I’m an introvert, and I have a confession: I like people. Well, most of the time.
I’ve noticed in many introvert communities online there is a certain stigma attached to being introverted that is perpetuated by extroverts and introverts alike — that introverts hate people. We’d rather die than go to a social event. The idea of hanging out with friends is pure torture to our sensitive souls. Each time our phone rings we have a minor panic attack. While these articles and memes are funny and relatable to an extent, they send the wrong message about introversion. I want to clear this up because I believe that learning about temperament is essential to better understanding ourselves and others. It’s unfair to classify all introverts as anti-social, just like it’s unfair to stereotype all extroverts as wild partiers.
A similar misconception is that introverts hate small talk because we hate people. Disliking small talk is not a trait of introversion. Most people don’t enjoy small talk or forced conversation with people who they’re not comfortable around. 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. The better you become at something, the less you dislike it, generally.
The Truth About Introverts
While introverts don’t hate people, 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 is no such thing as too much alone time. But this doesn’t mean we can’t be at a party for 15 minutes before needing to escape and hide under the covers with our cats.
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explains: “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. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family.”
I enjoy parties, as long as there are plenty of like-minded people who I can engage in interesting discussions with. Afterward, I’ll probably want to 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 option, I try to make the best of my time there.
Many introverts also identify as shy or socially anxious. These are qualities that make events like parties and other social gatherings harder to go to and get through. Although many introverts identify as shy or socially anxious, these are not unique qualities of introversion. Many extroverts experience shyness and social anxiety, as well.
Why We Should Quit Saying Introverts Hate People
If we want to educate others on what being an introvert means, we have to stop spreading the “introverts hate people” posts. The introvert-positive movement has done a lot to help extroverts understand and respect our quiet temperament. But it’s a lot harder to get people to understand you if you’re constantly reminding them of how much you hate them.
Another reason we should quit saying introverts hate people is that it’s simply not true. Very few of us would give up our loved ones for a life of complete isolation. If that’s what we really wanted, more introverts would be hermits or monks. Most humans need community and relationships to be happy. We need coffee dates, long phone conversations, and gatherings with friends. As introverts, we just need a little less of these things than others. And that’s ok.