Not too long ago I was in a situation where someone told me they were purposefully being rude to “get me out of my shell.” Besides my immediate reaction of “who the heck does something like that?” I was also struck by the overwhelming misconception that there is something wrong with introversion or that introversion equals hiding. Neither of those things are true.
A few days ago, The Huffington Post published 23 Signs You’re Secretly an Introvert. For the most part, this was a really great article. Too many articles about introversion equate the concept with shyness or tell people that they must change their personality to fit into society better.
Here’s a great quote from the article:
“Introversion is a basic temperament, so the social aspect — which is what people focus on — is really a small part of being an introvert,” Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, psychotherapist and author of “The Introvert Advantage,” said in a Mensa discussion. “It affects everything in your life.”
For me, being an introvert is about being an observer in life, but that doesn’t mean I’m not actively participating. I’m actively observing. I prefer to observe and only offer my points of view when I feel they will add value to a situation. In other words, I prefer not to waste my breath.
Here are some points from the article that I really loved:
1. Introverts find small talk “cumbersome.” Cumbersome was the word used by the article, but I’d swap it out for annoying and disingenuous. Later on, the article mentions that introverts find networking “phony” – small talk makes me feel the same way. It seems utterly pointless. If there is nothing of value to say then why say anything?
2. Introverts are often called “too intense.” I really don’t know where this comes from, but it’s true. The article says that it’s because introverts like to get into philosophical conversations more than extroverts. I haven’t actually found that to be true, because I’ve had amazing philosophical discussions with extroverts. I think it might come from the quiet nature of introverts. People find silence intense, which is weird to me… but then again, I’m an introvert.
3. Introverts notice details and have a constant inner monologue. I’m combining these two points because I think they go together. In a way, they also tie in with the above point. Most introverts are really great at detecting patterns and spotting bullshit. A lot of introverts (especially INFJs like myself), tend to call people on their bullshit or point out details everyone else would rather overlook. For most introverts, it’s rather impossible to ignore subtleties – to us, subtleties are obvious and are brains aren’t wired to simply ignore them. Introverts are like investigators. Like I said, I equate introversion with observing; investigating is a natural progression of that. We have to know what everything means and how everything connects. Our brains don’t rest until we have mapped every interaction and every possible history or future relating to that action.
4. Writers are most often introverts. Needs no comment.
I really hope I see more articles like this one in the future. We need more articles that foster acceptance of the full range of humanity, rather than shaming anyone who has a personality that doesn’t fit into popular culture’s concept of “what makes a person awesome.”