“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas.” — Susan Cain
I am an introvert and I have a confession: I like people.
Well, most of the time.
I’ve noticed in many introvert communities online that there is a certain stigma attached to being introverted that is perpetuated by extroverts and introverts alike — that all introverts dislike people and try to avoid company at all cost. I want to clear this up because I believe that learning about personality type is essential to better understanding ourselves and others. It’s unfair to classify all introverts as anti-social beings who always prefer to read by the window rather than go out to coffee with friends. Just like it is unfair to stereotype all extroverts as crazy partiers who if left alone for too long become needier than a 4-week-old puppy.
Disliking small talk or being around certain types of people is not a trait of introversion. Most people don’t enjoy small talk or forced conversation with people who they’re not comfortable around. Yes, some extroverts are better at these things, but that has more to do with the fact that they socialize more in general than introverts do. The more you do anything, the better you become at it. Being a good conversationalist is not an inherent quality of extroversion, it’s more like a consequence.
The truth about introverts is that we do get drained by being around other people for extended periods of time. We recharge by spending time alone. For many of us, there really is no such thing as too much alone time. What a lot of videos, articles, memes, etc. get wrong about introversion is painting us as the type of individuals who can’t be at a party for 15 minutes before needing to escape and go hide under the covers with our cats.
I enjoy parties, as long as there are plenty of like-minded people who I can engage in interesting discussions with. Afterwards, I’ll probably want to go hibernate for a while, but that doesn’t mean I hated every minute I spent around other humans. I can’t speak for every introvert, but personally, if I don’t want to be at a party, I won’t go, and if I’m in a situation where that’s not a simple choice, I try to make the best of my time there.
Many introverts also identify as shy or socially anxious. These are qualities that might make events like parties and other social gatherings harder to go to and get through. But again, these are not unique qualities of introversion.
If we want to truly educate people on what it means to be an introvert, we have to stop spreading the “people hating” posts. The point is to educate people on introversion, but it’s a lot harder to make people understand you if you’re constantly reminding them of how much you dread their presence.