it’s important not to sweat the small stuff.
ps: Still feeling a little anxious? Read what John Green has to say about anxiety:
Anxiety and Stuff