We Are Not Shy!

Debunking the myth of the meek introvert

“Introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly.”

Susan Cain

Every personality test I’ve taken states that I am an introvert. The people who know me wouldn’t call me ‘shy’ or ‘reserved’. I do quite well in social settings and enjoy being around friends. I will show up at your party and mingle. I’ve given panel discussions on stage as well. I have no problem being in front of, and among, crowds.

However, I need to recharge after long hours of socialising. It gets very draining for me to be around so many people. I enjoy my solitude, and I am more focused when I have alone time with my thoughts. Unless I am comfortable with someone or something, external stimulation makes me quite anxious.

On the other hand, I have a friend who has all the stereotypical traits of an introvert. He is shy, reserved, and quite socially awkward. He gets nervous to talk to people he doesn’t know. He’s timid too. But guess what? Every personality test he has ever taken states that he is an extrovert.

Even though he doesn’t thrive in social settings, he gets bored quickly. If possible, he’d want to hang out with his close friends 24/7. He gets lethargic being at home for too long and gets energised when he’s out around people. He doesn’t like feeling isolated.

Myths about the introvert

Many people have the misconception that introverts are quiet and mysterious. They are supposed to be people who don’t enjoy socialising or any attention. This is far from the truth. Many introverts can pass as extroverts because they are socially adept.

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  1. “Introverts are shy.” While it is true that there are shy introverts, many of us also aren’t. We have no problem making new friends or starting conversations with strangers. Just allow us time to re-energise afterwards because socialising drains our batteries.
  2. “Introverts don’t talk a lot.” This misconception is laughable. A lot of us don’t only talk a lot, but we’re also very outspoken. We become talkative when it comes to the right topics and during discussions. Just don’t be surprised if we’re quiet the next moment. We’re probably just resting.
  3. “Introverts don’t enjoy company.” We love being around people! As long as they are the right people. Introverts don’t detest social interactions; we just become tired after long hours of it. We’re not moody in groups either. We want to have fun too!

It should also be known that the introvert and extrovert personality trait is not either-or; it is a spectrum. Most people are a mixture of both, with more inclination to one side or the other.

When someone says that they are an introvert, it is not our place to tell them that they are lying. “How are you an introvert when you like taking selfies?” (Yes, this is an actual comment someone made on Twitter)

A comment I saw on Twitter that triggered this piece.

In all honesty, you cannot know if someone is an introvert or not by the way they act. And definitely not by the number of selfies they take! Only an individual can understand themselves.

Regardless of who you are, there is nothing wrong with your personality. Extroversion is not better than introversion, or vice versa. It is just an explanation of how you handle yourself.

If you’d like to find out if you’re more of an introvert or an extrovert, you can take this little quiz.

This article was originally published on Medium.