“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness”
– Alejandro Jodorowsky
Many (if not all) of my close friends are aware that I am most definitely an introvert. My idea of a great evening involves my couch, my amazing patchwork quilt, numerous cups of english breakfast tea, and my favourite TV series of the month. My ideal Saturday involves coming home from work on Friday night, and not leaving the house until Sunday morning, when I head off to church.
Lately however, I have been struggling with my introversion. I’ve been “putting myself out there” meeting new people and making new friends. This, for an introvert, is exhausting, and at times has lead to late night anxiety attacks and even mild depression. (This is something I’ve struggled with on and off for a long time now. Many people are not aware of this.)
To make new friends involves one thing I can’t stand – small talk. I mean, how many times can you talk about the weather and still be interesting? As a result, I often find that initial conversations with me can unintentionally get quite deep. This doesn’t freak me out, but then I get worried that the other person then feels quite vulnerable.
“Putting myself out there” is also a concept that I hate. For an introvert, “putting myself out there” could be something as BRAZEN as saying “Hi. My name’s Paula. What’s your name?”. Even the idea of doing that freaks me out sometimes. Extroverted friends just don’t understand the effort it takes sometimes for an introvert to be social. I’m not being rude, but sometimes there are just too many people in the space. (hence why I’ve only ever been to the Royal Easter Show once. There are just far too many people in that area!)
Today I came across this list of “10 Myths about Introverts”. I’ve seen other versions / similar lists, but I really liked this one. Read, enjoy – and learn more about your introverted friends 🙂
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
Back in November 2012, I was backstage at church and my friends Lewis & Josh came up to me and asked “you know the words to “Man In the Mirror” don’t you? Good, because you’re singing it with us this morning”.
Someone in Church caught it on video and I discovered it only tonight.
I love singing with these guys – they are EXTREMELY good at what they do. I think Lewis is off to tour the UK soon, so keep an ear out for him!!