A lot of people have the wrong idea about introversion. They imagine introverts to be disturbed recluses who never leave their dark bedrooms. They think introverts are incapable of public speaking, leading, or socializing. They confuse introversion with depression, anxiety, or mental illness.
(These stereotypes may be why so many true introvert mis-type themselves as ambiverts.)
I come face-to-face with misconceptions about introversion all the time, because I’m writing a book about introverts. When people find out I’m writing a book, the conversation often goes something like this:
Person: “So what’s your book about?”
Person: (looking at me strangely) “Are you an introvert?”
Person: “But you can’t be! You talk to people.”
The truth is really am an introvert. I have been one my whole life. Growing up, people asked me, “Why are you so quiet?” Sometimes they still ask me that today. As a writer, I spend most of the day alone. And I’m choosy about the social events I attend. But people are often shocked to learn that I’m an introvert because I’m not cowering in a corner or staring at my shoes. Sometimes I talk. And make jokes. And even have a good time.
You might be like me. People don’t think you’re an introvert — in part because of their own misconceptions about what introversion means and in part because you’re more of an outgoing introvert. So here are 15 signs that you’re actually an introvert, even though people say you’re not:
1. You find people to be both intriguing and exhausting. You become deeply interested in others, especially figuring out what makes someone tick. But you can only interact with people for so long. After enough chitchat, you wish you were back home, alone.
2. You enjoy occasionally hosting social events. Being the host gives you some measure of control over who is invited and what will happen. But you’re praying that everyone will leave by 10 p.m., because playing the extrovert for a few hours is exhausting.
3. You alternate between staying home and going out with friends. If you hung out with friends on a Saturday, you’re probably back in your introvert bubble Sunday.
4. You can be charming and fun yet introspective and reflective. You easily switch from silly, lighthearted banter to deeper topics.
5. You like going to bars, clubs, concerts, and parties every once in a while, but you need a lot of downtime to recover afterward. As in, you’re off the grid for the next few days.
6. You like knowing what’s going on in your friends’ lives, and you’re often willing to lend a listening ear. But you’re never going to be available 24/7. You often let calls go to voicemail or don’t answer text messages right away because you’re enjoying your peace and quiet.
7. It’s easy for you to go several days without calling or texting anyone. You enjoy being alone, and in fact, you often welcome it. Only when you feel rested and recharged do you turn your attention back to the social world.
8. It’s easier for you to make meaningful conversation than it is to do small talk. That’s because you crave deep, authentic connections.
9. You’ve read books like How to Win Friends & Influence People and How to Talk to Anyone. You’ve had to work at having social skills. You went through a period of being incredibly awkward until you made a conscious effort to get better at “people-ing.”
10. You have a close group of friends you hang out with on weekends. But you don’t hang out with just anybody. The people in your inner circle are the ones you’ve carefully selected. They are the rare people who actually energize you, not drain you.
11. You can network, but you feel like a phony the entire time. You might say things to yourself like, “Smile, make eye contact, and use your loud-confident voice!” Then, when you’re finished, you feel beat, and you need downtime to recover. You wonder, “Does everyone else have to try this hard when meeting new people?”
12. Your energy level is closely tied to your environment. You feel differently listening to a band at your favorite local music club than you do watching a huge rock concert in a stadium. Likewise, when you’re at places where you feel comfortable — or places that have just the right ambiance — you have more energy.
13. You have a job where you deal with people all day (like a teacher, manager, social worker, etc.) so everyone assumes you’re an extrovert. What they don’t know is you crash with exhaustion the moment you get home.
14. You tell other people intimate details about your life when you feel comfortable around them. You have no problem posting the occasional selfie or social media update. But when you’re around people you don’t know well, you clam up. It takes a while for your real personality to come out.
15. Everyone else has fun plans for the weekend, but you’re looking forward to doing “nothing.”
What would you add to this list?
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