Until recently, I’d never given much thought about whether I was an introvert or an extrovert.
This was until, last year I was faced with a solo trip to Boston, MA for HubSpot’s INBOUND conference, and I knew that ‘networking’ with strangers was something way out of my comfort zone. However, I was prepared to give it my all, and I was very relieved when I met a girl, also from the UK, and we appeared to hit it off straight away. In fact, on the last day of the conference we even made dinner plans – which was a big deal for me.
As we sat down to eat, I confessed to her that I was completely nervous about meeting new people and that I was really surprised at myself that I was having dinner with somebody that I had met only three days prior.
‘I am quite surprised at you too’, she answered. ‘For somebody who is quite introverted, that is quite out of character’.
Inside my head was screaming ‘An introvert?! How dare she tarnish me with such a brush after only three days of knowing me’. However, when I really thought about it…she was completely right. I suppose I had been quite taken back at how quickly she had me figured out, and how, when I thought I was stepping out of my comfort zone and appearing more confident, I was still showing introvert qualities.
It’s taken me a long time to accept that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert.
Personally I’d much rather be an introvert than an extrovert. I enjoy my own company, but I also enjoy the company of my friends and family. I don’t have to be the last one standing on a night out, or the life and soul of the party, but I am okay with that. I’d much rather stay in and watch Netflix all night than go on a bender. And sometimes, I am just not in the mood to socialise at all. It’s nothing personal, it’s just who I am.
So if you are having a hard time admitting your personality type – here are five misconceptions about being an introvert. Hopefully some of you will be able to relate to them!
Introverts don’t like people
People wrongly assume that introverts don’t like people. We definitely do like people, but we might not want to be around them all the time. I am terrible for not answering the phone, even if it’s in my hand and it’s a close friend calling. It’s nothing personal, I just haven’t mentally prepared myself for what’s to come. It sounds ridiculous, but sometimes I need ten minutes to gather my thoughts before calling back. I also don’t have a big group of friends – and most of them were made either at school or in the last five years. I didn’t come out of university with a clique of girls. I may be selective about the people that I consider to be friends, but I am incredibly loyal and grateful for each and every one of them.
Introverts are shy
In some situations, I may come across as being shy – but usually it’s because I can’t stand small talk. Networking is the worst. The idea of having to big myself up to a group of strangers triggers imposter syndrome and fills me with dread. I’ll mostly be floating around the drinks table at a networking event waiting for somebody to approach me. I also have a terrible case of ‘resting bitch face’ – but I am happy, I promise!
Introverts don’t like to party
I definitely like a party, and to dance (badly!) – but only when I am in the mood for it, and I’ve come to accept that it is completely fine if I am not feeling it. Wanting to stay in doesn’t make me dull. Occasionally, I am made to feel that I am boring or missing out if I don’t want to go to every gathering/evening out I am invited to. I don’t need to justify that my ideal evening involves binge-watching The Crown and eating pizza!
Introverts can’t be leaders
It can be thought that introverts wouldn’t make good leaders, however they have the potential to bring out the best in people. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt on my leadership journey, it’s that I work best if I am with a group of self-starters. I struggle if I am expected to ‘spark up’ a meeting, but if my colleagues are happy to steam ahead, I am much better at bringing ideas to the table. I’d also rather be an expert in a few things than know a little about a lot of things. This means I can get a bit intense about some subjects – especially if it’s something I am passionate about!
Introverts don’t like to share much
I share a lot of information online, via this blog and social media. I never share anything I wouldn’t be happy to discuss in real life – but I might not volunteer this information in person. Everything I put online is usually a result of careful consideration – because as an introvert, I hate to feel rushed or unprepared.
There’s no ‘better’ personality type, and it’s okay to be an introvert, an ambivert or an extrovert. Personality types can (and should) mix, and just because you are one type doesn’t mean that your friends and partners will be the same.
What personality type are you? And do you have any particular traits that are mis-understood? Let me know in the comments.