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Embracing Your Introversion

In case you don’t know what the word “introvert” means, here’s how they define the word in the dictionary: a shy, withdrawn person. Opposite: extrovert.

Then, they added- Psychology: A person mainly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than external things. Of course, if you’re like most people, you’d have long been scared away by the word “psychology” and slammed the dictionary closed.

I’ve decided not to use that dictionary anymore.

I’d like to clear something up before I go on. Despite what that dictionary says (sue me, I’m calling out a dictionary), introverts are not necessarily shy. Sure, the two can overlap, but while shyness is the fear of social judgment, being introverted just means that you don’t require a lot of stimulation, including social stimulation. Introverts don’t necessarily fear social interaction the way shy people do. Introverts just feel at their best and their most productive when they’re in more quiet and low-key environments, while extroverts, being their opposites, might actively seek out more social interaction. These things aren’t absolute, of course, but most people do fall on either side of the spectrum and recognize themselves as one or the other.

From a very early age, I started getting a vague feeling that my idea of “fun” doesn’t seem to match up with a lot of my friends’. While I didn’t exactly mind going to the playgrounds, I much preferred to stay at home and play with my toys. At dinner parties, unless I knew the other kids very well, I would just sit quietly in my seat and read a book while the other kids go roaming around all over the place. In fact, all throughout my life, people have been coming up to me and asking why I’m so quiet, to which my only response would be to blink confusedly up at them or smile awkwardly.

So, yes, I’m an introvert, and, despite what some people might think about us, I’m proud of that. Now, in case you got the wrong idea, I’d like to say that I have absolutely nothing against extroverts. My mom is one, and she’s one of the nicest people I know. It’s just that the way I’ve heard some people talk suggests that they think of introversion as a flaw, and I’m not okay with that. I feel that saying extroverts are better than introverts is like saying boys are better than girls. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages, and, in the end, the world needs both.

Most introverts prefer quiet places over crowded places, and I’m no exception. My own mind is an interesting enough companion for me, and, as I’m sure someone famous said, solitude is often where deep thoughts come from. Now, I’m definitely not against working as a group to do something, everyone has their own ideas and are worth listening to. Being able to work well with others is an extremely useful and important skill to have. However, I believe that the ability to mull things over in solitude and not get bored is a great asset as well, and it should be encouraged, too. In fact, a lot of the most creative people in the world are introverts, such as J.K. Rowling, Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), Steve Wozniak (inventor of the first Apple computer), and numerous other artists, writers, inventors, scientists, and many musicians and actors as well, such as Emma Watson and Christina Aguilera.

Nowadays, I feel that society as a whole is somewhat biased toward extroverts. Everybody is encouraged to be outgoing and make a gazillion friends, and the people who don’t are often seen as loners or outliers. Introverted people tend to get the message from a very young age that wanting to be alone is somehow wrong. I don’t think that’s fair.

I’ve heard about some introverts who don’t understand themselves well find themselves craving for some peace and quiet, and start to think that there’s something wrong with them. They try to change themselves to be more outgoing, but any attempt to change such an integral part of oneself is nigh-impossible. Sure, you can change how you act, but not how you feel about it. Susan Cain, an expert on introverts, said that she first ended up as a Wall Street lawyer of all things, instead of the writer she’d always wanted to be, partly because she wanted to prove to herself that she could be bold and assertive, too. She was always going to crowded bars when she really would have preferred to have a nice, quiet dinner with friends. She says that she makes these self-negating of choices almost reflexively, to the point she wasn’t even aware that she was making them. As a result, she found herself unhappy and unfulfilled.

I’ve embraced my introversion, the good along with the bad. I love myself just the way I am, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I only hope that more introverts will do the same, and realize that there’s nothing wrong with them, that they’re awesome just the way they are. I hope everyone will eventually come to understand that neither introverts nor extroverts are better or worse than the other. The world needs all of us doing what we do best, after all, no matter whether you like to go partying or just curl up on your sofa with your Kindle.

By Angela Wang

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