Introversion. It’s literally defined in the dictionary as being “slow, reticent and self-centered.” It’s also a known fact that there are far fewer “introverts” than “extroverts.” Because of this, many people, myself included, grew up thinking there is something wrong with us. After studying for mid-terms, the last thing I ever wanted to do was go out to a bar, or party like it’s the end of the world. Everyone around me thought that was weird, because I’d rather stay in a read a book or watch another episode of Lost.
But I’m not here to write about the woes and injustices of an Introvert. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. After becoming fascinated-nay! OBSESSED with personality types, Carl Jung & Myers Briggs for the past few years, I wanted to write on two BIG Myths about Introverts.
The first misconception is that there is actually no such thing as an Introvert. ..or an Extrovert. When Carl Jung first developed his Psychological Types, he used the words “Extroversion” and “Introversion” to describe an individual’s temperaments…not to label people as Introvert or Extrovert. In fact, each of the 16 Personality Types used in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) include four functions…two of those functions are introverted, and two are extroverted.
A Video on The Introvert Myth:
Ok, to prevent loosing you in all the jargon, here’s the gist: EVERYONE (yes, you included!) has introverted and extroverted tendencies. None of us are black and white. You know that! We simply have a dominate inclination towards one side or the other (Introversion or Extroversion). Just because you’re right-handed doesn’t mean you can’t use your left hand, right? Which hand you write with doesn’t define who you are, does it?
And that’s the point I want to make. The moment you begin labeling yourself as an Introvert or an Extrovert, you go down a very dangerous road of stereotypes, and assumptions. I am an introvert. (Or rather, my first letter in the MBTI is “I”) Does that make it “ok” or “acceptable” to never leave the house or talk to no one? Absolutely not. Does it give me an excuse to be a victim, and say the rest of the “Extroverted World” has persecuted me in some way? NO.
And this brings me to my second MYTH: That there is something wrong with INTROVERTED individuals. In college, I took the MBTI test for the first time. The professor asked the class to raise their hand if they came out with an “E” for Extrovert. I was so embarrassed to admit that I was an “I” that I raised my hand with all the Extroverts. I think the other Introverted students did the same…
Myers-Briggs was the FIRST tool that showed me that my Introversion is actually my biggest strength. I’ve discovered that my strengths are found in areas that most others actually struggle with. I have an ability to work longer, focus deeper, learn more extensively, and teach more exhaustively. I listen and observe. I don’t give up or get bored easily. And if you’re an “introvert,” you may be realizing you have these similar qualities and habits. THESE. ARE. YOUR. STRENGTHS.
We have influential introverts all around us. Look at someone like Tim Ferris, New York Times Best-Selling Author with three books on three completely different topics that have more depth and detail than just about any book I’ve ever read. Who else other than an introvert would spend 10 years conducting thousands of experiments on himself just to learn more about how to effectively hack the human body?
And believe it or not, many individuals I see who have become successful making videos on YouTube are ALSO Introverts. They were willing to take the time to learn how to make videos, edit them and effectively leverage YouTube’s platform. Speaking for myself, I am always looking at very extroverted and animated speakers, actors and comedians so I can study and model their behavior. So, when I say, “Im not an extrovert, I just play one on TV,” it’s pretty accurate!
I believe we’ve all been dealt a set of strengths. In fact, I feel most people think their strength is actually their weakness! I know I did for the longest time. It’s your job to align your strengths with complimentary work. It may take some time, but it always starts by learning more about yourself. By observing your habits, emotions and energy levels, you immediately learn to focus on what’s working, and what’s not!
So, if you read this and you know your dominate inclination is toward “Introversion,” here’s my advice: don’t play a victim! Don’t think for half a second that there is anything wrong with you, or that society has persecuted you in same way. Take PRIDE in these secret powers you possess, and let them flourish. Give up trying to be someone else, just be you!
To learn more about Myers Briggs, check out the MBTI test below and see what your type is: