Comment on “10 Myths About Introverts” by Carl King

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
[…]
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
“10 Myths About Introverts” by Carl King

I recently stumbled upon the text “10 Myths About Introverts” by Carl King. It’s a nice collection of “myths” about introverts (two cited in the quotation above, the complete list is below):

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
“10 Myths About Introverts” by Carl King

Like in the quotations at the beginning of this posting, he goes a little into detail with each myth.

These 10 myths seem to informed by a book by a Psy.D. and psychiatrist and (mostly) by Carl Kings life experiences as an introvert. Regarding the first source, however, this actually does not tell you much about its veracity. A title or a profession is a very superficial cue. After all, there are bad … or rather some more commercially, than validity, oriented scientists and therapists who write books for public consumption. The standards they have in their professional life might not apply for this outlet. And sometimes deviations from validity “occur” without intent. It is just that the complexity and ambiguity, with which scientists have to live, can live, and often love to live, is difficult to press between two covers. And regarding the second (or rather main source): life experiences — well, he can write (the text is beautifully written). But while personal experiences certainly have meaning, they are not always reliable and valid, are often oversimplified and oftentimes cannot be generalized.

Still, these descriptions can be persuasive. I first thought they might be Barnum texts, but, nope, does not look like it. And I admit, personally, I found these myths to be very fitting for my own life and even felt a little bit of positive reinforcement for the way I live my life. However, while the text is interesting, and being flattered and pampered is nice and affirming (“hell, yeah, I’m deep and reflective“), the questions is always: Now, what do you do with this information? How do you achieve your goals nonetheless?

Just thinking “Okay, I am different and people just misunderstand me” might not help you to reach your goals and live an happy life. How can you live a happy life in a world where 10 persistent myths are floating around about you? Where people think that you are tight-lipped, shy, rude, anti-social, agoraphobic, reclusive, weird, aloof, a spoilsport, and simply unable to adapt? And let’s face it, you are seriously disadvantaged if “living an happy life” required meeting people who are “substantial” enough to live a happy life with.

Labels, no matter how fitting they feel, might even be counterproductive, if the reinforcement, the sense of “rightness”, and the feeling of inevitability (“I’m just this way and that’s okay.”) prevents you from changing something. Because it feels okay, comfortable, secure — yet, its consequences for your behavior and your life might turn out to be limiting, constraining, risk-averse. You might miss a lot of new sources of interesting, high-level, meaningful, highly pleasuring stimulation. Stimulation that might even force you out of your mind and completely in the here and now — which is … interesting in its own right.

Hmm, I must admit, I’m struggling with this issue myself (it might have gotten visible between the lines). Whether it’s close friends or a partner, it’s often a numbers game. You have to meet a lot of people to find the diamonds in the rubble — judging, of course, from your perspective, fit always applies both ways. And when it comes to conveying your ideas or creative products, you need a strength in numbers that is difficult to achieve as an introvert. And if I take the myths as valid (that they are myths), then it’s unlikely for an introvert to be best friends with an extrovert — the extrovert would babble while thinking, which would drive the introvert mad. The Internet is an obvious tool for “introverts”, albeit with a lot of noise. Then again, how was this with the beautiful: “I love free speech. I also love ignore, mute, and block.”? Still, you have to deal with a lot of noise first.

So, knowing that you are introverted, or rather, that you have a tendency to act in an introverted way, is only the first step. The next one is finding out how to reach your goals nonetheless, without giving up and using the description as label … and final verdict. And sure, some things drain energy like hell, but some are worth it. After all, when I go jogging I am not exactly conserving energy — and for good reason. I might stop jogging and it might give me more energy for a short time, but after a while it is very likely that I have less. So, why should burning energy in uncomfortable social interactions be bad? Or something to be avoided? Or something I just cannot do?

Because let’s face it, what good is it to — make only meaningful contributions, say only things that matter, get to the core issue immediately, be very selective regarding the quality of your friends, getting it quickly, be able to focus for a long time, following your own hea{d|rt}, have a rich inner world, being able to relax by yourself, and having something to contribute — if you cannot think yourself out of this predicament and make an impact.

Categories: Improving your Creativity, Inspiration, People, Realizing Creative Projects, Self-Improvement, Something to Think About, The World


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4 Comments on Comment on “10 Myths About Introverts” by Carl King

  1. You just assume that being an introvert and recognising it is something that’s going to block us off from living a happy life? That being different from what’s normal automatically means depression and unhappiness? I can’t speak for all us but I’m an introvert and very happy. I don’t think I’ve found it any more difficult to be happy than anyone else, in fact, I think being an introvert makes it easier.

  2. Daniel // 2013-11-24 at 10:09 //

    Thank you for your comment. Actually, thinking that introverts aren’t happy and are depressed and unhappy would be overgeneralizing the point I tried to make. My problem with the list is that it might lead to a “I’m okay the way I am, even if there are myths floating around”, a justification and a way to make other people responsible for difficulties in social situations. An “you need to change if you want to connect with me” attitude, an “here, that’s how you are wrong and how I really am” approach. I find this arrogant, self-handicapping, and I’m skeptical that this works.

    I think there are situations where you need to communicate actively, even if you are introverted. That you have to learn to do small talk and make contacts, even if you do not like it. And I think that you can learn it. Because if you want to be creative, if you want your works to be seen by the public, you must distribute them, and communicate well with people who can distribute them.

    And sure, some do not want to do this or are happy alone. The current posting — “Used Books” — points to a book on solitude (“The School of Genius”) that goes in a similar direction.

    Hmmm, not sure if I have made the point I wanted to make any clearer or just obfuscated the issue — my morning coffee is still brewing. But no, I do not think that introverts are necessarily unhappy or depressed. But if you “need” to be creative, being introverted can be a huge asset in learning about the topic, generating ideas, and working on the project (if you can do it alone), but I think you are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to distributing it. You need these friends, these distributors, and for this a list like these 10 myths is not helpful in my opinion.

  3. Paul allen // 2013-11-24 at 18:34 //

    I understand the point of view of everyone here. As an introvert myself, I would just like to add that the 10 myths article is not trying to provide answers insomuch as shining a light on a grey area that definitely needs to be lit. I think that most introverts would agree that being told that they are okay is a valuable first step in overcoming this problematic situation. It’s true that it takes the pressure off people somewhat, but I think those most in need don’t want to stay like that… When I was younger the fact of always trying so hard to be ‘normal’ eventually led to depression. I wish I could have had the chance to read an article like this back then 🙂

  4. Daniel // 2013-11-24 at 19:36 //

    Good points — and I agree, as a first step it might help and it is an important point that being introverted is okay. However, my impression was that this text goes a bit too far and could serve as an excuse not to change anything. The second step was missing. Yes, it’s okay to be introverted, but society being what it is, it is ridiculous to assume that everyone will adapt to introverts. And given that introverts have a lot to offer, it’s a shame if it stop’s with feeling okay, and not “Okay, now what do I do to get my points across.”

    Perhaps a Myth #11 would have been nice, something like: “Myth #11: Introverts have to accept their lot in life.”, dealing with the issue that while you will never become an extrovert, there are things you can do to meet (the right kind of) people, get your points across, and reach your goals (which often require dealing with other people).

    But yup, it’s a question of on what you focus.

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