As an introvert, I have felt misunderstood more times than I can count. Whether it’s being accused of being rude, labelled as being shy or simply being told that I’m unsociable. Each of these experiences left me feeling that maybe there was something wrong with me. That I wasn’t “normal”. Instead, it turns out, I’m simply just an introvert. To put it simply this definition sums it up well:
Introversion is a personality trait characterized by a focus on internal feelings rather than on external sources of stimulation – Kendra Cherry (verywellmind.com)
And it’s that simple. Extroverts focus on external sources for their stimulation, introverts don’t. But there’s still a massive barrier to extroverts understanding introverts so I thought I’d write this post to try to clear up a few common misconceptions.
- We’re not unsociable we just enjoy our alone time too. As much as I enjoy spending time with my friends, I love a bit of time to myself too. Sometimes I’ve been known to literally plan a whole day off centred around just being by myself, enjoying my hobbies (ok, ok reading and Netflix) and just re energizing. I find if I can get a few hours alone time, I suddenly feel a lot more energized and ready to take on the external pressures of the world. Simply from just being by myself. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy social occasions either or spending time with friends, but to us introverts social gatherings can actually be pretty energy draining. If one day I’ve been to a big social event, I find I sometimes need a day off just relaxing afterwards to recharge because it takes it out of me that much. I find the more people I interacted with that day, sometimes the more time I need to recover. And this can translate to being “unsociable”. Because if it’s a busy time of year, I simply can’t face lots of busy social occasions in a short space of time. Mentally I just find it too much, my energy gets drained and I become too overwhelmed. Hence why I try not to commit to too much in the period of a week. Trust me you wouldn’t want to be around me when I’m overwhelmed and exhausted. Jamie can testify to that!
- We’re not lonely. If I had a coin for every time I’ve been asked “but don’t you get lonely?” I’d be…well you get the idea. I find people often assume this about me simply because I don’t have loads of friends. I’m pretty upfront about that. I was never the popular kid at school and I’m certainly not as an adult. I wouldn’t say I’m unpopular or massively disliked (at least I hope I’m not), but I have always preferred to keep my social circle small. I’ve always been one of those people who prefers a small close group of friends to a big wide circle and that’s just me. Don’t get me wrong though I do love getting to know new people but, I guess subconciously, I tend to keep people at a bit of a distance. Not sure if that’s the trait of an introvert or if that’s just me to be honest, but it tends to fit in with how I like to socialise. Generally most introverts prefer socialising in smaller groups in more intimate settings, like drinks round a friend’s house rather than a big party and that’s definitely me. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy a big party on occasion but I’d say most of my socialising takes place on a smaller basis and I’m happier with that.
- I don’t mean to be rude just sometimes when I first meet people I can be a little on the quieter side. I’m pretty shy anyway. Not all introverts are shy but I definitely am and Noah appears to have inherited that from me. When I meet new people, especially in a group situation, I tend to need to take a few moments to absorb it in. I can’t stand being thrown right into the thick of things from the offset. I need a few moments to get a feel for my surroundings and then I’m usually ok. But to more confident, extroverted people I can seem aloof or perhaps rude on a first meeting. When people have said this to me previously, I have honestly felt mortified as that’s the last thing I’d want to come across as. Us introverts love to self reflect and I’ll often over analyse social situations trying to figure out if I came across as rude or not. It can be exhausting.
- Just because I want some alone time, it doesn’t mean I’m depressed. As someone who does suffer with depression at times and has suffered badly in the past, this is something that always gets wrongly assumed about me when I want some alone time. As soon as I say “I just feel like being alone today” some people automatically think “she must be down” “her anxiety is playing up so she wants to avoid people”. When in actual fact, most of the time, it’s as simple as me just fancying some alone time. As I said before, my alone time is my recharge time. My time to relax and without it I start to feel on edge. So every now and again I need that day not seeing anyone. But honestly if I tell you I’m fine, please believe me cause chances are I am!
- We’re not as weird as you think. There seems to be this common thought process that introverts are “odd” somehow. Honestly, I may be biased, but we’re really not. Yes we’re outnumbered by extroverts (we make up 40% of the population I believe) but that doesn’t make us weird. It just makes us different. At the end of the day, we all have different personality traits and that’s all introversion is, a different trait.
So yeah, those are a few of the misconceptions I’ve come across before now. Hope that’s cleared a few things up! I’m sure there’s many more I’ve missed so please feel free to comment with your experiences! Maybe I’ll do a follow up post :).