Introverts are shy, reserved, and have deep emotional worlds (as if extroverts don’t).
Extroverts are confident, outgoing, and always want to be around people (as if they have unlimited energy).
You’ve heard this before, right?
Myths about our personalities remain so pervasive. Blame oversimplified or just flat-out wrong depictions in media.
After all, the truth is that content about the field of personality psychology is appealing to so many people—and because anyone can easily draw inaccurate conclusions from the science.
But in this article, let’s set the record straight about introverts (and extroverts), shall we?
Here you are the 9 myths about introverted people, debunked.
1) Being introverted automatically means being shy
Pop psychologists have made us belive that inbeing troverted is synonymous with being shy.
This conflation is probably the biggest misconception people have about introverts.
While in some ways (emphasis on some), introversion can make people shy, this is a huge oversimplification.
Many, many people are introverted but not shy at all.
If that were the case, half the population would be particularly, noticeably shyer than the other half—and we all know that’s not how it is, right?
Similarly, many extroverts can also be on the shyer side!
2) Introverts prefer to be alone
There’s also a popular belief that introverts always want to be alone, or at least most of the time.
Again, there is a bit of truth to this when we paint in very broad strokes. However, everyone, both introverts and extroverts, all have times when they want to be alone and times when they want human contact.
Introverts aren’t hermits or recluses or loners. If they were, we’d rarely ever see them. But they integrate and interact with society and other people all the time!
They may need some extra time to recharge relative to others, but again, this can easily apply to many extroverts too.
3) Introverts hate socializing
If introverts are the supposed loners, extroverts are the socializers.
The party people…
The popular kids
These people are the extroverts!
Well, supposedly, at least. On the other hand, introverts should theoretically absolutely hate socializing. Just the sight of another human being makes them sick.
Well, that’s what mainstream misconceptions about the whole introvert vs. extrovert thing want you to think.
Many introverts are very social. One of my best friends is an introvert and absolutely loves being the life of the party. Some of my other introverted friends are also incredibly talkative!
You’d be surprised how many people you initially thought were extroverts are actually introverts.
4) Introverts have no life
Perhaps the most insulting misconception of all: introverts are boring people who have no life.
First of all, excuse me?
Second of all, while you may be right and I do myself sometimes I think I’m boring, it’s not necessarily because of my introversion.
Unfortunately, when most people think of “fun,” they think of hobbies related to extroverts, like:
- Social events.
And on the other hand, more solitary hobbies typically associated with introverts are looked down upon. Things such as:
- Playing video games;
- Watching movies;
- Making art.
Again, many introverts love doing the outdoorsy and social stuff, and many extroverts love being at home, too. And many, many more, enjoy both!
Just because a lot of introverts aren’t necessarily as bubbly or externally passionate about things doesn’t mean they’re boring.
Many introverts are simply a bit more reluctant to share their lives because our world, in many ways, favors extroverts.
5) Introverts are timid and spineless
Another fairly insulting misconception is the idea that introverts (due to their shyness) are too weak to handle any conflict. Supposedly, they shy away from any sort of confrontation, and tense situations make them crumble.
Sure, introverts require more time to prepare for a highly emotional situation. However, this doesn’t mean that we can’t handle or resolve it just as well as extroverts do.
In fact, if anything, an introvert’s more interior-focused nature makes them adept at reading other people’s emotions.
Because they are able to see the perspective of all parties involved and can help bring forth a good compromise. Not to mention, their calming presence helps settle things down!
6) Introverts can’t network as well as extroverts
A recent study found that introversion had links to creativity and a strong sense of self-identity. While typically not as outgoing or as outspoken relative to extroverts, their self-reflective and thoughtful nature can be valuable in other ways in the workplace.
If you’ve been working long enough, you’ll know that success largely depends on your network. Who you know can open up so many opportunities for you.
This leads people to believe that extroverts have a huge advantage in the workplace because they tend to connect with more people.
However, quality beats quantity!
While extroverts may have an edge regarding the number of people they meet, introverts may have the upper hand when it comes to deepening the relationships.
So, if you’re an introvert worried whether you can succeed in your career, then worry not. Simply play to your strengths (whatever they are), and you’ll do great.
7) Introverts are “deeper” than extroverts
Now, this one is insulting to the extroverts. Because introverts tend to be more reserved, people think they’re smarter, more creative, or think more deeply about things than extroverts.
In fact, I know a lot of introverts want to think that about themselves!
This simply isn’t true. While the study we cited above states that there are links between introversion and creativity, this link is correlational—not causational—or tenuous at best.
After all, creativity and intelligence can manifest in an incredibly wide array of ways. Sure, some forms may occur slightly more often in introverts than extroverts or vice-versa, but they are all just as valid, beautiful, and useful.
Holding a good conversation, for example, is a talent—an intelligence—and an art form just as much as writing a good short story is.
8) Introverts are snobbish
At times, an introvert’s preference for solitude is misconstrued as rudeness or snobbishness—or, worse, misanthropy. But introverts are not rude!
Well, of course, some are, but again, the same can be said for extroverts.
So the next time an introvert answers with a “Sorry, do I know you?” when you approach them, try not to take it against you.
Most of the time, they have no ill intent, and it’s just their nature to somewhat limit their external interactions.
I remember that one time I was with two of my friends. One friend who was extroverted was ranting about the horrible week she had at work.
Then, after she was done, she complained that my other friend (who’s introverted) didn’t have anything to say. She said that she felt like her other friend didn’t care about what she was saying.
Of course, my other friend quickly clarified that she was actually thinking about and internalizing her situation and just couldn’t think of anything helpful to tell her.
Neither people here are wrong! We just need to navigate the differences we may have.
9) Introverts have no emotions—or are too emotional
There are two contradicting misconceptions about introverts and their emotions.
On one hand, some people think that introverts are unfeeling robots just because they are not as expressive.
But you know, just because they’re not beaming and smiling when you meet them doesn’t mean they are not happy to see you.
On the other hand, the other stereotype states that introverts are overly introspective, which makes them too emotional. All they think and talk about all the timeis their feelings.
Once again, neither is particularly true. Of course, these characteristics can apply to some people, but introverts as a group cannot be described in either way.
People are simply more complex than this!
So, what is an introvert? And what is an extrovert?
You can be an introvert and want to be the life of the party.
In the same vein, you can be an extrovert, and your main hobby can be staying at home and losing yourself in a book.
Unfortunately, there are lots of misconceptions about both introverts and extroverts! In fact, most people don’t truly understand introversion and extroversion as concepts.
No, it’s not about being shy or being outgoing. We’ve already established that.
It’s not exactly about where you gain your energy from, either. The popular notion is that introverts gain energy by being alone and extroverts love spending time with others. However, that is a bit closer to the truth.
The true difference is their psychological orientation: introverts are more focused inward, while extroverts are more focused outward.
Introverts tend to think of themselves more and their own thoughts and feelings. Extroverts have their attention geared more towards what’s going on in their external world.
Now, as you can see, this can definitely lead to the stereotypes and misconceptions being somewhat true for some people.
But then again, no one is completely internally or externally oriented. We all exist somewhere in between, perhaps leaning more towards one end of the spectrum, depending on the situation.
After all, we’re all beautifully complex people!