Stef (firecat) wrote,

Introversion, what it can be and what it isn't necessarily always

The other day I was hanging around with a friend and my friend said "What have you been up to?" and I was tired and hadn't been doing anything unusual since last seeing my friend, so I said "Not much" and my friend looked at me like I had three heads and said "Really?!" And I felt like my friend was judging me for that answer.

[personal profile] elaine4queen posts about how to interact with an introvert, and links to a couple of lists of introvert traits.

(For the record, I think of an introvert as someone who needs alone-time to recharge, and an extrovert as someone who needs social-time to recharge. Most of the other stuff that people associate with introversion and extroversion, I don't think it comes directly out of those tendencies.)

Ten Myths about Introverts and how they apply to meeeeeeeeee.

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.

I don't hate small talk. Actually I like the kind of small talk where I can talk to someone and not have to think very hard. But some kinds of small talk seem complicated to me (see the anecdote at the beginning of this post), and I have to be in the mood to engage in that kind of small talk, and I'm often not in the mood.

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.

I interact for the sake of interacting sometimes. I just don't do it all the time.

I very much prefer that people be polite when they start talking to me, thank you very much. Primarily because someone walking up to me and talking to me, when I am otherwise engaged, does not count in my book as a "reason to interact."

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.

I see lots of reasons for social pleasantries. Maybe I don't want as many of them as some people. And I decidedly don't want everyone to "just be real and honest." Some people, when they are being real and honest, make me want to rip their heads off. Being around someone when I want to rip their head off is 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.

This is pretty much true, but also I like a number of people who aren't the few close friends I have. I just can't spend endless amounts of time with them without getting tired.

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.

This is mostly true. I don't know what "complications" means. If it means 20 people standing around trying to figure out where they're going to eat, then yeah, I like to avoid it.

Also I doubt that all introverts "take in data and experiences very quickly." I sometimes do.

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.

I'm often comfortable with my own thoughts, yes. I disagree with the "ONE PERSON at a time" least as an exclusive thing. If I cared so much about only that, I wouldn't blog or spend time on the Internet, which I think many introverts like to do. Also I like spending time in small groups, I just get tired quickly in large groups.

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.

I follow the crowd in plenty of things and so do most of the other introverts I know, but there are a number of ways in which I don't, and that's probably true of other introverts I know. But it's also true of extroverts I know.

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.

Actually I don't look inward so much these days. One of my favorite activities is watching people in a parking lot. What makes me look like an aloof nerd sometimes is that I like to be quiet.

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.

It's more about not having AS MUCH energy for talking and noise than about not being able to tolerate any of it. It's true I'm mostly not an adrenaline junkie. As for thrill seeker, I get plenty of thrills, but a little goes a long way. Maybe because of the dopamine thing.

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.

I kinda think there are plenty of extrovert scientists, musicians, etc. I think that introverts can change into extroverts and vice versa, but maybe not at will. And I think introverts can compensate and end up looking like extroverts, which is different from "becoming" them.

Give them advanced notice of expected changes in their lives.
Yes, but is needing that really an introvert trait per se?

Give them 15 minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing before calling them to dinner or moving on to the next activity.
I appreciate this, but I never thought of it as an introvert trait. For example, my OH is an extrovert and he hates being interrupted in the middle of an activity.

Reprimand them privately.
Again, shouldn't this apply to everyone?

Teach them new skills privately rather than in public.
I tend to need a lot of time to master new skills, especially skills with a physical component. But I enjoy taking classes, so I guess it doesn't entirely apply to me.

Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests and abilities.
I prefer having more than one best friend but I do like having only a few close friends and I prefer my friends to have some similar interests. But I don't especially need people to try to enable this. I have always managed to find my own friends.

Do not push them to make lots of friends.
Yeah, but should anyone be pushing anyone around friend-making?

This entry was originally posted at, where there are comments.
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded