I am an introvert.

And, like my fellow introverts, I am sorely misunderstood.

Common wisdom says that America is a nation of extroverts and here, introversion is stigmatized. Parents worry about children who would rather play alone in their rooms than join the gang in the playground. Bookish teenagers are exhorted to break out of their shells. Adults are chastised if they would rather work alone than as team players.

Phooey.

I'm not shy, socially awkward or in any way (that I know of) socially inept. I don't hate people, I'm not unfriendly, I'm not stuck up, and I am perfectly capable of carrying on a conversation. I can even speak in public and do so fairly often. To meet me, you might think I'm extroverted.

But the difference between extroverts and introverts is not that the former are good at socializing and the latter aren't. It's that extroverts are outwardly focused and draw energy from social interactions while introverts are inwardly focused and drained by interactions.

That describes me perfectly. But a lot of people don't understand this.

I have been shamed many times for my loathing for the telephone (not uncommon for introverts), for my reliance on online interaction (ditto), and for my desire to leave parties shortly after arriving.

We introverts often try to push against our nature, having bought into the myth that extroversion is better and that it's the American way. But neither introversion nor extroversion are the "right" way to be. They're just different. And  here in this blog, we are going to bust through extroversion bias. We will embrace our our introversion, celebrate it, learn more about it, and share strategies for living fulfilled, happy lives as introverts.

Because, fellow introverts, it's time we stop pretending and apologizing, Sure, we can present an extroverted face to the world when necessary, but it takes a toll on us in private. And I say it's time to embrace our nature and start defending our case.

Quietly.

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Copyright 2009 Sophia Dembling

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