I remember the moment that I discovered I was introverted.
I was sitting in a first-year university psychology class several years ago having just done my first personality test to indicate where I fell on the introvert-extravert spectrum and the results revealed: introvert.
At first I was confused, “What?I’m an introvert? That can’t be right.”
So I did it again.
But the result was the same: introvert.
Since then, I’ve done many personality tests, as well as studied an entire unit on personality — and the results have been consistently the same.
So why was I confused that I was introverted?
Most likely because introversion is not well understood, and it’s a trait that many people have a lot of false misconceptions about. I know I used to.
Ever since I realised I was an introvert I have become more intrigued and interested in learning about this personality type.
For me, understanding my unique energy has had a really powerful influence on my life. And I truly believe that understanding this part of myself has been profound in the way I show up in my life.
Which is why I’m incredibly excited to be having Introvert Week here on the blog this week.
This means that each day this week I will have an introverted related post for you. There’s going to be stories from my life, things that have helped me embrace this part of myself, including useful resources (and there will be a giveaway of one of my favourites!), as well as interviews and insights with other introverts.
Today we’re kicking things off with some misconceptions about introverts, things introverts often have in common, as well as a dot-point style history of what being introverted has been like in my life.
An interesting thing happened when I first discovered I was introverted, many people in my life were really surprised (just as I was!). And I think this is because there are so many false misconceptions about introverts. Here are 7 of the misconception that I have come across the most (and honestly some of them I even use to believe myself!):
1. Introverts are shy. Introverts can be shy, but that doesn’t mean that all introverts are shy. I know personally I can come across as quite shy when I’m in a big group of people or around people I don’t know very well, but I definitely wouldn’t consider myself shy. I know I used to think that introverts were extremely shy people.
2. Introverts don’t like other people. This is just simply not true. Needing alone time to recharge and rejuvenate doesn’t mean you don’t like other people at all. In fact, introverts can love people as much as anyone else.
3. Introverts hate talking. Yes, introverts can be less inclined to speak up in big groups or around people they don’t know, however I’ve found that introverts can be just as talkative as anyone, especially in 1:1 and smaller group situations.
4. There is something “wrong” with introverts. This is a misconception I’ve found to be really strange and surprising. I’ve even had people suggest that needing alone time means there’s something wrong with you. And even more strangely, I’ve heard people say introverts are behaving in that way because they are depressed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted (or extraverted — or anything else in-between!).
5. Introverts hate leaving the house and are hermits. Introverts don’t always want to be alone and I’m not sure how introversion has gotten confused with agoraphobia, but just because your introverted doesn’t mean you like to be isolated and alone all the time. And honestly, before I knew what an introvert was I used to think an introvert was like Howie from Benchwarmers!
6. Introverts can choose not to be introverted. This is a misconception that I find to be really troubling because it suggests that introverts can be “fixed” and become extraverted if they want to. I truly believe you can be a confident introvert if you want to, but I don’t believe that it’s something you can change about yourself.
7. You can obviously tell if someone is an introvert. You might be surprised when you find out someone is an introvert, after all I didn’t even know I was one! I’ve even had people tell me that if I was a true introvert they would be able to tell. But it’s definitely not as simple as that.
∞ Growing up, I battled with the idea that there was something “wrong” with me because of my nature and personality and I struggled to understand myself (which might of been one of the reasons I became so interested in psychology!).
∞ I didn’t understand why of social interactions (even with people I truly liked) left me feeling exhausted. And I also didn’t understand why in some social situations I would be extremely talkative and in others I would be really quiet. This is something I spent a lot of time criticising myself over.
∞ My school reports were always filled with words like quiet achiever and conscientious, but would also sometimes say things like “needs to speak up in class more.”
∞ I always felt way more comfortable in one-on-one or small group situations.
∞ I used to feel really guilty for not being energised by other people and needing to have alone time. I would say yes to doing thing, even when I felt stretched to the limits because I felt guilty about saying no.
∞ I got to university, discovered I was an introvert and became more interested in learning about this personality/energy type and understanding myself better. And as I mentioned above, this discovery was revolutionary for me and I felt so relieved that there wasn’t something “wrong” with me.
∞ In the beginning, I embraced this new identity too much and for a little while I didn’t make an effort to socialise or connect with others and used being an introvert as an excuse to hide myself away from the world. I quickly realised that this was not serving me at all and I ended up feeling quite lonely.
∞ I now choose to be empowered by my introverted energy and I’m very conscious about embracing and honouring this part of me without hiding behind it or using it as an excuse. And I’ll be talking more about how I approach this later in the week (and a whole lot more ;-))
And now, I’ve realised since connected with other introverts that there are many things in particular that I do that I find I usually have in common with other introverts such as:
∞ I really do not like small talk, I find it really awkward, so much so, that I would rather talk about
∞ I don’t like being put on the spot at all and like to be able to process things first.
∞ I hate talking on the phone (with a passion!) and I much prefer talking to people in-person (or even on FaceTime or Skype).
∞ Reading, watching Netflix and drinking tea is my idea of a perfect night.
∞ I truly do enjoy spending time alone. And on the other hand I love spending time with other people as well.
∞ Even though I’m better at managing my energy nowadays, certain social situation can be quite overwhelming.
∞ I believe I work best alone (and group work in school was the worst!).
∞ I don’t like being put in the spotlight and “being seen” is something I find quite challenging.
∞ I prefer to express myself by writing than through talking (which may be why I felt called to start a blog).
∞ I spent a lot of time thinking things through and I rather process things by thinking about them by myself rather than talking them out.
∞ What I’ve learnt from Shhh by Katherine Mackenzie-Smith (plus a giveaway!)
∞ Finding your own way to shine: An interview with Katherine Mackenzie-Smith.
∞ 5 things that have helped me to embrace being an introvert and not let it hold me back.
∞ 17 introverts share their insights on how they embrace their introverted nature.
Now over to you… Are you an introvert? What misconception have you faced the most about your introverted nature? I would love to hear from you in the comments (if you feel called to of course).
Here’s to honouring your unique energy (whatever that may be!)
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