Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Dispelling Four Common Myths of Introversion
I never considered myself a good actor. But since I began my Beyond Introversion blog in July and announced my book on related subjects, 9 out of 10 of my closest friends and co-workers have said the same thing - "I never pegged you as an introvert. I always found you to be very social, outgoing, and a great team leader."
Yet throughout my journey over the last several years, I've become convinced of my introverted personality and more aware of the struggles I endured over the years to either hide my introversion or cave to the pressure to perform by wearing a mask of extroversion, a bit of a "fake it 'til you make it" approach with serious repercussions.
I've reconciled those diametrically opposed views as a lack of appreciation and knowledge of introversion itself. Many myths are just plain wrong:
People tend to believe that introverts are socially awkward in every way. They can't hold fluid conversations and don't like to be out with people. I can understand this perspective. I've thought this about myself for decades. But actually I now know it is not true. For me, I can be quite social in the right situations, especially smaller groups of people I know and have something in common.
People believe introverts can't be strong team leaders. Again, I questioned my leadership often. But introverts actually often make excellent leaders. They plan, prepare, think creatively, empathize with staff, customers, and others, don't rush to judgment, and are resilient in the face of pressure and crises.
Because introverts do tend to be quieter, many don't believe introverts work well under pressure. But actually, when I was under pressure - when I felt I needed to socialize or have a difficult discussion with staff, or make a difficult business decision - I pushed myself WAY out of my comfort zone to deliver.
Some may suspect introverts are not prepared to sacrifice. After all, we appear to stay inside and shrink from social situations. But I know I'm not alone when I say I nearly sacrificed everything to be a team leader and to deliver on my manager's expectations, not to mention my own lofty goals, regardless of the risks, oftentimes to the detriment of my own health and family time.
"...we all have our own personal demons..."
I'm also discovering the stigma of introversion when I share the topic of my blog or upcoming book (In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Struggle with Addictive Behaviors) with family, friends, and co-workers. Perhaps they are introverts themselves and "shy" away from the conversation or maybe they are expecting that the myths of introversion above will make for a sad and short conversation. I admit I catch myself slipping into my old mindset of low self-esteem during some of these conversations. However, if I push through my own aversions and explain the strengths and resiliency of introverts, others become engaged. And when I suggest we all have our own personal demons and roadblocks that we may spend our lifetime trying to figure out, I suddenly see head nods and interesting conversation ensues.
Introvert's Call to Action:
Take off our masks, shrug off the stigmas, take confidence in our strengths, and
STAND TALL AND PROUD!
Finally, in the spirit of Halloween, here are my favorite past Halloween "masks":
Top L-R: Friend Ricky and I celebrating winning UofA costume contest as a pair of sperm with my sister, Renee, alongside; 'Bama elephant; Cow costume with daughter Madolyn pulling my udders.
Bottom L-R: Pumpkin Head; Family costumes including my Backward Man; reenactment of my post-bike accident ailments.
NEXT WEEK: SURVEY SAYS...