Why is Being an Introvert Seen as a Bad Thing?

awkward conversation

A few weeks ago, my co-workers and I all took part in one of those Myers-Briggs personality tests. A website we work on had just launched a version of the test to help students find the right careers for their personality, and we thought it would be fun to see what results everyone got. For those who aren’t familiar, this test reveals your 4-letter personality type, with letters like “E” standing for “extrovert” and S for “sensing”.

When the results came around, I noticed that out of my 10 coworkers who took the test, I was only 1 of the 2 who ranked as an “introvert”. Everyone was reading their personality type descriptions, focusing on the characteristics that are representative of an extrovert, like being a strong leader, being a “people person”, etc. Although no one in any way, shape or form meant to look down on those of us who identified as an introvert, it sort of felt that way.

I don’t actually consider myself an extrovert OR an introvert. I’m one of those annoying people who thinks I’m a bit of both, depending on the situations. I’m an introvert in the sense that I like having time to myself- to read, watch TV or go shopping.I can be very independent. But I also enjoy meeting new people, going to concerts and dinners and opening up to strangers (like on this blog), which are all qualities of a typical extrovert.

You always see articles about how extroverts and Type-As make great leaders and employees, which sort of makes introverts seem inferior. Just because someone isn’t loud or bossy doesn’t mean they aren’t a hard worker or a valued employee. Just because someone is quiet in a social situation doesn’t make them a bitch. Just because someone turns down a night out doesn’t mean they hate you- they just want some alone time and that’s perfectly normal!

Some people are introverts in situations (such as social situations) based on something serious, like anxiety or depression. I’ve experienced this first-hand and can tell you that many of my introvert qualities stem from that. Does this make me a bad person? No. Does it make me any less of a human being? No. Does this make me a loser who sits at home by herself and cries? No. In fact, I never do that- I have a great, happy life. I simply just exhibit a few introvert qualities that can cause others to judge me.

I’d like to think that I’m living proof that someone who is classified as an introvert- by a silly personality test or someone who is bit too judgmental- can actually be pretty awesome. I put myself out there online on this blog, I have always been a leader within my community (you’re looking at the Class President and Yearbook Editor of her high school) and I truly enjoy connecting with people who have similar interests to mine.

So what do you think- are you an introvert or extrovert? And do you think introverts get a bad rap like I do?Β 

P.S. I loved this Huffington Post articleΒ about common myths people have about introverts, and encourage everyone to read it. And for a laugh, this Buzzfeed article rings true as well.

*Image via Hyperbole and a Half. You guys need to buy her book, it’s hilarious.

37 Comments

  1. I’m an introvert and I think introverts are generally just misunderstood compared to extroverts. Both have good and bad sides to them. I’ll admit that originally I wasn’t happy about being an introvert because of the negative connotations associated with it, but after reading Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I’ve accepted it and I’ve accepted myself. Great book.

  2. I definitely don’t think that being an introvert is a bad thing. I absolutely agree that sometimes certain situations can being out being introverted, it happens to me all the time. This book looks great!

  3. I’m an introvert (ISFJ). Although being extroverted is often seen as being better, I think introverts have a lot more amazing qualities than they realize, ones that are just as important as those possessed by the extroverted. It also helps that a lot of very important people in history were introverts. If that doesn’t say something about the power of introverts, I don’t know what does!

  4. I’ve read that actually what determines whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert is how you prefer to relax. I’m an introvert because I find intimate conversations, spending time alone reading or crafting, etc. extremely relaxing. But, I’m good at talking to people, going to social events, and I’m in a management position at work- I just wouldn’t choose to relax by going to a concert or big party. It’s such a misconception that introverts can’t be leaders or be sociable.

  5. I’m an introvert by Meyers Briggs standards, but as I’ve gotten older I identify more as an extrovert in many situations. Since I can identify with both personality types, I know how irritating it is to get ragged on as an introvert. I feel like the negative stereotype of all introverts just being shy and quiet comes from a misunderstanding of what being introverted really means- directing your thoughts and feelings inward rather than outward.

  6. I’m definitely an introvert. I’m very quiet and can come off as withdrawn in social situations. I usually prefer to stay home, and I can count on one hand the number of people in my life who I’m TRULY comfortable around. I think that’s why I enjoy blogging so much – it allows me to be in extrovert in a way I could never be in real life.

