Growing up, I was shy. Like hide-behind-my-dad’s-legs-everytime-a-human-looked-at-me-shy. But by middle school, this innate fear of people wore off, I came out of the shell and actually got moved to “Siberia” for talking too much in Spanish class in high school.
So yeah I like people, I like parties, I like socializing. But not all the time.
Introvert does not mean shy. Shyness is often outgrown, introvertism is a way of existing. Extraversion and introversion reference the way through which we re-energize, relax, rejuvenate. For many people this is done through hanging out with friends, dinner with family, drinks with co-workers, social activities. And as much as I love all those things, I will remain exhausted. I find energy through quiet and independent things such as reading, hiking, watching a movie, going to the grocery store alone, whatever, as does roughly 25% of the world population. These are times to be in my head, uninterrupted, resting. Introversion is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life”. Introverts do not need to “break out of their shell”. Introverts are not sad. Introversion does not need to be cured.
Like many things in the world, extraversion and introversion occur on a spectrum. Most of us fall somewhere towards the middle, slightly leaning one direction or another. A few fall directly in the middle, call ambiverts. But understanding and acknowledging how you draw energy is vital to living fully.
Much of our societal structure is not well designed for introverts, specifically college or most of our education system. College is a noisy, crazy, engaging fest of never ending stimulus, that I truly do love. However, we reward speaking often in class with participation points, speaking often in clubs with leadership positions, and speaking often on campus with the label of leader. We often treat extraversion and capability as synonyms. But by doing so we could miss out on a lot of incredible beings; Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, JK Rowling, Hillary Clinton, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, and Frederic Chopin– all introverts, to name a few.
This is a call for educators and leaders to understand that vocality does not always positively correlate with intelligence. This is a call to listen to those with the good ideas. This is a call to lead, even if you do so with a whisper, if you’re the one with the good ideas. And don’t feel weird if you’re the only one not yelling.
Don’t just take my word for it, here’s people who know more:
Featured photo from the Women’s March 2017