5 Misconceptions About Introverts
Being a little bit more on the introverted side can be tough. When everyone is clamoring to stay out late, hang out in huge groups, or meet lots of new people, being extroverted starts looking very good. In fact, others who don’t understand introverts might start assuming things about them, either through stereotypes or by observing their behavior.
There is a lot more going on underneath the surface, however, and a lot of misconceptions about introverts that should be broken:
“Shy” is a general term we call people who are quiet, don’t open up in crowds, and maybe even a little bit afraid of social interaction. This doesn’t cover the whole story of introverts. The core of being an introvert means being energized by being alone and being drained by being around other people. Just because someone is an introvert doesn’t make her scared of being around others. Instead, it’s something that happens inside. It is more of an internal energy shift that happens when an introvert is surrounded by people not already admitted to her comfort zone.
True blue introverts find themselves challenged to just slide their way into groups of people or to strike up conversation randomly. Their nature urges them to simply keep to themselves. Although some may look at this and think that the introverts feel superior to others, it isn’t true. It just means they aren’t comfortable in these situations; remember, they’re the ones getting their energy drained by big groups. You’d be uncomfortable, too.
Hatred of Being Social
As mentioned, there is a distinct “circle” of people who are no longer in the energy drain category for introverts. This means that an introvert is entirely capable of being just as loud and fun as any extrovert, but only when with this “safe” people who they are comfortable with. Socializing with the right group can actually offer lots of positive energy to an introvert. However, bringing even one stranger into the group can cause an introvert to retreat back into her comfort zone, so keep this in mind.
Comfortable Where They Are
If you seem confident and easygoing in a group, chances are good that you’ve caught an introvert’s envious eye. The mere idea of easing into a strange group of people can be an extreme challenge, even to the point of being painful to some introverts. That doesn’t mean that they don’t occasionally wish to be capable of including themselves in these situations.
There’s not just empty air wafting around between an introvert’s ears! Just because she’s sitting quietly doesn’t mean that she’s not very active mentally. Deep thoughts are most likely running through the introvert’s mind at any given moment. Sound weighty? It is! All this thinking adds to the difficulty of jumping into a group of people. An introvert’s mind is very powerful, and quite often an introvert thinks too hard about a situation (“What should I say? Should I smile more often? What is he thinking about?”). This makes it hard to relax and let the good energy flow.
Throw away all of your labels the next time you meet anyone of any age range who may seem snobby or shy to you. Like all human beings, introverts need understanding. Be respectful of the fact that we are all different, and we all need a little love. So be friendly (in a calm, unintimidating way) to the next introvert you meet. Or if you are an introvert, smile knowing that you are unique, special and perfect just the way you are.
Want to understand introverts and extroverts’ hard-wiring even more? This infographic breaks it down very nicely:
What is the Hero's Journey?
When I was in my early 20s and my father was dying, a friend gave me a painting. It depicted a river wending its way through soft mountains, with a small sailboat in the distance floating down the river. It struck me at the time as a metaphor for my life. And I was left with the sense that our life is like the journey in a fairy tale, a small vessel following the currents, passing through different terrains, in search of what’s around the next corner. The river knows where it’s going, but we on the boat do not.
On this life journey, we are each discovering the geography of our own inner world. And yet, when we take a step back and look at it from a larger perspective, that geography, and our life journey, is not so different from the basic story that humankind has been playing out since the beginning. Birth. Separation. Initiation.
Return. This shows up in our own lifecycle, and then in the countless ways that we are called to leave what is familiar to us and venture into the unfamiliar. Each of us slaying inner dragons and facing outer obstacles, to be reborn in a new version of ourselves, more true to who we are.
This death and rebirth motif shows up in stories and myths all over the world; is at the heart of some of our great religions; and animates our most powerful films.
George Lucas, struggling for years to create a film his heart had been calling him to write, was able to finish the Star Wars story while reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a 1000 Faces, which lays out the basic bones of the human story. Just as the heroes and heroines in that saga overcome fear and attachment to the familiar and rise up to be of real service to the Universe, we are each doing the same thing in our own universe.
Each of us is rising above our self-imposed limitations and outer challenges to expand our sense of self and walk our path of destiny. Joseph Campbell and the Hero’s Journey gave us a map to guide us, and signposts along the way, as we take our journey.