I’ve been classified as an introvert for most of my life now, and I can tell you for a fact that classification is true. I’m a textbook introvert. Group activities put a knot in my stomach. I’d much rather converse with people I’m very familiar with one on one or in a group no larger than five. My favorite activity is curling up on the couch with a throw, hot cookies or brownies, a good book, and maybe a fire in the fireplace if we can manage it. I don’t reach out to people much, and if I do, my heart is pounding, even if it’s a stranger who is literally paid to be nice to me.
Yes, I’m an introvert, and a lot of those stereotypes you’ve likely heard apply to me. However, I’ve also run into several misconceptions about introverts lately that disturb me. If you don’t mind too much (and I really hope you don’t, because I don’t want to be a bother) I’d like to explain.
Misconception #1: Introverts are selfish/self-centered.
Because introverts have a harder time reaching out to others and don’t ask many questions about other people’s lives, we are often pushed off for being self-absorbed. It’s true that many introverts spend a lot of time in our heads. We are often introspective, which is why we make such great artists, writers, and thinkers. However, just because we don’t ask about your life doesn’t mean we don’t care. In fact, it’s actually our way of being considerate.
Let me explain. In my mind, being asked a butt load of questions about my personal life is invasive and annoying. I hate small talk and prefer to offer information about myself that I want others to know instead of being asked for it. Because of that perception, I may come across as disinterested in your life when I’m actually just trying to give you personal space. For example, I probably won’t ask what kind of men or women (or both) you prefer to date, even if we’re close friends. I figure if you want me to know that information, you’ll tell me. I don’t want to ask a personal question and get shot down because that makes me feel horrible, since I know how bad I feel when someone invades my space.
So please, tell me about your life. The important stuff. The real stuff. I’m one of the best listeners/amateur psychologists you’re ever going to meet. If you need to bore me with small talk, feel free, but don’t try to quiz me on it later, because my mind probably wandered into Neverland during that part of the conversation. Just a PSA. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just literally painful to talk about anything that doesn’t feel authentic or important. On that line of thought, I’ll also say this: Please, please don’t try to BS an introvert. You’ll get shot down in a heartbeat, trust me.
Misconception #2: Introverts don’t like parties.
One word can answer this one: WRONG.
I love a good party. I won’t be the life of the party by any means, but I will smile, laugh, and dance with the rest…as long as I know someone. If I’m in a room with a sea of people I don’t know, I’m going to feel alone and terrified. After all, what are you going to think of the weird quiet girl who randomly comes up to you, shaking in her boots, and says “hi” with eyes that say, “Tell me your deepest secrets?”
Yeah. Exactly. That would be creepy, so you’re not likely to find me approaching strangers. Like, ever. At least not without someone I know beside me to prove I’m not a psychopath.
Misconception #3: Introverts always want to be in their own little bubble.
One word in this sentence needs to be changed: ALWAYS.
Introverts often want to be in our own little bubble. It’s a safe place away from the meanies who don’t understand us and call us names. We’ll let other introverts into our bubble at times, and maybe even the understanding extrovert. But we spend a lot of time outside that bubble, mostly because it has to be done (work, shopping, social events, etc.). Sometimes, on a magical unicorn of a day, we’ll even step so far outside that bubble that we can embrace the outside world with open arms without a care in the world…like a little girl in a white linen dress spinning in a field of wildflowers on a seventy degrees and sunny kind of day. It’s glorious. It’s wonderful.
Usually it involves copious amounts of liquor, chocolate, and/or happy news, but it’s possible.
Take advantage of those mystical, wonderful, occasional days of living entirely on the outside and ask us whatever you want to know. Just don’t push us to the breaking point, because the bubble is always nearby, and we are always prepared to run to it in case of an emergency.
Misconception #4: Introverts are hard to get to know.
Ha…that’s a laugh. The truth is, introverts can talk about ourselves wayyyyy too much at times. All you have to do is prove yourself trustworthy and show genuine interest, and we’ll talk your ear off in a one-to-one setting (maybe even in a small group of friends if we trust each and every one of them). You may even have to make us shut up. We keep so much locked up inside that it will burst forth at any safe opportunity.
Misconception #5: Introverts don’t care if you disregard the fact that they’re an introvert.
This is one I never thought I would have to include here, but sadly, I do. So often I meet people that either push me way past my limits or rail against me for being different. That is the quickest way to get yourself cut from my life. One thing people need to know about introverts: We have no qualms about pushing people away if they don’t “get it” (especially if they don’t even try to). It’s not that we think they’re horrible people or anything, it’s just not in the cards for us to be friends with someone like that. You can’t explain introversion to someone who doesn’t and won’t understand.
I realize a lot of these have already been said, but since people still don’t understand, I guess we’re going to have to keep harping on this topic. Here’s hoping a new age is coming for introverts where we can act like a cat in human form (curling up in front of the fire with our “yarns” nearby) in peace, without the more canine-like humans constantly barking at us to come outside.
Thanks for reading! And please, feel free to hug an introvert today…but only if you know you have permission.