Alright, so this might actually be my favorite misconception of all. A lot of people out there think that being an introvert is a bad thing. They think that introverts need to be cured… AKA be more extroverted. I suppose that’s what happens when you live in an extroverted world because people tend to think that their way is the best way.
Being introverted is not a disease people! I haven’t come across an introvert who didn’t like being introverted. When I was younger I thought that being extroverted was the only way to be successful because that was what was embedded in my brain. I was always being told things like:
- “Stop being shy!”
- “You need to be more outgoing.”
- “Speak up more!”
- “You need to get out more.”
Honestly, to someone not hearing these things constantly, it probably seems pretty harmless, right? I grew up hearing these statements (and more) and have gone through my entire life hearing them. Most of the time, the comments come from a place of well-meaning. Our friends and family think that by doing going out more or speaking up more, we will lead a happy and fulfilling life. They mean well. But, I think I speak for every introvert out there when I say to please stop telling us these things. We aren’t extroverts and that’s OKAY! More than okay really.
Why do people think that introverts need to be cured?
I think there are a few reasons for this.
- Being extroverted is a social norm with over half of the population being extroverts.
- People think that “success” and being outgoing, loud, aggressive, etc. go hand in hand.
- If something works for someone else, it has to work for everybody, right?
- Extroverts have also gone through life hearing people telling introverts to be more outgoing, loud, etc.
“You know, you’d probably be able to get that promotion if you were just a little more outgoing. It just seems like you don’t have a whole lot going for you in meetings because you’re so quiet. Just speak up a little more and maybe you’ll get noticed.” Well, guess what, Susan? (It’s always a Susan in my mind…not sure why LOL) If I want that promotion I’m still going to get it because I’m a badass! I don’t need to change who I am to do it because my work speaks for itself, Susan. I’m fine the way I am.
Let’s destroy the misconception!
You don’t have to be an extrovert to be successful.
First of all, I think it’s important to point out that success means different things to different people. There isn’t one universal thing out there that means someone is successful. Susan up there thinks that getting promotions means your successful. But what if getting that promotion means you’ll hate your job, have no work-life balance, or be so stressed out that your health takes a turn for the worse? Sure, you’ll probably make more money which is all fine and good, but being miserable doesn’t mean being successful in my book. Maybe it doesn’t do those things to Susan, so for her, that means success. Maybe growing a family or finally writing that book would make you feel successful. It’s different for everyone and your idea of success probably isn’t the same as someone else’s. And that’s okay.
Secondly, being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re incapable of speaking up more or being louder. We’re capable of all of those things if and when we really want to be. For the most part, at least speaking for myself, I choose not to. It takes more out of introverts to do these things and it’s not always enjoyable. I promise you that introverts have other skills that make them stand out.
Finally, if you’ll remember in my post about how introverts are awesome, I mentioned several famous introverts. Are you honestly telling me that J.K. Rowling, William Shakespeare, Barack Obama, and Albert Einstein weren’t successful? What rock have you been hiding under? We all have skills that give us the ability to find success in whatever path we choose. Success isn’t exclusive to extroverts.
Most people are extroverts.
I think that this is a big reason that many people think that introverts need to be cured. Being extroverted is essentially the social norm and introverts are seen as the weirdos in the corner of the room. Sometimes it feels like we’re all in high school again. The extroverts are the popular kids and the introverts are the loners who nobody talks to unless they need something.
But just because something is popular, doesn’t make it the right thing for everyone. Just because “everyone” is doing it, doesn’t mean that you should. It used to be popular opinion that women shouldn’t vote or essentially have a voice of their own. They were essentially their husband’s or father’s property. Did that mean it was right? Of course not. Okay, so that might be an extreme example, but the point is the same.
Besides, we enjoy being introverted.
Extroverts have also gone through life hearing that introverts should be more extroverted.
Hearing that you should be more outgoing, less quiet, less shy, etc. for your entire life will have an impact. For a long time, I felt like it wasn’t okay to be an introvert because people were constantly telling me to be more extroverted. I would try to go out more, speak up more, etc. but it never felt right. I was always left feeling exhausted and upset with myself. Why couldn’t I be like everyone else? What was wrong with me?
Then I finally realized one day that nothing was wrong with me. By the time I was 25 I was making more money than a lot of people twice my age with those hefty college degrees. I had paid off all of my debt and received multiple promotions at work. At the time, to me, that meant success (and in a way it still somewhat does). The best thing about all of that though is that I didn’t have to change who I was. I was still very much an introvert. I proved all of the Susans in my life wrong because my hard work spoke for itself.
As you’ve probably noticed, I am always saying that when our extroverted friends make these comments to us, they’re probably coming from a place of well-meaning. They’ve grown up just like we have, hearing the same things and thinking that introverts need to be cured. They are extroverted so it makes sense to them that that is the right way to be. They’ve had successes, happiness, friends, etc. and they think that their extroversion is the key to success.
Let’s ditch the misconception that introverts need to be cured.
The point of all of this is that it doesn’t matter if you’re extroverted or introverted. You don’t need to be cured. There is no one right way. I think as a whole we need to stop allowing these misconceptions affect us. Extroverts should stop telling introverts to be different and more extroverted. Introverts should stop believing these things to be true. It stifles your potential and does more harm than good. We all have unique gifts to share regardless of our personality type.
When we were children we probably all had at least one person tell us that we could be anything that we wanted to be and do anything we wanted to do. And it’s 100% true. But this statement shouldn’t be followed up with, “If you become a little more outgoing.” Instead, let’s support each other. If you’re one of the well-meaning Susans out there, try telling your introverted coworker that you love how well they genuinely connect with people instead of the usual. Same thing goes for the introverts and their extroverted friends. So, let’s ditch this misconception that introverts need to be cured. Neither introverts nor extroverts need a cure LOL.
Embrace who you are and you really can do or be anything you want.