We introverts like people, but we don’t feel the need to be around them constantly.
As an introvert, I struggle to make friends and interact in social situations. I have often wondered if something is “wrong” with me and what I can do to change it.
But after a lot of reading and thinking, I now understand myself a lot better. You see, we introverts are often misunderstood. This isn’t a new statement, and it’s something that I have known for years. But with the rise of social media and online platforms, more information on the topic is available as of late. And there are entire websites — like this one! — dedicated to the subject.
So how do you acclimate if you’re an introvert? Is it okay to be the way you are? Or do you have to try to blend in with the extrovert ideal? How much time do you need to spend with others vs. time alone? See? There’s a lot to think about…
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People Often Get Things Wrong About Introverts
There are many different definitions of what it means to be an introvert. Still, the primary definition is centered around where you get your energy: Do you recharge in solitude? Or get energized around other people?
That last part is critical for understanding why introverts are misunderstood and why people get things wrong about us. For instance, we can often seem quiet or awkward when we’re actually just focused on processing information to engage with others later on.
Of course, I don’t know you and your personal journey, but I would like to share my experience, and perhaps something about it is helpful or brings you some value. Here are a few things that have made me feel misunderstood as an introvert.
Things Extroverts Get Wrong About Introverts
1. We like people, but we don’t feel the need to be around them constantly.
I like to spend time alone, but not because I’m shy — there’s a difference between being introverted and shy. I just need time to recharge my batteries to be more socially productive when interacting with others.
The problem is that I need help with the balance between being alone and spending time with others. I like having at least one friend who knows me well and will tell me when to leave my house: If I am left alone, I tend to stay isolated, and before I realize it, it’s been days (or weeks) since I had any meaningful social interaction.
When that happens, some of my friends judge or label me as someone who doesn’t like people. This is not true: I do like people, but I don’t feel the need to be with them constantly.
If you are like me, remember you aren’t necessarily shy, but instead, need some space from other people to recharge before returning to the world again. The comfort of your own house, a library, or a low-key cafe are excellent places to spend time alone and organize your thoughts before you get out among people again.
2. We’re not being rude. We may need time to process information before speaking.
I have now met many people like me who share the same experience. They may seem aloof — or even rude — at first glance. But once you get to know an introvert, you’ll find they’re incredibly thoughtful and intelligent individuals who love learning new things. They can appear quiet or shy, but add real value when they do speak.
As an introvert, I prefer interacting with people one-on-one rather than in large groups: I’m not fond of small talk or idle chit chat, which is more common among large groups. Rather, I enjoy deep conversations about interesting ideas, especially with good friends.
So just know that it is perfectly okay to think through what you want to say before you speak. You’ll probably come across as highly intelligent compared to someone who speaks just to speak and never stops talking!
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. It’s not that we don’t want to interact. We don’t like our quiet time interrupted.
One of the most frustrating experiences for introverts is being interrupted. When someone interrupts me, it’s a disruption of my thought process. It’s not that I don’t want to interact — it’s just that I want to do it on my terms.
When someone interrupts my quiet time, or tries to engage me in a conversation when it’s not convenient for me (like when I’m working), it can feel like an intrusion into my personal space. I might even feel like they are invading my brain space by interrupting my focus and concentration.
I wish more people understood this difference between extroverts and introverts, because then they could respect the way we introverts work best: alone or in small groups where there aren’t many distractions.
One thing that can help is to communicate your needs clearly and assertively. Let others know you need quiet time to think or work, ensuring minimal interruptions. That way, you can talk to them when it’s convenient for you (not the other way around).
4. We’re not unfriendly. We prioritize a few close friends who get us.
As you probably know, introverts don’t consider everyone their friend. To this end, I am selective about who I choose to spend my time with. I value deep connections with a few close friends rather than superficial relationships with many acquaintances, and this is something that extroverts may have a hard time understanding.
We do this because we need to be selective about how we spend our social energy. However, this selectivity can sometimes be misunderstood by others. People may interpret our preference for a few close friends as unfriendly, picky, or aloof. This can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
But being selective about friendships is an essential aspect of introverted life. It allows us to prioritize our social energy and spend time with people who genuinely understand and “get” us. However, it is vital to communicate these preferences to others to avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.
5. Introversion is not a weakness — we introverts have many strengths.
I sometimes struggle with feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt, usually when I don’t measure up to society-induced extroverted standards of success and popularity. It can be challenging to navigate a world that values outgoing social behavior and views introversion as a weakness. However, it’s important to remember that we introverts have many strengths — we’re great listeners, highly introspective, creative, focused… and I can go on and on!
One way to combat feelings of inadequacy is to practice self-compassion. If you are particularly susceptible to negative self-talk and feelings of self-doubt, start treating yourself with kindness and understanding. This way, you’ll build confidence in your abilities.
Remember: Success and popularity are not the only measures of value. You may excel in areas that could be more visible or celebrated in our culture. By focusing on your values and goals, rather than external standards of success, you will start feeling more confident and fulfilled in your life.
You might like:
- The Top 8 Misconceptions About Introverts
- 5 Things People Get Wrong About Introverts
- The Introvert’s Complete Guide to Making Friends Who ‘Get’ You
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