The Myers Briggs MBTI, of course, is the standard test, with it's 16 personality types based on the following: Introversion or Extroversion; Sensing or Intuition; Thinking or Feeling; Judging or Perceiving.
For much of my life, I was considered an ESTJ - Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging. At approximately 11 percent of the population, it's one of the most common personality types. Now, I test as an INFJ, which makes up a less than one percent of the population, and is the least common of all personality types. What changed? A diagnosis. Medication. Social Anxiety. Reflection. Learning who I really am and being comfortable with it.
As I've grown to love this new, or newly discovered, part of myself, I've learned that there are a lot of common misconceptions about introverts, even those of us who seem to appear to much of the world as extroverts.
Myth: We're boring; we don't like to have fun.
Reality: First of all, who goes through life truly hoping NOT to enjoy it? We don't like to have fun? Seriously? Come on. Fun is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone has a different idea of what's fun. We don't need to be in big groups having a rowdy time to have fun. Introverts prefer smaller groups in less crowded "venues" (even if that venue is your home, or mine).
Myth: We're disinterested/shy.
Reality: We don't like to be the center of attention, especially in groups. You know that dream where you show up at school naked and everyone's staring at you? Yep, that's pretty much how it feels for us to be at the center of attention. Just because we're not in the middle of things doesn't mean we don't care or aren't paying attention. In fact, we're excellent observers. You'd be amazed by what we know.
Myth: We're all quiet.
Reality: I'm Sicilian. I'm one of the loudest and most talkative people I know - just not in a big group of people I don't know well, per the reason above. Introverted doesn't always mean quiet. It means we need the right company/audience/topic. We're not small talkers, and we feel awkward pretending to be.
Myth: We don't have hobbies/interests.
Reality: You know us introverts. We just love staring at the wall and watching paint dry... We have plenty of hobbies and interests. They just may not be ones that we have to share with a lot of people, or ones that are the most popular by societal norms. But they're interests none the less.
Myth: We don't like going to events/concerts/festivals/etc
Reality: I can't speak for everyone personally, but I do like doing these things. What I don't like is having days of them in a row, especially if I'm expected to interact frequently with lots of people. Again, see the "we've not small talkers" point.
Myth: We're just not social people.
Reality: We are social. We just need social in doses, with people who specifically want to socialize with us. We need time to prepare to be with people. We can't have social occasions sprung on us, nor can we have the size of a social occasion sprung on us (i.e. I think it's two of us catching up over coffee and it ends up being me, you, and 5 of your friends I barely know at a crowded lunch). We want quality, meaningful time, with you because, after all, you're the one we planned on using our time and energy to see. And after each social occasion, we need time to recoup, because they are physically, emotionally, and mentally taxing for us, even if we're having fun.
I know the need for large quantities of alone time and the lack of enjoyment of big social groups brings can be confusing for extroverts. And please know, this doesn't mean the people in our life aren't important. In fact, they may be more-so by comparison. We only have a few that we consider close enough to let into our inner circle and our inner lives, and therefore, they are virtually priceless to us. We don't send out mass texts saying "everyone's invited" (and if we do that "everyone" is probably three or four people max, all of whom we know very well), so if we do pick you, you're special to us.
So how can introverts and extroverts co-exist socially? I think the answer is compromise. I've gone to many a 20-person-intensely-social get together because it was important to a close friend or loved one. I've sat there awkwardly trying to join in a conversation with people I don't really know, feeling even more awkward than I look, because I know they want everyone to have a good time and don't want to let on that I'm not. On the flip side, it would be nice if sometimes my extroverted counterparts suggested (so that I don't always have to seem like the "downer" by suggesting myself) something that's more my size and my speed, even if it's not necessarily their top choice. And please, value our time together. Not because I'm a warm body to do something with, to add to your group, but because you truly value me as a person, just as I value you. If we do that, I think we can all get along quite nicely.