Introverts are Not Broken

A sweet college student I’ve known for a long time asked me to be a reference for a job she had applied for next summer. I had no qualms about doing so: she’s top notch. Any business or ministry would be blessed by her presence.

So, anyway, this post isn’t really about her. It’s about the form the ministry sent for me to fill out. It was an online thing, streamlined and user friendly.

Most of it was “Rate this person on a scale of 1-5 on these qualities” type thing. No problem.

Then I got to a section where you’re supposed to check off other qualities that describe this person. There were about 20 options and you could choose as many as applied.

The problem: some of these were obviously considered “good” and others were not.

Introvert, reserved, and quiet were all on the “not” list.

Which, can I just ask, Why is this still happening in 2018?!

Now, never fear, for the purposes of this reference I had no trouble identifying my young friend as an extrovert along with some of those more stereotypical extrovert features (“outgoing” “friendly”). So, I didn’t ruin her reference by my philosophical differences with this organization. But, because this is my blog and this is my life I’m going to shout it here:

introverts are not broken extrovertsIntroverts are NOT Broken Extroverts

A fundamental misunderstanding of Introvert vs. Extrovert may be at fault. Those two qualities do not, in themselves, identify whether someone likes people or not. Or whether someone is friendly or not.
alone time

Instead, these are questions of how you get energy and / or how your energy is drained.

Extrovert: energized by people / loud / activity
Introvert: energized by alone / quiet / rest

This paradigm:

Bad = Introvert
Good = Extrovert

Is false.

Introverts are not just faulty extroverts who, if they just tried harder, could learn to be more extroverted.

Here’s the thing: I’m an Introvert (duh).

But I still love people. I love some more than others. (again, duh)

But even the ones I love most still drain my energy.

Sometimes I need to retreat to a quiet place and eat chocolate. Occasionally I need quiet. A nap is nice. I tend to prefer deep conversations with smaller groups. (“Tend”, because I do also love a good conference with thousands of people around.)

I do occasionally have to say no to one activity with people so I can say yes to another activity with other people.

Surprise: I have learned, over the years, to be friendlier. I can carry on a conversation with most people given half a chance. And I love getting together with my extended family. I’ve even grown in the “making friends” skill in my adult years.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not an Introvert.

No amount of “trying” will change the fact that I need to recharge after spending time with others.

And Introverts are NOT broken Extroverts.

We’re not necessarily misanthropic. We don’t all stare at our shoes constantly. Most of us haven’t retreated into the woods to live like Thoreau at Walden Pond (at least, not permanently).

It just so happens that people drain our energy. And frankly, assumptions like this reference form do too.

(P.S. Hey, Extroverts Running the World: would you do us all a favor and read Quiet by Susan Cain? Thank you so much. Signed: Introverts)

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