We human beings are the only species on this planet that has the superpower of speech. Of words and conversations. We were made to talk, and yet, there is this group of people who call themselves introverts and abstain from talking (too) much.
How very odd!
Ive never been and I dislike using this word for its popular connotation social. As an introvert, I hate small talk; I always have. But I frequently have long, meandering conversations with the few people I hold dear in my life. I dislike talking without a perceived need for it (read: gossip, tea-time huddles, party high-fives, pointless inside jokes).
This means Im often found staring at my phone, book, or computer screen while several others are guffawing. While Im perfectly content to be doing my present activity, I still become an aberration. I become someone who is perpetually reminded, Youre so quiet.
This brings me to the assumptions, the little nuggets about myself that people feel compelled to share with me from time to time. They used to make me feel mad raving mad both for the ludicrousness of this unsolicited advice and the fact that some people found nothing wrong with passing personal comments on to someone they didnt even know well.
With time, Ive learned to handle this verbal onslaught better. Now, I usually just dismiss it with a look of amusement, irritation, or absolute lack of interest.
I have the feeling that you, too, as an introvert, have encountered some of these unsolicited comments. Here are seven things people assume about me because Im quiet.
Assumptions About Quiet Introverts
1. Youre so shy!
Of course, the only reason some people avoid small talk is shyness. But then there are the introverts, the people who by definitionprefer a quiet, low-stimulus environment one that doesnt involve more small talk than is essential.
Turns out, shyness and introversion are not the same thing. While shy people avoid small talk because of an innate fear that theyll be judged negatively, introverts abstain from it because they find it draining. While the two may overlap occasionally, every human being who prefers to keep to himself or herself is not suffering from debilitating shyness.
2. I never thought youd be able to deliver a presentation so well.
Ah, always the tone of surprise when my legs dont shake and my voice doesnt quiver while speaking to a large audience. Ive never been scared of public speaking, thanks in part to my mum who was exceptionally fond of encouraging me to take part in school debate clubs.
What I dislike is making small talk or gossiping with acquaintances I know only from sharing the building elevator. But unfortunately, many people still think that being introverted and stuttering through presentations go hand-in-hand.
Again, not so. In fact, many introverts make excellent public speakers because they have the gift of listening to others (more than talking to them). This comes in handy when tailoring their speech to the needs of their audience.
3. You dont have to act so stuck-up.
Yep, thats me. The one who doesnt talk to human beings because they dont deserve to be talked to. Not joining the office breakfast group because I had breakfast at home is pure, unadulterated pride. So is refusing to go for drinks with my husbands friends wives (whom I know perfectly well from that annual New Year party).
Not talking much is the ultimate damnation: In the eyes of others, it makes you rude, stuck-up, arrogant, and inexcusably proud.
4. Have you tried calling the anti-depression helpline?
That is what I supposedly do or attempt to do every sad weekend that I spend at home, alone with my thoughts. I prefer reading to clubbing and sitting in my cushion-fort to shopping what is this, if not a sign of depression?
It agonizes me how often introversion gets mistaken for depression. Staying home, lost in a book, has got to be devastatingly sad when all your friends are hanging out, right?
Many introverts love hanging out just as much as the next person; they just do it in a different way. They prefer spending time with a small group of friends or just one other person, and theyd rather talk about something meaningful than make small talk just to pass the time.
5. You must lead a boring life. Heres a book recommendation: How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Oh, Ive read that 40,566 times; how else did I win you, my thoughtful advisor and well-wisher? But I guess Im destined to live my boring life of quiet, drinking my coffee by the window at home, having a feline best friend, and never joining the cool kids for flash mobs. Obviously, all introverts are bored to the core but havent the nerve to make a change.
This one, somehow, still agitates me each time I hear it. Which is when I wish I could explain the pastime I find the most dreadfully boring: listening to their droning!
6. Youll get stuck in a professional rut. You need to network.
I often come across this strange notion: Introverts cant be leaders on the job. Introverts stay muted even when they need to make constructive, strategic decisions. Theyre also terrible at choosing a line of work aligned with their personality and skills.
Call me old-school, but wining and dining clients every evening is not the only way to climb the corporate ladder. And even in scenarios where it is, career-minded introverts grit their teeth, get on with it, then take some downtime to recharge.
7. Im so tired of people parading about as introverts when theyre just not good at talking! Oh, I dont mean you
But you should. Introverts, exactly as you think, like to keep to themselves because they cannot construct meaningful sentences and follow the niceties required during socializing. The whole idea scares them to no end.
All introverts are not surprise, surprise socially awkward. Many of them avoid socializing because it drains them, not because theyre afraid or anxious. Introverts just arent wired to keep up surface-level conversations unceasingly. They need to recharge after socializing, and thats as natural and normal as being tired after a busy day at work or running a marathon.
You might like:
- Introverts Dont Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing
- Why Introverts Absolutely Loathe Small Talk
- Why Are Words So Hard for Introverts? Heres the Science
- 15 Signs That Youre an Introvert With High-Functioning Anxiety
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