The following is a guest post by Sas. You can find out more about her at the end of the post.
I recently saw a few pretty nasty comments on another website about introverts. Pretty much they ran along the lines of this:
- Introverts have no social skills (whereas all extroverts are amazing social beings)
- Introverts are boring.
- Being an introvert sucks.
I’m writing this post because I want to get this message across:
We’re not all shy, socially awkward people like everyone seems to dismiss us as. And we’re not boring. And being an introvert rocks (also, not all extroverts are super charming people magnets).
So I want to hear from you about your experiences with either outgoing introverts or shy or socially awkward extroverts. Let’s explore the ones who don’t fit into the stereotypes!
I’m an introvert. Granted, I’m nowhere near the extreme end of the spectrum, but I’m not an ambivert and I’m definitely not an extrovert.
Why am I an introvert?
- I really value solitude. I crave it if I don’t get it regularly – I love getting lost in books and music.
- I hate big parties, they just don’t interest me (unless it’s one where I can just dance salsa all night). I love small groups, preferably one on one, talking about things I’m passionate about.
- I don’t think quickly. I need time to go away and think about it. I hate brainstorming meetings at work if I don’t get the opportunity to sit and formulate my own ideas beforehand.
- Everyone says I’m an excellent listener.
So here’s where I don’t fit the stereotype: I’m not at all shy. I love people, and I think I lead a pretty interesting life (so do most people who get to know me).
In fact, I’m a bit of a performer. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved singing, debating, drama, dance. I love it all. It’s the way for me to express the rich, creative inner world that I mostly live in, to share all my ideas and connect with others. At work, I enjoy public speaking and giving presentations, unlike 90% of my colleagues.
People THINK I’m an extrovert because I’m not shy and because I can get on stage and pretend to be this loud, over the top person.
But unlike the extroverted performers, when the show’s over, I’m hanging out with my closest friends in the corner of the after party (or heading home to read the next chapter of my book), rather than seeking out further attention in the centre of the crowd.
(I’m also not the only introverted person who enjoys performing. I know a fair few, especially actors. Introverts make great actors because they’re great people watchers).
To me, being on stage in front of an audience is so much easier and less exhausting than engaging with a big group of people because I control the interaction, and it’s about something I’m passionate about. At work, presentations mean I can spend time thinking it through on my own before going in and sharing my ideas (it’s also my chance to be heard since normally the more extroverted ones talk over the top of me or beat me to it).
So being shy is not the same as being an introvert. Yes, there’s a correlation. But I’ve met a lot of shy people that THINK they’re an introvert because of their shyness, when in fact I suspect they’re mild extroverts-the ONLY reason they don’t enjoy big social events is because of their shyness. Secretly they wish they could be a part of it all.
Shyness is just fear. Being shy does suck, because it holds you back from doing what you want to do. But introversion has nothing to do with fear- I’m not afraid of big social events or talking to people at all. I love my introverted ways because they let me experience and learn all these fascinating parts of life. I pick up dance choreography or lines quicker because I’m good at focusing and listening to choreographers/directors.
So to another stereotype – super charming extroverts? Not always true, and not just in the case of the shy extroverts.
I know a guy who is incredibly extroverted; always talking talking talking, hates being alone, speaks quickly, thinks quickly, loves great big parties with lots of people to meet.
He’s a great guy, but only if you’re a good listener. He can’t hold down a relationship because he talks SO MUCH. People, especially extroverts, like being around people that will listen to them, which he just can’t do. His closest friends are pretty strong introverts, because they’re ok with him talking all the time.
I feel for him because he’s aware that he never lets anyone talk, but he just can’t seem to change. He wants to hold down a relationship, but women get sick of him pretty quickly.
So there you have it – an extrovert who is neither shy nor good with people.
Sas lives in Melbourne, Australia. These days when she isn’t working, reading or hanging out with her loved ones, she’s either dancing salsa or performing in burlesque shows.