Before I moved into my new home, the seller and I had a few papers to sign, so we met up at her soon-to-be-my place with her realtor and mine in tow. We were making small talk about our jobs, when she suggested that, as a professor, she was an excellent judge of character.
“You’re like an open book,” she said pointing to me. “You’re an extrovert, and love being the center of attention. You were probably really popular in school too. My guess is, you’re in a job where you interact with the public a lot.”
In my head, I said, “Darling, don’t quit your job and become a profiler for the FBI.” Out loud, I said:
“What makes you say that?”
“You’re good at making conversation, you’re funny and friendly. I’m right, aren’t I?” she said with an air of over-confidence.
“No. I’m actually the total opposite. I’m an introvert. In school, I was quiet, kind of nerdy, and much more invisible than popular. I’m a writer and researcher, and mostly work on individual projects. I’d rather read a book than go to a party and being in a crowd for too long makes me uncomfortable.”
I’m not really sure what I enjoyed more: Watching the look of cocky triumph fade from her face, or busting her belief that introverts can’t be outgoing, witty, and fun.
Here are a few other misconceptions I’d like to share, thanks to data we collected form 9,455 extroverts and introverts (take THAT professor!):
Misconceptions about introverts:
- They’re not good at expressing themselves out loud.
- They’re indecisive.
- They’re unapproachable.
- They refuse to talk about themselves.
- They’re prone to moodiness, depression or melancholy.
- They have difficulty adjusting to change.
- They’re pessimistic, cynical and don’t trust people.
- They’re not good conversationalists.
- They lack confidence.
- They’re not as ambitious or driven as extroverts.
Misconceptions about extroverts:
- They hate working on solo projects.
- They hate spending time alone.
- They’ll reveal personal details about themselves to anyone who is willing to listen
- They hate downtime.
- They’re completely open about their feelings.
- They thrive under stress (This isn’t to say that extroverts are not resilient, but even they feel the pressure sometimes – they just may not show it).
- They always assert themselves and feel comfortable doing so.
- They don’t over-think things and instead, just act (Actually, many extroverts admitted that they have tendency to over-analyze their decisions, or second-guess themselves.).
- Criticism doesn’t bother them.
- They hate routine and tend to be impulsive.
While I’m at it, I’ll add a few more anecdotal misconceptions that are not necessarily true of all introverts:
- “We prefer to stay home.” While I’m not particularly fond of crowded places or crashing a party, I get bored when I’ve spent too many weekends cooped up. Give me air! Give me people! Give me gossip!
- “We are the best listeners.” This may be true of most introverts, but not this one. Sorry, but I may just tune out a little if I don’t find our conversation intriguing, and give you a few “mmmhmm, go on” while secretly fantasizing about marrying Jason Statham.).
- We’re all tortured artists who spend time lost in thought, devising abstract poems and paintings. (Well in my case, yes):
Like the moon I hide in darkness,
A secret, silent hurt.
I am the lantern in a storm,
For I am an introvert.