“You don’t really seem like an introvert”

This is a remark that I get a lot. I think it’s because a lot of people don’t really know what an introvert is.

If you haven’t heard much about the differences between introverts and extroverts, here’s a great article that explains the basics. Essentially though, it boils down to whether someone is energized by being around others (extroverts) or by being alone (introverts).

I am definitely an introvert, but often times people don’t think I am because I don’t fit their ideas of what constitutes an introvert: painfully shy, poor social skills, likes to be alone all the time, bad at public speaking, talks really quiet, etc. (Click here for a fantastic article on myths about introverts). Introvert has taken on a negative connotation and I’m not really sure why. In fact, one of my friends referred to introverts as “extroversion projects” that needed to be broken out of their shells.

Growing up, I believed these myths about myself.  For quite some time, I thought being an introvert was a hindrance and I wished I could be an extrovert.  I had accepted the “facts” that I was shy, that I couldn’t be a great public speaker, that making friends was difficult for me, and that this was just something I would have to deal with.

That’s just not true.

Some of the myths were disproved slowly, and some are still being unlearned now, but gradually I was able to see these for what they were – myths. Shyness is separate from introversion. This is a big one that a lot of people miss. Introvert does not automatically mean shy. Some people are both, but some people (like me) are introverts who aren’t as shy. Public speaking was another big one. I learned from a young age that introverts are afraid of people and so they are bad speakers. Neither of those are true. It took me until this year to realize I’m not a bad speaker. I’m typically nervous, but I’m actually a very good speaker.

At some point I realized how great it was to be an introvert (largely due to the influence of articles like this one). I don’t have hundreds of friends, but I don’t want to. A few close friends is all I need. Sometimes I really like eating alone, and that’s not weird. It gives me time with my thoughts, a good book, some music, or just time to relax. I’m not bad at socializing, I just socialize differently than others.

And gradually as the stereotypes fell away, I really began to love the fact that I was an introvert. Now, I can’t imagine being any other way. This is who I am, and I won’t just accept it, I’ll embrace it!

I don’t have any experience being an extrovert, but I definitely don’t want to exclude their side of the story.  If you have a great story about being an extrovert, misconceptions about extroverts that you’d like cleared up, or just want to show your extrovertedness and say hi, please comment below!

Not sure if you’re an introvert or extrovert? Take the quiz!

Want to learn more about introverts? Check out Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

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