You may have heard about the new Louder Minds Facebook Group, where introverts have literally united, separately, in their own homes. I KNOW!

It’s kind of amazed everyone, partly because the group has grown so quickly. But mostly because it turns out that when introverts feel comfortable they have a lot to say. There’s been so much interaction!

There’s something else that has really struck me as I look through the posts and comments each day.

I keep seeing this one idea, expressed again and again. One thing that seems to surprise everyone. One observation that’s almost universal in the group. It’s this…

I thought I was the only one.

I never realised how many other people felt this way.

I thought there was something wrong with me – but I’m normal.

These posts are filled with surprise at finding so much common ground with others. There’s such relief at being able to share thoughts and feelings that have felt isolating for so long. Real joy at finding one’s tribe.

No, You’re NOT The Only One

Where does this sense of introvert separateness, often lifelong, come from?

According to Susan Cain’s book Quiet, one-third to one-half of the American population are introverts.

Of course introversion-extroversion is a scale, not an either/or, and many people fall somewhere in the middle.

But that’s a lot of introverts feeling like they’re the ‘only one’!

So if introverts don’t comprise some minuscule minority, then why do they feel so… different?

The Highly Visible Extrovert

I think it’s largely that the extrovert persona is so visible.

Extroverts put themselves out there. We see them in reality TV shows, giving interviews, releasing high-energy music videos, posting selfies. I’m not saying all extroverts do this – I’m saying the people who do this are likely to be more extroverted.

Even fictional characters are usually extroverts, because let’s face it, stories about introverts could be on the dull side. Except of course for these introvert box-office blockbusters.

And as for TV shows – can you imagine an introvert-based Game of Thrones? Winter is coming – time to grab a mammoth-skin throw and snuggle up with the direwolves and binge-watch Westeros’s Got Talent.

In real life, extroverts are the ones who entertain at dinner parties, speak up in meetings, command attention at parties. They raise their hands in class and join groups and get involved and are team players.

All of which can leave introverts – with our noses in books, hiding behind the curtain when there’s an unexpected knock at the door, gnawing off our own arms to avoid group work – feeling like introverts in an extrovert world. Like a silent (literally) minority.

Sure there are plenty of successful introverts, even high-profile introverts. But for sheer being out-there-ness, the visible spectrum is mostly made up of extroverts.

Don’t Be A Victim

While we’re talking about feeling separate, there’s something else I want to raise.

I know the idea is out there that introverts are somehow disdained or deliberately mistreated.

Sure it’s true that extroverts can sometimes misunderstand and give well-meaning but unhelpful advice. But so many of us introverts are only now learning what it means to be an introvert, only just making peace with our introvert selves. How can we expect extroverts to get it, and instantly?

It’s a mistake to see extroverts as any kind of enemy. Or introverts as victims.

In the face of misunderstanding, the best we can do is practice self-acceptance. And help our loved ones understand. And remind ourselves that we all find happiness in our own quirky way – introvert, extrovert, Dothraki. And remember that a little love goes a long, long way.

Dear Introvert

So, dear introvert, please know this.

You are not the only one.

There is not something wrong with you because you like quiet and solitude and tend to get all-peopled-out.

You don’t have to come out of your shell.

You can take your time to find your own introvert equilibrium and be happy in your own way.

We introverts are all right there with you. Just don’t expect to see us. We’re probably hiding.