If you’re reading this, you’re probably an introvert who has been misunderstood all your life. Or perhaps you’re close to someone who’s an unapologetic introvert and would like to understand them further.
Either way, we’re here to help straighten out the 5 most common misconceptions about introverted people.
#1. You are shy and awkward
Firstly, there’s a difference between being shy and being an introvert. Shyness is the fear of interacting with others whereas introversion is simply the preference to keep to one’s thoughts.
Although introverts can be shy, that does not mean all introverts are apprehensive about interacting with people. Clinical psychologist Laurie Helgoe says that introverts only seem shy because unlike extroverts who think as they speak, introverts process thoughts internally so they tend to think before they speak.
As an introvert, you can be just as confident and at ease with people like everyone else. However, you need time alone to ‘recover’ and ‘recharge’ as social interaction drains you. You also prefer to engage in deep conversations and meaningful connections and generally don’t delight in small talk, which may make you seem shy.
#2. You don’t have leadership qualities
You’ve probably heard this too many times: extroverts make better leaders than introverts. Well, it’s probably as true as Neverland is real — it is not. In fact, there are many great leaders who identify as introverts, such as Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi.
Although some introverts may appear to be less motivated to succeed, in truth, you simply measure success differently. Your extroverted counterparts may view recognition as a success but what you emphasise is productivity and quality of work. Besides, introverts can be effective leaders because they’re great at building meaningful connections, making them more in tune with the needs of their team members.
That’s not all. Research has found that introverts may have thicker grey matter in the prefrontal cortex; an area of the brain known for abstract thinking and decision making. This means that you’re less likely to make hasty decisions due to your introspective and thoughtful nature, which in turn ensures a higher success rate of a project.
#3. You’re definitely depressed
“Quiet people have the loudest mind.” – Stephen Hawking
You’ve probably been notoriously mislabelled as depressed by people around you, whether it’s your parents, teachers or friends. This has led others to think you have a mental health problem when in fact, you merely need your solitude to disconnect from all the noise.
You may have also been asked, “Why don’t you want to come to the party with us?”, “Why are you always alone?” or “Are you okay?”. Sometimes, this makes you feel guilty for always wanting to spend time by yourself. But don’t worry, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a quiet life.
This, however, doesn’t mean that introverts don’t suffer from depression. In fact, some research has found that introverts are more susceptible to depression because they tend to be more self-critical. Since it may be hard for you to handle this, remember to always have a good support system and talk things out with your loved ones to avoid feeling depressed.
#4. You have a boring life
Others may have lifted their brows when you reject your friend’s offer to go out on a Friday. But at the end of a long week, your ideal activity is to stay at home to catch up with reading, drawing or even journalling. While extroverts who enjoy social interactions may find this extremely mundane, you find comfort and peace in these quiet hobbies.
This doesn’t mean that you have no fun at all. In fact, you do enjoy going to the theatre or spending the night out with close friends. However, you tend to plan and space out your outings to avoid feeling mentally, emotionally and physically drained. You’re also not affected by the fear of missing out, a.k.a. #FOMO. Besides, keeping outings to a minimum helps to keep you psyched and excited when you see them next!
Therefore, it’s good to establish that what an extrovert may deem as fun and enjoyable may not be ideal for an introvert. Sure, introverts may not have a superb story to share on Monday but being able to spend time alone can be a luxury that’s hard to come by.
#5. You have no friends
You may often be misunderstood as antisocial or withdrawn at social settings. After all, it takes a while to get to know you personally, what more to open up to people. But that doesn’t mean you are without good friends who enjoy your presence and company.
In fact, you have a handful of good friends whom you can count on because of your attentive and loyal nature. You often pay close attention to what your best buds have to say, give them great advice and don’t mind listening to their pent up frustrations. Moreover, you actually enjoy spending time with your besties, whether it’s going to the newest cafe in town or catching a movie. After all, you value deep connections as you don’t gel with others easily.
Now that we have clarified these myths about introverts, we hope you’ll be able to see your introverted friends in a different light. Remember, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you should always be comfortable in your own skin!