If you’re reading this and you’re an introvert like me, much of your life you’ve been surrounded by extroverts. If you’re an extrovert, you most likely have wondered about the introverts in your life and how to relate to them.
I am introverted and I love it. I like and crave alone time. I love peace and quiet. I dislike crowds and traffic and have learned all of the paths and roads to take to avoid them. The only issue is that I worry about being misunderstood by extroverted others.
And my only concern about writing a piece like this is that in sharing my own experience, other introverts may take it as me generalizing that we are all the same. I would never dare to lump all introverts into one pile and label us. We are each so very different and unique. I do hope in sharing my perspective that it may resonate with some, and that extroverts who may read it will find it eye-opening, that it could offer understanding which all introverts need are reaching for.
I want to break this down into misconceptions and address them one by one.
Misconception #1: Introverts are loners.
We may give off the vibe that we want to be alone, so much so that others steer clear of us. The truth is, we want friends just like anyone. We need and crave alone time. That is true enough, but please smile at us and say “hello” to us. Just by sheer virtue of talking less than most, we are less practiced in social situations and feel more awkward. Reach out to your introverted friends and pull them in. They will withdraw and struggle to make the first move or say the first words, especially if they don’t know you very well. But we do not want to be alone.
Misconception #2: Introverts are stuck-up and think they are better than everyone else.
Please don’t mistake an introvert’s silence as a statement about you. It’s almost always about them either simply not wanting to talk or not knowing what to say. It’s that simple.
Misconception #3: Introverts should communicate more.
I have seen this in my family and have been told this point blank. Teachers cold called on me in school with still no response from me. My dad told me as a child it was disrespectful not to speak at breakfast in the morning. Other family members have told me I need to communicate more. But you can’t make an introvert be an extrovert. You definitely CAN’T intimidate an introvert into talking. Being assertive or using aggression to get us to speak will only cause us to want to withdraw further. Those in my life who have proven themselves to be trustworthy safe havens who I can really be myself around, they will tell you that once I start talking I can be quite the chatterbox! Introverts can and will reveal themselves once trust and comfort are established!
Misconception #4: Introverts are “emo” or depressed.
Far from it! We are energized by alone time in the same way that extroverts are energized by being social. I am a daydreaming, hopeful, forward thinking optimist. I spend a lot of time doing art, writing, imagining, and creating through photography. I love planning outings and travel. I really enjoy the outdoors and get as much joy out of a walk, meal or coffee alone as a do when I’m with others. I have suffered from depression in the past following the deaths of each of my parents, but it was not related to being introverted. I consider myself to be happy and emotionally healthy. In fact, the older I get the more I embrace my introvertedness (if that’s a word), and I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that it is just fine to be an introvert!
All in all, introverts want friends, their silence is almost never about you, they will talk when they feel safe and they are not all depressed. I hope this gives some insight to the mind and heart of the introvert (or at least this one).