“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured…Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.” – Susan Cain,
There is a common belief that the definition of an introvert is someone whom is very shy and lacks social skills. Recently after watching Susan Cain deliver a speech on the power of introverts at a TED conference, it inspired me to fight the common misconceptions on introverts. The difference between introverts and extroverts is not how many friends they have, how they like to spend their time or their self confidence.
You can determine a person as an introvert or extrovert on how they respond to stimulation, whilst extroverts crave large amounts of stimulation; introverts only require the necessary amount. It is a fact that over a third of the population are introverts, whilst they are a minority it is still a huge amount of people that are constantly being overlooked and judged for the way they think.
Whilst extroverts feel it necessary to be constantly surrounded by people, be at the centre of the social events and portray their ideas with confidence. Introverts have a different way of thinking, they are more reserved, and whilst they dislike small talk it is purely because they crave deep conversation. They feel they are able to express themselves better in writing than conversation and although they may listen more than they talk, they have a mind full of creativity.
Society portrays that the ideal student is an extrovert, bubbly, loud and always involved in social interaction and sharing their ideas. Society puts pressure on introverts to become extroverts in order to fit in, making introverts feel guilty for not “coming out of their shell”.
“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” Susan Cain
A common myth of introverts is that they dislike small talk because they dislike people, whereas it is proven that introverts don’t lack social skills, but they crave deep conversation and meaning. They feel that if you are going to have a conversation and get to know someone that you should do it properly really learn something about someone. Introverts are constantly called “too intense” due to their love of philosophical and thought provoking conversations.
Whilst extroverts often get more bored than introverts on monotonous tasks, it is because of their craving for an abundance of stimulation, whereas introverts emerge themselves in monotonous tasks and work, due to their comfort in less stimulating environments. Which is seen as a good thing when it comes to education and work, therefore why are introverts still made to feel like they lack in progression because they like to do their work secluded so their mind can truly focus?
Extroverts have taken over and although I don’t see being an extrovert as a bad thing, extroversion is being encouraged whist introversion is undervalued and misunderstood. Being reserved, sensitive, shy and serious are constantly seen as a negative thing and introverts are being reprimanded.
We are beginning to get stuck in a world of people that are constantly in conversation and in competition to “out shout” one another. The introverts have as much to offer as those who have a natural ability to be heard.
“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a centre. So we lost our centre and have to find it again.”
Considering a third of the population are introverts I am sure many people can relate to these observations and I urge people to stand back and encourage the minds of introverts and allow them to be heard. Some of the most influential people in history were introverts, including Van Gogh, Einstein, Bill Gates, J.K Rowling and Audrey Hepburn. Proving that just because introverts like to have space of their own to function, and silence to focus their thoughts, doesn’t mean that they don’t have something just as important as an extrovert to contribute to the world.
“Writing is something you do alone. Its a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”
What would the world really be like if everybody were an extrovert? We should encourage difference and encourage a little bit of silence now and again instead of using a cookie cutter to mould everyone into an extrovert.
Different minds think in different ways and we need to embolden both introverts and extroverts. Introverts don’t need to “fit in” or “speak their mind” because perhaps like me, they like to speak their mind through writing.
I encourage society to change their perception on introverts and notice their strengths and appreciate the way their minds work instead of making them feel guilty. There is no need to label people because of the way they work and think, because at the end of the day we aren’t all the same for a reason and that should be valued.