I'm an introvert to the core, and there's a good chance that either you or someone you know is, as well. As a child I was called shy, a common misconception about introverts. I remember many times when I would run upstairs and hide when people came to our door. I didn’t want to interact with someone who wasn't in my immediate comfort zone.
If you happen to be my neighbor, I apologize. I still hide when someone knocks at the door. When I hear a knock and can't see front door window I become quiet, shush the kids and hide near the window, peeking out. My kids laugh at me. It's actually a very ridiculous situation.
As I write this, I realize I may have to re-evaluate my sanity and you may be questioning it too. That said, the following five traits are what I consider to be some commonly misunderstood characteristics of introverts, coming from a true introvert herself.
1. Introverts are not just shy.
Shy is a general term given to people who are quiet and don’t open up in crowds. In truth, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people. Being an introvert does not mean being fearful of others. It is more of an internal energy shift that happens when an introvert is surrounded by people not already admitted to her comfort zone.
2. Introverts are not snobs.
This is a challenge for the introverted. It is nearly impossible for an introvert to include herself in groups of people or to just start a random conversation. It's much easier for introverts to keep to themselves. This does not mean introverts feel superior to others. It simply means they aren't comfortable in these situations. Remember that energy thing above.
3. Introverts love to be social.
When in a comfortable situation among friends, who have already made the energy cut, introverts can be loud and be lots of fun. Socializing with the right group can actually offer lots of positive energy to an introvert. A word of caution: as soon as a stranger walks into one of these groups, an introvert will very likely fall back to protect her comfort zone.
4. Introverts do become envious at the ease in which others can socialize.
To introverts, just the thought of including themselves in a strange group of people can be almost painful. It can actually be impossible. That doesn’t mean that they don’t occasionally wish to be capable of including themselves in these situations.
5. Introverts are generally very introspective.
When you see introverts sitting quietly by themselves, deep thoughts are probably running through their minds. Sometimes, it's all this thinking that adds to the difficulty of jumping into a group of people. An introvert’s mind is very powerful, and quite often an introvert thinks too hard about a situation. This makes it hard to relax and let the good energy flow.
The next time you come across someone, even a child, who you think is shy or a snob, think twice about this label. Introverts need understanding. We are all different and need understanding and support. Don’t challenge the introvert and don’t push yourself up on them. Being calm and friendly can work wonders for an introvert.
Introverts unite! It just may have to be in the quiet of our own homes.