On the Lighter Side

Things People Say: Introvert Edition

Despite all that’s been written on the subject, introverts remain a pretty misunderstood bunch. Alas, the world is made for extroverts. What follows are some of the questions and comments we quieter folks are often on the receiving end of, and what we’re most likely thinking, but too polite (or too indifferent to bother) to say out loud:

1. “Why are you so quiet?” Am I really all that quiet? or are you just a chatterbox? Maybe I should ask you why you’re so loud?

But no — usually, I’ll simply say it’s because the Bible tells us that someday humans will give an account to God for every careless word they’ve spoken (Matthew 12:36). Maybe some of us don’t want to have a lot of explaining to do!

2. “You’re so quiet. Are you OK?” I’m not sure how (or why) we’ve made such a strong association between “quiet” and “not okay.” After all, talkative and outgoing are hardly sure signs that all is well: Sometimes the most gregarious people are the unhappiest. Look no further than Hollywood for myriad examples of this phenomenon.

3. “We need to get you out of your shell.” That’s not fair. I’m not in a shell, and you don’t need to “get me out.” Shells are for snails, turtles, and sea creatures, to give them a safe place to hide when they feel threatened. I don’t feel threatened, though. I just don’t have anything to say right now.

4. “You’re just shy, aren’t you.” Not at all. Here’s the difference between a shy person and an introvert: A shy person wants to talk, but can’t because they’re nervous. An introvert, on the other hand, just doesn’t feel like talking. It’s usually nothing personal. We tend to live in our heads sometimes.

5. “Speak up/talk louder.” Or maybe you need to listen harder. The world has gotten much too comfortable with drowning out anything and anyone not clamoring for attention at top volume. Who says the rest of us are responsible to cater to that?

6. “Stop being antisocial.” “Antisocial” shouldn’t be confused with “unsociable”, which is what most people actually mean when they say this. Unsociable simply means “not inclined to socialize.” On the other hand, antisocial literally means “against society”, and connotes destructive, criminal behavior, such as vandalism. Not exactly an accusation that deserves to be leveled at that quiet girl who sticks to the sides of a room at parties.

7. “You think too much.” Yes, it’s true; I do quite a bit of thinking. You should give it a try sometime!

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