Stop calling introverts anti-social
Time to reeducate the mass by debunking 3 myths about introverts
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This November, I'm challenging myself to write every day. You can read them all under the "Shorts" category, where each post should be around 500-1k words. Think of them as "less polished" than my usual longer blog posts. This is Day 5.
Whenever I tell someone new that I'm an introvert, a lot of them seem surprised about it. If I had a dollar for every time somebody implied that introverts are not sociable or outgoing, I'd have a million by now. I admit that I was shy when I was younger, but that was because I was socially uncomfortable. Now, fast forward to the present, I like meeting and talking to new people, but I prefer 1:1s, smaller groups, or people I'm familiar with. If anything, I'm not anti-social; rather, I'm selectively social. The biggest misconception, which is the source of my pet peeve, is that introverts are shy, quiet, and anti-social. But not all of us are like that, just like not all extroverts are loud and outgoing. Let's debunk these myths, shall we?
Introversion is not defined by shyness, contrary to popular belief. They are two completely different traits. Even some extroverts who are mistaken for introverts may feel shy and want to be around people but lack social skills. We are more reflective than extroverts, preferring to think to ourselves, rather than out loud. We may process information a little slower and a little more detailed. So what may seem to be like silence is actually us being a bit more considerate and thoughtful when choosing our words. As Susan Cain put it in her "The Power of Introverts" 2012 TED Talk:
"Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time, you know, these things aren’t absolute, but a lot of the time.”
Why quiet? Well, we can't talk about our plans to rule the world out loud, now can we?
Sure, some introverts may prefer to be alone, but that does not imply we don't enjoy being around people. Like everyone else, we like human connection too but we may be selective about who we choose to hang out with. Not at all anti-social. A lot of us still love a good party.
The main difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts gain energy (or rather, recharge our batteries) by relishing our alone time, whereas extroverts gain theirs by being out and about socialising. We become exhausted quickly if we spend too much time outside socialising. Not because we hate human interactions, but it's because we've emptied out our social battery. I'd need to at least take a nap or some time off by myself to recover. I can admit that for the most part, I do prefer my alone time (the physical state of being by myself) over being surrounded by people. That isn't to say that we prefer being lonely (an emotional state of being disconnected from others) though. They're two different things. Being alone ≠ lonely.
The common myths make it seem like extroverts are more sought after than introverts due to the myth that introverts can't communicate as well as their counterpart because of their shyness and lack of social skills. But as you can see, that's not the case at all. Extroverts are not superior to introverts. Introverts can be sociable, outgoing, great around people too, just as extroverts can be quiet, shy, and reserved. You want to know famous introverts? Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Steve Jobs, and many other tech leaders. We're used to seeing them as "extroverts" because they display "stereotypical extroverted traits". Being outgoing or an effective communicator does not always imply you're an extrovert. It just indicates you're outgoing or a good communicator. So, stop calling us anti-social and labelling introversion like it's a bad thing. That's not nice.