“Oh you’re such a turtle! Come out of your shell or you’ll never see the light of day!”
As an introvert, have you received comments like this or something similar?
Aloof, antisocial, distant, & abnormal became adjectives that are synonymous to being an introvert.
Why? Because most people fail to understand what introversion really means.
As such, introverts were made to believe that there’s something wrong with this type of personality, that in order to reach your full potential, you should be loud, sociable and outgoing.
In a world where being part of a team is the norm, the outgoing personality is desirable, and socialising is typical and expected ~ embracing an introverted personality seems such a taboo.
I want to challenge this notion. So many introverts mask their personality and put on a show just to feel accepted.
In the Oxford Dictionary, the word introvert is defined as someone who is “a shy and reticent person”. This type of ignorant definition, although coming from a highly regarded authority in the study and reference of the English language, breeds a misinformed society of people who think that having this type of personality is somehow a negative thing.
To enlighten those who do not truly understand what introversion means, here’s a simple and straightforward definition:
“An introvert is someone who gains or recharges energy through spending time alone.”
This definition though does not fully cover what it really means to be an introvert.
I cringe when I hear people’s negative misconceptions about this personality because it makes the introverted person reluctant to admit that he or she is an introvert. But I realised, these people are mostly only misinformed.
This post will hopefully try to solve the most common misconceptions of people when defining what introversion really means.
Top 3 misconceptions
- Introverts are shy.
Not all introverts are shy. Based on Susan Cain’s well-researched book Quiet, shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overly stimulating.
There is a big difference. In other words, being shy is being nervous around other people resulting in avoidance and keeping to oneself and not expressing an opinion.
One great example of a non-shy introvert is Bill Gates who loves solitude more than anything.
Now let’s go closer to home and let’s use myself as an example. I can be really boisterous and you will have no idea how big of an introvert I am. But in our next encounter, you might see me acting the total opposite. That’s because I am an introvert and I can only be noisy and energetic to a certain extent. When you see me quiet, it either means my energy is quite drained or I am not enjoying the company surrounding me. Or perhaps, I just prefer to “listen”. Introverts are really actually big on listening!
You can also be both shy and an introvert but to define introversion as synonymous to shyness is very flawed.
2. Introverts are anti-social or aloof
It’s not that we are anti-social, we just have a heavy dislike for “small talk”. And socialising includes a lot of that. We prefer engaging in deep conversations and discussing topics we are highly passionate about.
We can’t stand conversations discussing the weather, how we’re feeling today or how our weekend was. We WANT soulful, meaningful and smart conversations.
We introverts do enjoy the company of other people. We just want more control of who we talk to, when it will happen and for how long it will take.
3. Introverts can never become leaders/ introverts are not successful
An introvert’s love for solitude means they have plenty of untapped talents and can never achieve their full potential. WRONG!
Based on Susan Cain’s research for her book Quiet, she referenced a publication titled ‘Leadership Development for the Gifted and Talented’ written by Janet Farrall and Leonie Kronburg. Their findings confirmed that introverts tend to attain leadership in theoretical and aesthetic fields.
Exceptional leaders like Charles Darwin Marie Curie became who they were as a result of spending long periods of their lives in solitude. It’s true, great mastery can only happen when you are alone undistracted.
Here are some more leaders who prove that introverts can be wildly succesful: Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates as mentioned above.
The next time you feel embarrassed accepting who you really are, realised that the most creative and most talented people are those with an introverted personality.
To learn more about introverts, I highly recommend Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain. Her book is thoughtfully backed by in-depth research about the subject.