One of the most popular personality distinctions is the attribution of being either an introvert or an extrovert. The appeal of personality categorizations is the sense of belonging and relatability that can be derived from knowing other people in the world perceive things the way you do. Whether it be through Buzzfeed quizzes about what Disney princess you’d most likely be, or checking your Co-Star app to see what your zodiac sign is in for this month, personality ‘markers’ will always be sought after because people want to read more about themselves.
The 16 Personalities test is an in-depth personality test that breaks down each aspect of your ‘type’. After completing my test, my result was ISFP, which is in the Adventurer category and is abbreviated for Introverted, obServant, Feeling and Prospected. My initial reaction was how contradictory this categorization was – how could I be an introvert and an adventurer at the same time? After long self-reflection (my favourite but most tiring pastime), I realized the traditional understanding of introversion was misunderstood. Here are a couple of misconceptions about being an introvert:
Introverts hate being around people
It’s not that introverts dislike being around other people, it’s that we like spending time with ourselves more than our counterparts. The misconception that introverts don’t like spending time with people or reject the idea of social interaction is false. We usually value quality over quantity in relationships, which might explain why your introverted friends aren’t jumping at every opportunity to go to some house party (pre-COVID times, of course).
Introverts don’t know how to navigate social situations
The cornerstone stereotype of introversion is their perceived inability to successfully navigate social situations. They are seen as shy, socially awkward and a drag to bring around new people. As popular author, Sophia Dembling articulates, “The best distinction I’ve heard comes from a neuroscientist who studies shyness. He said, ‘Shyness is a behavior: It’s being fearful in a social situation. Whereas introversion is a motivation. It’s how much you want and need to be in those interactions.” (Donovan, 2015). Introverts are able to navigate social situations and hold an engaging conversation, but the harsh truth is that their priorities lie elsewhere. Because they value their time and energy differently from extroverts, this can be perceived in a more negative light than its reality.
Introverts want to be extroverts
Since introversion is seen as the inability to thrive in social situations, many people believe that introverts want to be extroverts instead, or that their life is less fruitful than that of their counterparts. Because introversion is understood as ‘lacking’ the qualities that extroverts have, many people believe that those who are more to themselves wish they were different, which is not the case. The variance between introversion and extroversion is the differing priorities, where each category finds fulfillment in seemingly opposite ways.
Introverts can be outgoing and loud, and extroverts can have moments of solitude and quiet. All in all, such personality categorizations are loose attributions of who you are and aren’t binding definitions you have to live by for the rest of your life.
Donovan, Laura. An Introvert’s Brain vs. An Extrovert’s Brain. 23 Dec. 2015.