Introversion does not Equate to Antisocial, and Other Misconceptions

I was out with my mom shopping one day and we pulled up in a strip to go to Ross. Low and behold, I see my favorite place to be, where the words float around, ambushing me as I walk through the door, you guessed it, or maybe not, Barnes & Noble. This bookstore is my number one place to be (Half-Priced Books a very close second). To walk in and see all of the words written by so many authors, in between covers, pages and pages of thoughts, feelings, photos, memories, ideas and so much more. So I left my mom to Ross and I let the enticing Barnes & Noble sweep me away. A little dramatic? Maybe, however, y’all don’t know my love for books.

I always browse each and every B&N I go to because none are ever built or created the same. I always find my self in 1 of 3 sections: self help, health and mystery/thrillers. This day in particular, a book caught my eye. It could’ve been the fact that it was bright red with large red letters, or the turtle, or the fact that the title is Introvert Power (Laurie Helgoe, PhD). Yeah, that was more likely the reason.

I am an introvert and damn proud to be one, though most of my life I was shamed for it and told that I need to make friends, go out more, be happy, put on a smile, interact with others, etc. That is not something you tell an introvert because 1). it made me feel like I was different and there was something wrong with me, 2). the above mentioned things are things that I do not understand why anyone would force themselves into those situations or the reason that they are necessary, and lastly 3). why try to change someone who is perfectly fine with who they are? Beats the fuck out of me.

Moving on.

So far, what I have read in the book has made have a sigh of relief, a breath that I did not know I was even holding (imagine 28 years of not breathing, how the hell am I still alive?). As I began reading, I did what I do best, I took a highlighter to the pages of words that confirmed that I was not crazy and that there was nothing wrong with me, that I am normal (whatever normal means to you). I have not finished reading the book, and there will be more posts on this topic as I work my way through the pages that have shone its great power.

I wanted to share some of the things that people may not know. For starters, being an introvert does not, in fact, mean that someone is antisocial.

antisocial adj.

unwilling or unable to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people.

antagonistic, hostile, or unfriendly towards others; menacing; threatening

In all, antisocial is in relation to being a sociopath, a condition in which a person lacks a social conscience.

sociopath n.

a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

So many introverts are not antisocial.

Another misconception that many extraverts (that is the correct spelling for you spelling police) is that introverts are stuck up, snobs and think that we are better than everyone else. I am here to tell you that that can’t be anything further from the truth. Let me tell you a story.

When I was in junior high, the church I went to (before I woke up and found out the truth about religion) had many girls my age who did not get along. They were catty and just flat out mean to me and my former friends. Now, as an introvert, I stayed to myself, and in turn this lead the other girls to believe I was stuck up. One day, the pastor’s wife had us to stand in a circle and one person would be in the middle. Each girl would say their perception of this person and tell them why.

Of course, I had to go first and everyone pretty much sad the same thing: that they thought I was stuck up because I never said anything to anyone and the way that I dressed (I laughed at that because I did not know that the way I dressed had anything to do with my character or personality, but hey, it was their perception). They learned that by judging me because I chose not to share my personal business and life with them, they immediately ruled me as stuck up with resting bitch face (my face is just like that because I am always in deep thought). That is another misconception I will get to later.

As an introvert, when you don’t socialize with others, they make up their own assumptions of you since they have nothing to go off of; no background knowledge, nothing about your life, they don’t know anything about you except your name. That tends to make people uneasy when they can’t figure you out. Well, to those of you trying to figure out an introvert, don’t. Let us be. It is not your business to know everyone else’s business.

The next misconception is that we are loners, depressed, have no friends and worship the devil (just kidding about the last part, though some people do, no judgement). We are not loners and we do have friends, though we have a limited number of friends and we can only experience people 1 or 2 at a time, anything more sends our minds into overdrive, draining the energy out of us.

“…an extrovert is more like a hotel – able to accommodate a large number of interactions that come and go…Extroverts are often able to accommodate more people as well, but because extroverts wrap up interactions in the interaction, even a close friend may check in and check out as needed. An introvert may have the same square footage, but each meaningful interaction is reserved on its own luxury suite, awaiting a follow-up interaction. Bookings are more limited (Helgoe).”

Introverts process interactions and connections with people differently than extroverts. We process interactions with others when we are away from them. We go to our safe space, think about the conversation and the meaning behind it, waiting until the next time to maybe clarify the meaning and then maybe go deeper. We overanalyze a lot, whereas extroverts can have a conversation and then it be done. We internalize a lot of interactions and conversations we have with people because they are meaningful.

Shyness is often a label that introverts get and it is not that we are shy. We are more observant and try to assess situations and people before we decide to participate.

“Shyness actually has more to do with extraversion than introversion.” – Bernardo J. Carducci.

I have often been asked or labeled as shy, and I took it with great stride, however, now that I know what shyness is, I do not use that word to describe me anymore.

Let’s now move on to depression and how we handle problems.

“Introverts internalize problems; we like to take things inside and work on them there. Extroverts prefer to externalize and deal with problems interactively. Because of those differences, introverts may seem psychologically burdened, while extroverts spread the burden around and seem healthier – from an extraverted standpoint (Helgo).”

She makes a good point. Instead of placing my problems on others, it is easier to internalize them because they are my problems, no on else’s. This often times, back to resting bitch face, leads people to believe that I am sad, mad, angry, depressed, etc. because my face is set in such a way. It has been brought to my attention many times, but I still seem to do it unknowingly because when I am in deep thought, I don’t notice anything or anyone, like I have tunnel vision.

“The former gets depressed or anxious and goes to therapy; the latter sends others to therapy (Helgoe).”

Introverts lose energy being around others, especially if it is around others who are toxic and have negative energy. We recharge in our space of solitude (for me that includes my apartment, my local arboretum, and a book store). Yes, sometimes we can charge by being around other people, just not interacting with them.

In college and for some time after, I would go to clubs and parties with friends. Anxiety would come on as soon as someone would ask me to go and I never said no because I felt obligated and I didn’t want my friends to think of me any differently. Maybe 30 minutes in, I would be ready to go. I would force myself to stay the entire time (mainly because I didn’t have a car), and would regret it when I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been hit by a car.

Being in a room full of people and different energies swirling around like cosmic lights in the atmosphere, drains the life out of you. Now, at 28, I say no to damn near everything. Just the thought of going to some of the things I get invited to makes me anxious and cringe.

In social settings, I am always quiet (you know the saying, “it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for”), looking at my phone, half listening to the conversation, watching others in the establishment, and observing body language. You can tell a lot about a person by body language and listening to how they speak and what they speak about. This leads people to believe you are shy, a loner, awkward, etc. Hey, not everyone wants to be the center of attention. That is one thing about me, I will never try to steal anyone’s spotlight.

Extroverts have to realize that not everyone is going to be vivacious, flamboyant, and in your face. I am a very laid back person who would rather read a book, write a book, blog, make YT videos, cook and watch Netflix than to be out socializing over drinks (that I don’t drink).

Introverts are also said to have low self-esteem and to some extent, depending on the person, that is true (I have always had low self-esteem, even being more developed than my peers). People always pointed out the fact that I was somewhat different than others because I had high grades in ELAR, I always had a book and had one boyfriend in high school. I was not popular, did not want to be, but yet everyone knew who I was (oh the anxiety and horror).

I am going to end this post here with the below photo. I will be back with more on being an introvert, more on a personal level.

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