    I feel like there has been a ton of talk lately about introversion, which is great because it sheds more awareness on it … but I also feel like it’s almost become “cool” to call yourself in introvert!

  7. I am definitely a total introvert. I’m very shy around people that I don’t know in social situations. But I’ve never thought of it as a bad thing…I’ve just always been introverted

  8. I used to be 100% extrovert, but now in my “older” years, I truly enjoy alone time more that being on the social scene. I have become laid back and not near as strong on the personality spectrum. All different types of personalities make the world go round…we need a little of everyone. πŸ™‚

  9. I’m a complete introvert and it is something I struggled with so much growing up but I’ve come to appreciate it and value myself a lot more for it! Susan Cain’s book Quiet was amazing and really addresses a lot of the negative stereotypes associated with being introverted!

  10. Count me in as one of those people who think I’m both. Although, now in my older age I think I’m more of an introvert. I would really just so much rather be at home and relaxing than out socializing all the time, haha! πŸ™‚

  11. I’m an introvert. I CAN go both ways but I say I’m an introvert because my natural tendency is to have my quiet time alone and if I had to pick one way forever that’s what I’d end up being. It helps that my husband is more of on extrovert because there is too much joy to be had in the world to spend my life in my house reading a book. He gives me that nudge to “get out there” and it’s a good thing.

  12. My mom is actually getting certified to distribute the Myers-Briggs tests! So obviously, I think they’re awesome πŸ™‚ I haven’t taken the test in years so I can’t remember what I got, but I’d bet money that introvert was one of the letters I ended up with.

  13. i got the introvert on that test as well at my last company which shall not be named. they made a big point to let everyone know that 95% of employees at that company are extroverts which is SO AWESOME! so you can imagine how i felt as an introvert!! brought me back to elementary school! if you’re more interested in this topic, you should read ‘quiet – the power of introverts’ by susan cain. i really learned a lot about myself reading it!

  14. I think I’m an introvert as well. I don’t think any of them is bad, I mean, we’re all different, aren’t we? πŸ˜‰ I love being around with people, but I like to have my own time as well. I’m mostly quiet in big groups as well, yet I can go crazy if I want to πŸ™‚ You do see me quiet most of the time, enjoying little things πŸ˜‰

  15. I am definitely an introvert. I always have been. I don’t think that it is a bad thing, but it definitely is looked at as a bad thing. I can step up when necessary, but I an naturally a shy person. This was a great post Rachel. I found this thing on pinterest one time that was about how you should treat introverts as opposed to extroverts… I pinned it because I know what kind of children I will have πŸ™‚ pinterest.com/pin/77405687315520860/

  16. I’ve taken the test before (and obviously blogged about it) and I am an extrovert, but I could have told anyone that without the test. Just because I may be a good leader doesn’t mean I’m always right, but most of the time I think I am, and I don’t often listen to other peoples’ ideas because I think mine are better. I would say that isn’t the best quality.

    I definitely think there are two sides to every coin, and both introverts and extroverts have their good and bad qualities.

  17. I feel like I’m a combination of both depending on the situation too. I almost feel like that means we are able to read the situation and act accordingly, which in my opinion is a good thing.

  18. I’m a total extrovert. A lot of my friends and introverts so it’s always interesting to see those roles play out in our relationship. I love my introverted friends who let me vent and speak after they think instead of being like me when I just am loud and say everything!

  19. I was in total denail about being an introvert – but I’ve come to embrace it! It’s all about how you recharge, and I definitely recharge at home with a glass of wine over recharging with a bunch of girlfriends. xx

  20. I took a grad class about various assessments in grad school and we spent some time studying the myers briggs. It was actually my favorite of the personality tests we did!

    But the whole point of saying “introvert” or “extrovert” is about where you get your energy, not if you like others. I think it’s garbage that people make being an extrovert sound so great. Sure we’re social beings, but we probably can’t spend too much time alone without feeling bored. As an independent person, knowing that about myself kinda bothers me! I’ve always felt like I needed to work towards being more of an introvert.

  21. I too identify with both, although these tests tend to tell me I’m an introvert. I can be quiet at times, but I’m far from shy. I like to think of it as observant. I loved reading your take on this. It’s really unfair that supposed-introverts get stereotyped. When I was younger, I always hated when people would turn to my friend, brother, etc. and ask: “Is she shy?” As if me choosing not to speak to them meant I was actually unable to do so. As a fellow introvert, I’m sure you can image the clever things I was thinking in my head. πŸ™‚ Great post!

