Introvert / Extrovert stereotypes

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The following is a guest post by Sas. You can find out more about her at the end of the post.

 Hi everyone

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!

Example: me.

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.

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18 Comments

  1. Hoo Boy. We read a lot (lately 🙂 about Introvert stereotypes and forget the Extravert stereotypes.

    My sister is an E. AT least, I think she’s an E and her MBTI agrees with me. But she doesn’t realy understand wat they means — she only knows the stereotypes — and we recently had an email conversation in which she first asked me why I keep saying she’s an E and then accused me of thinking that because she “was married”. Seriously.

    Her email kinda went off track at that point.

    I wrote back and told her gently that she’s got a strong misunderstanding of what I and E mean and if she ever wants to ask, I’d be happy to explain what they _do_ mean (as opposed to the stereotypes she has in her head) but that, unless and until that pont, I’m not going to argue.

    And we Is thought _we_ had “issues”. Wowzer.

  2. Pingback: Dokter’s Weekly Report #4 | Dokter Waldijk

  3. People often confuse between being an introvert and being shy. This article goes straight to the differences – so thanks for that, Sas!

    I personally believe there are introverted people who like going to all sorts of parties and being in big groups of people. It’s just that they use up a lot of their energy to do this, which is why they can’t do it too often or for too long.

    I am an introvert myself and I love going to parties (especially when a lot of my close friends are coming too), but they tire me very fast.
    Andrew @ The Shyness Cure´s last post ..The Secret to Permanently Overcoming Your Shyness

    • TheTravelingHermit on

      Gary,

      What you’re confused about does not sound like an introversion issue. That sounds like social anxiety. In passing, saying hello is not such a bad thing. Because that person usually responds in kind as you pass each other and keep on going in your own directions.

      If you do have some level of social anxiety, saying hello could be a good way to start practicing some exposure therapy. I have social anxiety AND I’m an introvert. It’s important to recognize what’s what. It is quite possible to be introverted without being socially anxious.

  4. I am an introvert, be haven’t realized it until someone at our church made a comment, at first I laugh about it, not really knowing what it was until I researched it. When I saw the the description of an introvert I was pretty shocked. I still laughed it off and then when I started seeing it in me I felt like a total freak! I tried to embrace being an introvert and that has helped some. The social part is the hardest thing of all. I fell like I have to perfect! I have to do the right thing, say the right thing and usually I get so nervous and then just bomb! I think too much and I have to think before anything come out, which kind reminds me when I was little and everyone in my family to taught me to think before I speak, so is that where it comes from??? Also, I read that introvert is a preference and I could change, boy is that challenging, I get so bored easy I have to keep busy. I don’t understand small talk when ever I get into small talk I start turning it into a deep conservation and that just doesn’t interest extroverts. I pretty much still feel like a freak, I do have friends but some time I wonder how i ever became there friend, so I must do some ting right. There maybe hope after all.

  5. I am an introvert that always felt pressured to be more extroverted. Since realizing what being introvert means for me I have started taking a bit more time to myself. The result was having more energy and enthusiasm for the fewer “extrovert” activities that I participated in. I don’t dread these experiences anymore and don’t feel as awkward. This is especially important as I work in a very extrovert oriented environment.

  6. Of course being introvert doesn’t mean being shy, boring or problematic, however extroverts always find it easier to make friends or have fun with other people.. I always dreamed to be so easy going as they are but i don’t think it can be changed..
    Anna´s last post ..Top 10 Most Common Science Myths

  7. Until recently I thought being introvert can’t really be changed, but then I read an article by New York Times journalist and bestselling autor Neil Strauss, that says that humans are a bunch of habits. If you decide to stay home everyday instead of going out and socializing, it will make you an introvert in a way. But if you make the decision upfront to go out regularly (for example every friday and saturday) and meet (new) people you will become more social, and in the process (if you keep doing so) more extrovert. So changing your habits will change yourself! I’ve been following this rule for months now and must say that it works (of course I had evenings where I prefered to stay home and read a book, but that’s why you need to make the decision to go out upfront so no excuses can help). You just need to make the effort – it’s so easy to say “I’m the way I’m and there is nothing I can do about it”. Change is always difficult (especially in the beginning), but it’s worth it .
    Tobias´s last post ..kinder0005

  8. I think that every one of us has both extrovert and introvert traits in their character. When it comes to making friends, it only appears that the extrovert personalities are good at that. Those friendships are often shallow, and in fact you don’t need too many shallow friendships in your life. Thanks for the great post.
    Gil´s last post ..5 Top Ways To Improve Your Long-Term Memory in 2013

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