Introversion is not something you can always see. It doesn’t always look like a person standing in the corner.
I am an introvert, but I also love people. I even come across as extroverted to some groups.
For a while, as a teenager, I categorized myself as an “unwilling introvert”: I needed alone time, but didn’t like that I did. As I’ve matured, though, I’ve realized that it isn’t that I don’t like being an introvert — it’s that I don’t know what to do as a friendly introvert.
I’ve heard too many people whisper to me, “She’s too much to really be an introvert” or “She doesn’t know that she’s actually an extrovert.” A lot of people define introverts incorrectly and
put us in a box labeled “shy” or “aloof” and then put it away. But there are those of us who can be friendly and outgoing, and also introverts.
Recently, I was introduced to the idea of an “extroverted” introvert, people who are introverted, but have some qualities of extroversion, as well. After all, introversion and extroversion are not all-or-nothing traits, and we all fall somewhere on this spectrum. This gave me a clearer word for my type of introversion, but I’ve still interacted with many people who don’t understand what that means. So here are some common misconceptions I’ve run into about being a friendly introvert.
5 Misconceptions About Friendly Introverts
1. They aren’t actually introverts — if they like talking to people, they must be an extrovert!
This is a common one, for people tend to think a friendly introvert cannot possibly be an introvert — someone sees a talkative person and assumes they’re an extrovert.
I have a friend who, like me, can be outgoing in certain settings. When he is comfortable with people, he loves being the center of attention, but he is an introvert. He needs alone time to recharge and can get overwhelmed in certain groups.
I remember one of my other introverted friends leaning over to me and saying that he obviously didn’t know he’s actually an extrovert and just liked thinking of himself as an introvert. She assumed that just because he wasn’t the exact type of introvert she was, that he must be an extrovert.
But, in reality, every introvert is different and comfortable with different things. Some introverts have social anxiety and get overwhelmed in social settings, while others love some attention (and even performing). Both types are relevant and valid, and this does not make one person “less” of an introvert than the other.
Introversion is not something you can always see: It doesn’t always look like a person standing in the corner. Instead, it may be the person who’s the life of the party, who then has to spend hours alone afterwards.
2. They don’t like you and use needing “alone time” as an excuse.
Sometimes, people assume that a friendly introvert is using alone time as an excuse to not hang out with them. They will hear an outgoing person say that they need alone time and take it personally, assuming that they just want to get away from that specific person.
Alternatively, a friendly introvert may act outgoing and social in most situations, but then run into someone when their social battery is drained. The person then assumes that they don’t like them because they aren’t being as friendly as usual and, in some cases, will stop inviting them to events. This is a common misunderstanding. People often assume that friendly people will be friendly only until they are with someone they don’t like. They don’t think about how an introvert’s social battery is drained or that they really need alone time — right now. Instead, they take it personally.
I’ve learned to handle this by telling people that I need alone time, not because of them personally, but because I need to recharge my energy.
3. They must be faking their friendliness.
When people understand that someone is an introvert, they sometimes also assume that their friendliness is an act. I won’t lie, sometimes I put on a smile and talk about nothing when all I want to do is escape the conversation at hand; but, usually, I genuinely enjoy talking to people.
The misconception here is that every introvert has to fake every friendly interaction. When they’re talking to someone, anyone, they are secretly planning their escape. Here’s the thing, though — no one enjoys talking to everyone. Whether you’re an introvert or not, someone will rub you the wrong way or strike up a conversation at the wrong time.
Introverts may have more hours in the day where they don’t want to talk to people than extroverts, but we can also genuinely enjoy conversations. As an introvert, I get overwhelmed in groups, but love one-on-one conversations. I could talk for hours about literature, theology, or Taylor Swift’s brilliance, but small talk is harder.
Many introverts are also often the people who know exactly which person is uncomfortable in the room. We are the ones who have stood in the corner enough times at a party to keep an eye on it and start up a conversation with the person standing there now. Sometimes we are friendly because we know how important it is for someone to listen and care about what we have to say.
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4. They don’t need to prepare for socializing.
Introverts need time to prepare for social situations. Something I’ve run into, though, is the assumption that because I’m friendly, I’m down to hang out at any given moment. If a friend texts and asks if I want to come to a game night right now, I probably don’t want to. I haven’t stored up the energy I need to be social yet.
I need time to prepare at least a few hours in advance (maybe even a whole day), so I know not to use up too much of my social battery on other things. If I go to an event without preparation time, I may stare at the floor the entire time, wondering when it’s acceptable for me to leave.
Once again, everyone is different. One person may need a 10-minute warning and another may need a week. But, in my experience, planning ahead allows for an introvert to be intentionally energized for the event.
5. They enjoy every type of social situation.
People like different levels of socializing. Like 99% of the introverts I know, I love one-on-one hangouts or small-group situations (fewer than five people). Anything larger than that, and I begin to get overwhelmed and am likely to run out of energy faster or just retreat into my shell.
People assume that since I’m friendly in one-on-one conversations, I must also love big group hangouts or long hangouts. But different events take up different amounts of energy for me. Even the group dynamic plays a role in how tiring it is. In a room full of outgoing people, I will get exhausted trying to get a word in, but if I’m one of the more outgoing people in a smaller group, I can chat and socialize for hours.
Thankfully, these misconceptions may make for some awkward situations, but they aren’t the end of the world. My point is this: Friendly introverts exist — we love people and also need alone time. We’re all different, but we all want to be seen and loved for who we are, not pressured into being what people assume an introvert looks like.