  22. I would also say I’m a bit of both… I love having time to myself, and I also come out of my shell in social situations, which actually took me a while to do as when I was younger I was painfully shy. But you’re right, there’s nothing bad about it. Every one has different qualities. Wouldn’t the world be an awful place is every one was an extrovert lol

  23. I’m an introvert. That doesn’t mean that I don’t love my friends or being in social situations, it just means that I need some time to myself to regroup. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert! In fact, I like people like me πŸ™‚

  24. I think I am a type A personality but I am really shy and find myself thinking things would be better if I just stayed home and maybe read a good book. Is that bad? I don’t think so! πŸ™‚ You seem like an awesome person, just keep doing you! πŸ™‚

  25. i am definitely an extrovert, to a fault, sometimes. but i still get nervous or awkward in social situations, and i still love good ol’ me time. i know a lot of very successful introverts, so i agree with you!

  26. I’m an introvert, no question about it. I feel like a lot of people think I’m rude because I don’t say anything but I’m not trying to be. When I meet someone new, I usually just listen a lot the first time we hangout and just answer when people ask questions.

  27. On the Myers-Briggs test I always fall right in the grey area of E vs. I… I have always identified as an extrovert (serious type-A here), but when it comes down to it, I’m very much inside myself most of the time… so I like to think that I can enjoy the benefits of both & I of course think that each has their strengths πŸ™‚

  28. I wrote out a long comment and posted it, but I have no idea where it went. Anyways, in quick summary, I am also an introvert and since I learned that a couple of years ago it has helped my anxiety and expectations for myself greatly. People definitely think I’m snobby though, which is frustrating.

    I love your confidence in your personality! And I completely agree that introverts can make great leaders and can make a huge impact. Loved this post!

  29. It seems like most introverts place themselves more in the middle, or at least that’s what I’ve heard from many of my fellow introverts. I don’t know why it’s seen as being a bad thing, either. I’m one, but I think that’s mostly due to many health issues which have kind of forced it upon me. I also think it’s kind of a cultural thing, honestly. My grandmother was half Swiss, and just I think due to the nature of the Swiss, she was very quiet and reserved and could be seen as an introvert. I’m very much like her in a lot of ways, but I think it’s partly the Swiss thing. My boyfriend, on the other hand, is part Indian, and I’d have to say that most of his family are extroverts. I don’t know if it’s the Indian nature that they have, but it sure seems like it.

    Oh, and I have to agree with Jacy’s comment there – people definitely think I’m snobby as well which irritates me beyond belief. I have brain damage due to epilepsy so if I don’t say something, it’s usually because my brain is a big mess of thoughts.

  30. I soooo can relate to this post. I’m an introvert myself and there are so many misconceptions which I struggled with at first, even forcing myself to try to be more “outgoing” at one time. Needless to say I was miserable at it. I’m pretty reserved but once I get to know people I open up and get along with people quite well. I embrace it now because we introverts possess lots of great qualities.

  31. I am 100% introvert. In fact I was invited to a lady’s get together down the street and declined because I just could not deal being around social people today. Most of the time when I decide to show up to an event I end up having a good time, but I have a really hard time making myself go anywhere. People love me when they are around me, and actually will push to spend time with me, but I end up not making friends because I say no too often. Sometimes I do get really nervous around people and have to excuse myself. If you were to meet me in person right now you would not realize that I am this severe of an introvert. I had a group of females at work years back that would not let go of the fact that I wanted to eat lunch alone. They would constantly make comments out loud in the lunch room how “yeah she doesn’t like us!” and “She thinks she’s too good”. I ended up eating lunch in my car or going out. Im glad I found this post because I often think I need to go to a psychiatrist because I just want to be alone. I actually entertain myself very well! I love working in flower beds, playing with my dogs, taking a walk….oh and if you see me out walking please do not ask me to go with you the next day walking with a group! HaHa!

    1. I just wanted to say a kudos to you. I am exactly the same, and as each day goes on, my introversion increases. People have a hard time because I say no to going out too often, and like you, love when I come out because I can be a ball. But ideally, I’d love nothing more than to stay at home, and not have to see people often. It just scares me and makes me very uncomfortable. I’m scared I’m getting worse in a bad way, but I need to realise I am me, and there is nothing wrong with me. If people don’t like it, then they’re not respecting me as a person and that’s not from anything bad about myself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.