10 Myths About Being You (an introvert or highly sensitive person)

Life is a series of moments and myths. Events that affect us and ideas that influence us. Things that happen to us, things that happen around us, and things that happen within us.

Some moments hit us like a bolt out of the blue, while others work their way through our lives over time, subtly changing the way we see, think, and act. But what matters most is how we choose to respond to those moments. What they make possible. And how we work either with them or against them.

Last week I couldn’t go to work because I had to self-isolate. It was the best thing to do, but it was also difficult, because I knew things were busy and staffing levels were already stretched.

I am back in now. And to be honest…I’d like to stay at home again now. It’s a tough time to be in the funeral industry. We can’t stop, but no one wants to see us. It’s especially tough when you can’t give families what they need. When you see people grieving but you have to keep a distance. This is not how we’re wired to respond.

Energy Creation: Different Sources, Same Result

This crisis has brought into focus many natural instincts and reactions that aren’t able to function like normal. Reality has been tipped on its head, and the things we would normally expect and do, are no longer expected or doable. And it’s made me think about my natural introversion and sensitivity, because I’m thinking of some of my extroverted friends.

Those for whom energy is created through external stimulation and socialising. As introverts and highly sensitive people, we can empathise with the struggle. And hopefully it will become true the other way round too. The under-stimulation, restlessness, and boredom extroverts might be experiencing with their need to ‘go out’, is the introvert need to ‘go in’, when over-stimulated and over-socialised for too long.

The source of the the feeling might be completely opposite, but the sense of detachment and disconnection from the source of our energy is the same.

It feels like an opportunity to redress the balance. To show the gifts of introversion when the extrovert ideal is stopped in its tracks. Bringing them into focus and showing what’s possible when we take a chance to gently pause before speaking. To go inwards and take stock of our lives.

In particular I’ve been thinking about those moments we encounter throughout life that periodically shake things up. The realisations, light-bulb experiences, or unexpected events that change the way we see everything. Those things that highlight the presence of myths in our understanding of reality.

10 Myths About Me

Do you remember a big ‘aha!’ moment in your life? What was your big realisation?

I had one in 2010, when I stumbled upon a blog post, 10 Myths About Introverts by a writer called Carl King. I had never heard this word ‘introverted’ anywhere other than on news reports about ‘lone-wolf shooters’ in high schools and public spaces.

The article described a piece of the jigsaw I knew was missing but didn’t realise existed.

I didn’t really have any major dramas growing up. Being pretty chilled out, I took school in my stride, and just did what was required to get from one stage to the next. I was fairly adept at not looking completely out of place in any of the different social groups. But I often felt slightly disconnected and like an outsider looking in, wishing I was louder, quicker witted, and invested in the same things as others.

I felt miss-aligned from the apparent cares, concerns, values and world-views of society. The messages, myths, and stories in the world around me reinforced this fragmentation. “You’re very quiet” (louder is better), “you’re too sensitive” (feelings are a weakness), “you should learn to relax, come out with everyone, and have more fun” (your idea of fun is wrong).

10 Myths About Introverts

While aimed at ‘introverts’, the article was definitely just 10 Myths About Me. Almost every point felt like a mirror. They showed me the sense of tension between who the world wanted/needed me to be, and the person I felt like I might have been somewhere inside. Perhaps these are 10 myths about you too…

Myth 1: You Don’t Like to Talk

People often think of you as quiet because you don’t speak up as often as others. Others might comment on this and you might feel like you’re not very good at talking. But if someone gets you talking about something you’re interested in, you could talk for days. In fact it can be almost impossible to shut you up.

Myth 2 You are Shy

You’ve been told this time and again, because you like to feel comfortable with people before you let them see the deeper parts of who you are. You are not necessarily afraid of people, but you do need a reason to interact. You tend not to interact for the sake of interacting, and your guard will go up if someone comments on your apparent reluctance to get involved immediately.

Myth 3 You are Rude

You really value authenticity and honesty. You would love the world to be real. Yet unfortunately, this is not acceptable in many settings. The pressure to fit in can be exhausting, and sometimes it’s just too difficult to keep pretending. It’s also the case that your natural thinking face can be misconstrued as judgement and criticism, even though you might be deep in thought and appreciation for what is happening in front of you.

Myth 4: You Don’t Like People

You find large gatherings of people exhausting, and you would choose to avoid them wherever possible. Those who you value and consider to be friends are special, and they probably have a loyal ally for life. You value quality over quantity all day long when it comes to the people you come to call friends. These are the people you can spend long chunks of time away from, but whenever you speak you just pick up where you left off and time is meaningless.

Myth 5: You Don’t Like to Go Out in Public

Nonsense. You just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. You’re usually ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, this kind of recharging is absolutely crucial for you. But recharging is what enables you to go back out there again and do the stuff that matters to you again.

Myth 6: You Always Want to Be Alone

You are perfectly comfortable with your own thoughts. You think a lot and you like to daydream. But you need people to share your thoughts and discoveries with. Otherwise you get lonely. You are a human being after all! You don’t want to share with lots of people at once, craving instead, an authentic and sincere connection with one person at a time.

Myth 7: You Are Weird

You think for yourself, and because of that, you might challenge certain accepted norms and expected ways of doing things. You tend not to make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy. This can put other people on edge. It can leave them feeling judged or criticised, depending on their level of insecurity. In turn this might lead them to call you weird because you don’t pick the well-worn beaten path.

Myth 8: You Are an Aloof Nerd

You notice things at a deep level and pay attention to specific details of the world around you. Your inner world can be stimulating and deeply rewarding, and as such it’s a place that interests you…often more than the external world (especially with people who exist on the surface of it). You can get lost in your imagination and creativity for long periods of time. This is the root of all sorts of beautiful discoveries that you make.

Myth 9: You Don’t Know How to Relax and Have Fun

You may typically relax at home or in low stimulating environments, not in busy public places and crowds. Introverts have different dominant neuro-pathways to extroverts. You know what your idea of relaxation and fun is, and you know exactly how to do that…just as long as you don’t feel bad about it.

Myth 10: You Can Fix Yourself and Become an Extrovert

A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. You cannot “fix yourself” as an introvert. You deserve respect for your natural temperament and the amazing gift and contribution you and other introverts constantly make to the human race. Despite the fact you don’t always feel valued for who you naturally are.

Introverts and extroverts are wired differently, and this is something to celebrate. There is beauty to be found in every human temperament. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a world where we could transcend these labels, and just be who we are?

In the next video I explore this idea further, looking at what happens when we attach too strongly to the labels (tools) that increase our self-awareness and help us achieve our most important goals in more effective and meaningful ways.

Over to You

Have you had an ‘aha!’ moment yourself? Which of these myths do you relate to? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

  1. Thank you for this, Andy. So helpful and reassuring for those who don’t buy into the “extrovert” view of life. I had an “aha” moment a few years ago when I realised that the majority of people don’t feel comfortable entering a group of strangers, and will always gravitate to their own known “tribe” of people in any social setting, unless they intentionally choose to go outside their comfort zone and do otherwise. You only have to stand on the outskirts of a party and watch and listen to people, something I made an art of for a number of years (a very fruitful thing for a writer). It was then I realised that there wasn’t something “wrong with me”, that this was actually the normal default setting of human nature; and that there was nothing inherently ‘superior’ or ‘more successful’ about being an extrovert in this world. The same goes for being a “do-er” rather than a “dreamer” or a “thinker”.

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