Introversion and extraversion have been a common topic in the modern society. Just to make things clear, I will start off with their definitions.
Firstly, there is no such thing as a pure introvert and extrovert.
Introverts are those people who tend to recharge themselves by spending time alone. They lose their energy by being around people for a long period of time.
Extroverts, on the other hand, recharge themselves by spending time around people. They, in fact, lose their energy when they spend too much time alone.
One other thing for me to clarify is that introversion does not equate to shyness. Shyness is about the fear of social judgement, whereas an introvert might not be fear of such a thing, just that they prefer a quieter place so that they can be contained in their own mind palace.
Introverts hate being an introvert.
I am someone who belongs to the introverted spectrum. I believe that introverts will agree with me that this society belongs to the extroverts. Many of us will find that being an introvert is a “pain in our neck” because even as the society changes and more people are starting to understand being an introvert is not exactly a bad thing, there are people who still find introversion is a liability. We are often taught that we have to learn how to accept who we are, but people still want to be an extrovert. This is because there is always a social stigma present no matter what they tell you. Extroverts love to talk and dance and sing, and they always seem to be happy. People love extroverts because they are friendly and the way they behave makes people around them happy, too.
When an introvert and an extrovert are standing on the same ground, people will tend to pay more attention to the extrovert just because they are able to express themselves. Introverts, on the other hand, their needs are often neglected, or it might seem to the other person that the needs of that introvert is unimportant just because they don’t voice their concern as often as compared to the extrovert.
Trust me, I have taken years to accept the fact that there is nothing wrong with being an introvert and loves solitary. However, it is still undeniable that this society has continued to pressure people like us to conform to the “norm” – to be talkative, extroverted and comfortable in the spotlight. Despite trying my best to accept who I am, I have tried (and still trying) to act like an extrovert so as to fit into the society. It is perfectly possible to do so, but it gets really tired at the end of the day.
The education system is tailored towards the extroverts.
This is undeniably evident from pre-school to university. The education system in a way favours extroverts because the kids are automatically being placed in a huge classroom, repeatedly encouraged joining group activities even though the students might not like it. I also believe that many of the teachers think that the ideal student is an extrovert, and extroverts are groomed for leadership position not just in class, but also eventually in the workforce just because they are able to express themselves better.
As an undergraduate, the truth is that our education system focuses a lot on participation and group work. Group discussions, oral presentations, class participation etc are all geared towards the extroverts, who learn better in high-stimulation environments. I am studying in a course where group project is the bulk of our assessment. I also have to admit that I hated brainstorm meetings, simply because we are forced to sit in a corner with your group mates and teaching assistants with magical markers in their hands to jot down ideas while they secretly assessing to see who provide the best ideas. We are also graded based on how much we participated and contributed during the brainstorm meetings. In this society where people prefer “doer” to someone who likes to contemplate, I scored low every single time in the participation component. This is because I need time and a quiet place to internalise my thoughts before speaking out, and hence it is often misinterpreted as lacking in participation in discussions.
Although participation is a good way to encourage teamwork and share ideas, we have to recognise that it might not be the best way to assess a student’s performance. We have to know that the one who speaks a lot might not give the best ideas.
The workplace seems to be against the introverts, too.
In fact, words such as “team player”, “people person”, “team leader” are often looked upon during job application. This entire process of hiring is skewed towards the extroverts. In this competitive era, it became really important to stand out in a company. It is important to expose yourself and let people realise your strength. “Girl, you have to expose yourself and stop hiding behind. Nobody will notice you. You wouldn’t be able to survive in this harsh society if you continue this way” is often a speech given by my Mum to me. I agree that in order to survive, the quality of being magnetic and very charismatic especially during a job interview is very important. But what am I supposed to do? Learn a few extrovert tricks and speak up with boldness? Yes, I will definitely do it but this is just so uncomfortable and not who I am..
Speaking of job interviews, I went for a recent job interview. Despite the employer has accepted me into the company, I was criticised for being “not outgoing”, “not lively enough” for the job position. The only reason that she accepted me is that I have the knowledge and the skills. She had left me thinking if it is wrong to born this way, to be an introvert. It was actually this encounter, which had inspired me to write on this topic.
It is hard for introverts to thrive in modern society.
It is definitely hard where everything seems to favour only extroverts who have strong communication skills. However, introverts are still able to remain who they are by choosing professions that are suitable for their personality. Even though we live in a world that won’t shut up doesn’t mean that we cant make ourselves heard. We just have to find some ways to do it so as to truly remain who we really are.