I… am an introvert. Here are a few ways I’ve been misintrepreted all my life because of it. Can you relate?
I’ll come right out with it: I… am an introvert. It’s not as cut-and-dried a thing as some would have you believe, so this isn’t going to one of those blog posts that attempts to put all of us in a single box. Still, here are a few things I’ve had to deal with all my life because of it. Let me know if you can relate!
1. People think I’m angry at the world
The life of an introvert isn’t always an easy one, especially growing up. Things that seem natural to others might not come naturally at all to us. Conversely, the reverse is also true. As a result we end up in our own heads a lot, working life out and examining why it is the way it is – why we relate with so few of our peers.
This can and does lead to anger from time to time, and the truth is that this is a healthy process. We need to be able to work out our confusion and anger and other difficult feelings. I believe that when we’re allowed to do that, we can take the next step which is to create the change that we want to see, whether it’s in our own lives or the lives of others.
It can be easy to accept the status quo – many people do – but for an introvert, it is often intolerable because they spend so much time observing the extroverts, the ones who put themselves in the spotlight. It can be easy to get frustrated by people who seem to refuse to acknowledge certain problems, especially when other more positive things don’t appear to be present to balance things out.
This is to some degree something that we can manage simply by shifting our attention, as I’ve learned to do out of necessity to get things done.
2. People think I’m full of myself
When an introvert is not well-accepted in social circles, the first instinct is to self-examine, and question “Is there something wrong with me?”
This can manifest itself in various ways, such as self-image issues, or focusing a lot on “I” in writing. “I” this, “I’m” that. Recently I looked back on 10 years worth of social media updates and realized how many different profile pictures had accumulated, how many personal projects I’d tried to promote which never got off the ground, and so on. It was easy to see how someone who does not know me might mistake doing what we believe is normal and that everyone does, for being a complete narcissist.
There are also particular subjects which, if you get me going on, I might be very opinionated about; combined with the above and some of the other mistaken traits covered here, it’s my belief that introverts can too easily be mistaken as very arrogant people, with nothing to back it up.
Moreover, arrogant extroverts are often respected or even worshiped because they are more likely to be publicly involved in many projects which get done – they’re seen as go-getters. But is the quality of the work always up to snuff?
3. People think I’m lazy
You probably know at least one person – maybe it’s you – who seems to sleep until mid-afternoon every day. An early morning would be considered a day where you get up at 11.
The fact is that working at night time is far more conducive to getting creative work done, including writing, art, music and other disciplines which require quiet and lack of interruptions, such as phone calls or traffic going by every two seconds. The following video by James Rolfe says it succinctly, so I’ll let him take this one from here.
4. People think I’m simple
I don’t always say an awful lot during a group conversation, or even a one-on-one conversation, especially when it’s: A. a topic I don’t care about, or B. one which I feel I have yet to form a sufficient opinion on.
It’s been my observation that many folks are great at blathering on and on about just about anything under the sun. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I wish that it was a skill I had, but at the same time, there is also value in getting to the point. Unfortunately, speaking skills are often mistaken for intelligence. But it isn’t that so much as it is a knack for being able to regurgitate “facts” most of us are usually aware of, whether we agree with them or not.
The worst times are when someone asks a question which I provide a short answer to, and there isn’t any real followup; The ole “yep…” “soo, that’s it” and awkward look down at the table or sip of coffee.
The way I see it, if you want to carry on a conversation, then nothing’s stopping you. If you keep on asking about stuff I don’t feel like being super forthcoming about, that’s hardly my fault. Besides, introvert or not, who really likes being pelted with personal questions? Very few of us, I’d wager.
5. People think I’m not a team player
Take the fact that I tend to keep my answers short, yet am very opinionated on certain things, take the fact that I’m not an early-bird and may appear avoidant, that I don’t always act agreeable with whatever I’m told, and combine all this with my interest in many creative fields.
I’ve referred to myself in the past as a Jack-of-all-trades; I can hold my own as a musician, artist, designer, technician, and a bunch else, which might make it seem like I think I don’t need anyone else’s help, or that I’m not interested in helping others. But that isn’t true.
What is true is that I am interested in involving myself in the overall look and feel of artistic projects, which these days can comprise the jobs of hundreds, depending on what it is. I have taken on goals which time proved might have been slightly too lofty, but each time I was always interested in one thing primarily – showing that the same work can be done with less people, and less money.
Industries are often extremely bloated nowadays, and work is either outsourced or the grunt workers are laid off because such team sizes and budgets are, in the long run, unsustainable.
As an introvert, this is a problem with the world I’ve identified, and sometimes that might lead to the appearance of not being a “team player”, but so be it. When there are worthwhile teams to be on, you can bet I’m there and willing to take on the smallest role, if necessary.
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