“Spunky and friendly” equal extrovert and “shy or quiet” equal introvert? NO!
Let’s begin by busting some misconceptions. The biggest mistake people make is that “spunky and friendly” equal extrovert and “shy or quiet” equal introvert. NO! Introvert and extrovert is not about personality. It’s about the frequency and intensity of a person’s need for people and social interaction. That means you can be very friendly and maybe even outgoing, but extended social environments (like parties or chagigas) can be draining for you. Or maybe you’re very quiet and reserved, but you love being around people and get a charge out of social stimulation. So it’s confusing! Did you ever hear of ambiverts? They have a mix of both introversion and extroversion. Ambiverts have also been called “outgoing introverts;” they’re introverts who are outgoing when they need to be, depending on the situation. Hmmm.
2. I would describe an introvert in twelve words: “Introverts know more than you think, and observe more than you know.” We just enjoy being the onlookers in most conversations, preferring to observe and listen rather than be in the spotlight. Because we’re not major players in social environments, our silence can come across to some as snobby. We’re not! Get to know us; our silence is nothing more than liking to observe and listen and not really feeling the need to make small talk. As a matter of fact, small talk can be very difficult (okay, maybe even painful!) for lots of us!
3. Let’s set the record straight: introverts do not spend their days holed up in their rooms, doing introspection! We definitely have close friends – maybe not as many as the average extrovert, but we do have friends! We love getting together with others, but being more reserved does mean that we need time alone to recharge too.
4. One of my closest friends is actually a major extrovert. She always needs to have people around. She’s very smart and very deep, and thrives on deep conversations with others. When she’s in a great mood, she needs her friends. When she’s in a horrible mood, she needs her friends. She always needs her friends! Needless to say, I’m not the first friend she calls! We joke about it—she knows I think it’s exhausting to be with others, and she thinks I’m missing out. To each her own.
5. The stereotype is that introverts are great listeners. I don’t know if it’s scientifically proven or not, but from experience, I would say it makes sense. We tend to do more thinking than speaking, so if a friend needs to just talk something out, we can really listen without jumping in with interruptions.
Thanks to S.M. for this idea, and to S.C. for her input
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 816)
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