The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Inverted look at introverts

2 min read
Introversion, for many people, is considered synonymous with depression, shyness and crippling social anxiety. However, introversion itself can be separated from all of these terms. Depression and introversion do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Since elementary school, fellow students approached me during my times of solitude with the intention of cheering me up, only to find that there was no cheering up necessary.



The desire to keep to one’s self is not always tied to a downtrodden state of being. While on the surface it is a nice gesture to approach someone sitting alone and attempt to strike a conversation, I believe one should stop and think about the situation a little more openly.

Perhaps this is disturbing them in their true comfort zone of solitude. Introverts are all too frequently stereotyped as being shy and depressed individuals, yet these traits are not inherently related.

Dr. Laurie Helgoe, a therapist of many years, found herself feeling overwhelmed and discontent with her profession of dissecting every idiosyncrasy and mannerism that her patients presented. Upon realizing this, she whittled her patient load down to two and started a new career as an author.

As a self-proclaimed introvert, Helgoe found herself more comfortable in a decreased and more intimate workload, in which she could give her clientele the appropriate level of attention and consideration.

Juggling a large amount of conversations, each of which needed careful examination, can easily be overwhelming for many introverts, who naturally prefer to take a careful, attentive approach to conversation based more on listening than rapid-fire exchange.

Many introverts seek solitude as a prime opportunity to hone in on their creative juices. Susan Cain suggested in the New York Times that being alone is very conducive for innovation and creativity among introverts, who work best by themselves. This preference is far more common than one may initially assume, and it far from a crutch.

Many successful and influential people, from Albert Einstein to Gandhi, all exhibited traits of being introverted. In a modern North American culture enamored with charisma, snappy retorts and creative collaboration, it is easy to see why one would associate solitude with shyness and depression.

Carolyn Gregoire points out in The Huffington Post that there is a clear distinction between introverts and shy people. Many introverts feel perfectly fine conversing with people, but may simply feel on edge in large groups of people. Perhaps they need more time to soak in all of the intricacies of a social interaction.

Shyness, on the other hand, is more closely associated with those that desperately want to be more social, but are overcome with too much anxiety to follow up with their intentions.

Introverts are alone because they want to be, not because they dislike interaction or are pessimistic sad sacks. While they can overlap, introversion and depression are not always mutually exclusive, and this error leads to far too many social misconceptions of these two groups of people.