Carl Jung is renowned for his theory on extroversion-introversion, a distinction made according to where people prefer to draw their energy from: external sources or their inner world. Based on this theory, the MBTI questionnaire, for example, includes eight personality types (e.g. ISFJ or INFJ) along the introversion range. Since, though, our societies’ standards praise extroversion as strength, introversion must be a weakness. Extroverts are rarely –if ever– judged for being outgoing; on the contrary. Yet when people identify and introduce themselves as introverts, they’re almost always labeled as ‘shy’ or ‘antisocial’ and ‘snobs’. Setting any psychological health reasons behind introversion aside (reasons that may as well exist in extroverts’ cases too), the prejudice and tendency to demonize introversion is always present; and it goes, of course, without saying that idealizing any of those forms of expression should not be the goal either.
So, here’s decoding some of the most common misconceptions about introverted people:
Enjoying their alone time doesn’t automatically make them antisocial.
In contrast to extroverted people, who charge their ‘batteries’ through socializing, introverts’ ‘battery’ gets depleted after prolonged social interaction. That’s why they may also prefer written forms of communication (e-mails, etc.) and have better results when they study or work on their own.
They are not necessarily shy nor lack verbal skills.
They perform better while processing information at their own pace. And their valuing preference of the written means of expression, more doesn’t mean they cannot be good interlocutors—in fact, quite the opposite. An introvert is often considered a better interlocutor, as she/he has learned to be just as good a listener.
They do not despise having new/many acquaintances.
They prefer conversations in smaller groups as they have learned –perhaps the hard way– that meaningful connection between people is a matter of quality and not quantity. Being often victims of bullying, they appreciate those who not only don’t dislike them due to their introverted nature, but embrace them precisely because of it.
Traditionally and from early on, school education stresses group activities, speaking up during classes etc.–that is, practices that by definition aim at inclusivity. Yet, it is proven that many (introverted) people have linked such situations with immense psychological pressure, ultimately feeling anything but included when the ‘extroverted student’-model is treated as the ‘correct’ one.
Nevertheless, global awareness on social exclusion issues has slowly started to include introverts’ marginalization as well (see e.g. relevant TEDx talks, etc.). Any categorizations, of course, should be made only if they aim to support each person’s individual voice. Everyone, whether introvert or extrovert, should be allowed to express and cultivate these personality traits of theirs and not be marginalized because of them.
Being an introvert is not simply ok; it is a right.