I really hate parties. After a while I just want to go home, close the blinds and watch a box set on Netflix.
I'm what you might call an introvert. It took a while to admit this fact. For most of my adolescent life I fought against it, trying desperately to "come out of my shell." Being introverted was something to be overcome, a weakness that could be remedied if I followed this author's "7 easy steps" or that writer's "5 handy tips."
In truth, being introverted is something you don't need to explain or cure. It's part of who you are, and it has some pretty great benefits.
I'm not going to lie to you though. Sometimes you'll have to grin and bear it when people label you unfairly for being an introvert. Here are just four of the ways you'll be misunderstood.
1. Being Labelled as Boring
If you're like me, you prefer intelligent conversations about lots of different things. You like talking to one person, maybe two, but not to the whole room and never at a level where everybody can hear. You might also have a special loathing for small talk.
In some people's eyes, this will make you boring. You will be judged for not wanting to seek the limelight all the time, and for not broadcasting yourself at a volume that can shatter glass and pierce ear drums.
2. Being Labelled a Snob and/or Arrogant
At some point, your quietness will be confused for being aloof and stand-offish. People will think that you're judging them, but in my experience this is just a phase where you're getting to know strangers and becoming comfortable with their mannerisms. Like any card-carrying introvert, once you know a person well the conversation begins to flow freely.
3. Being Labelled as Less Confident
We've all been in a meeting where someone drones on and on. And we've all bitten our lip while we pray for it to finish. If only we had the confidence to interrupt and break it off, right?
Too often, being introverted is seen as a proxy for lacking confidence or being timid. Conventional wisdom tells us that, to be confident, you need to be domineering and to enforce your will on those around you.
The reality is that some of the world's greatest leaders are introverts. Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama and Warren Buffett have all admitted as much. Susan Cain, demigod to introverts everywhere, affirmed that introverted leaders "often deliver better outcomes than extroverted leaders do." One fascinating study found that introverted managers were rated more highly by staff than their extroverted counterparts after 10 weeks, despite being rated lower initially.
4. Being Labelled as Miserable
If I had a pound for every time I was told to "cheer up!" I'd have built a castle far away and filled it with books so I never had to interact with humans again.
Joking aside though, introverts are often unfairly labelled as sad or miserable. Whilst we may tend to be more sensitive generally, it doesn't mean that we can't appreciate the pleasure of good company or social situations. Sometimes life can be just as enjoyable from the back seat as it is from the front.
When it comes down to it though, the world isn't black and white. We all have a bit of extraversion and introversion in us, and each bring unique benefits to the table. We should all be celebrated, as long as I don't have to give the toast.