It’s New Year’s Eve. You’ve burrowed yourself in a blanket on the couch. Pre-midnight festivities play on your muted TV as you surf the web. Then your friend calls with a last minute invite to a sure-to-be-crazy party, but you decline in favor of your peaceful house, despite her pleadings that you join her.
Is there something wrong with you for continually declining these types of invitations?
For many introverts, this type of scenario is common. In a culture where much value is placed on the size of your social circle, attendance at large gatherings, or your ability to chat yourself up to the boss, introverts may feel like there is something inherently off with their personalities. This is not the case in the least.
Introverts are largely misunderstood and undervalued, whether it be by their more extroverted counterparts or themselves. So let’s set the record straight.
Extroverts gain energy from social situations, as opposed to introverts, who expend energy in social situations. However, it is important to remember that just because introverts don’t always thrive at social gatherings in the same way that extroverts do, doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying themselves. Not all introverts are quiet wallflowers, though some certainly are more reserved. Though after a night of partying and hanging out, many introverts feel the need to recharge with some time alone.
It’s true that introverts need and thoroughly enjoy their time with themselves. However, this doesn’t mean they avoid friendship altogether. Introverts differ in that they tend to have a small group of friends, as opposed to extroverts who usually have a wider circle of friends. Introverts are very careful when choosing friends and prefer deep, long-lasting relationships. They also tend to want to interact with people one on one, rather than in a large group.
Introverts are often described as being quiet and shy. Shyness itself indicates a fear of social judgement. Since we know that introverts choose not to spend all of their time with others because they simply prefer being alone, not because they are necessarily fearful in any way, it is safe to say that shyness is not always synonymous with introversion. Introverts also tend to think and observe before speaking, so people often mistake them for being shy.
It depends on who you ask. But really, it’s not about which personality type is better. It’s about playing to your strengths. Introverted people may thrive more in a career that puts focus on one-on-one interactions or independent work, such as writing, financial advising, or medical research. Yet, some introverts also do well when pushed out of their comfort zones. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, is a self-described introvert, but is also able to command the attention of hundreds of people, and do it remarkably well.
Though much of our culture may seem to tell us that being an introvert is a less than favorable quality, some of the most influential people in our history have been introverts, including Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Seuss, and Steve Wozniak. Whether you lean more toward the introvert side, extrovert side, or somewhere in the middle, there is nothing “wrong” with you. Introverts and extroverts alike should do their best to understand what makes others tick, and we should all encourage each other to play up our strengths and do what we do best.
Do you feel misunderstood as an introvert? Is it difficult to relate to your introverted friends? Tell us in the comments!