Introverts In Action - Perception is Different from Reality

When I was young, I remember people telling me that I should learn to speak up more often. I was just too quiet for a lot of them. Sure I got the occasional praise for being well-behaved. But mostly, I got admonitions to fix myself. My teachers would tell me to participate more. They like students who were loud and active. They have little appreciation for those quiet-type such as I was. I guess they figured the reason I was not speaking out is because I had nothing to contribute, which was not a good sign.
Abraham Lincoln was a successful introvert
So I can understand what my daughter must be feeling when people tell her the same thing. She tends to be shy around other people she doesn't know. She is quiet and well-behaved in school to the point of seeming passive. Her teachers are concerned a little bit about it so they involve us, her parents, to encourage her to be more active. But sometimes I feel as if this was the exact same thing that happened to me.

During my elementary school years, I didn't know there was a name for it. I haven't learned about what an "introvert" was. I didn't know it's in my genetic make-up. I thought or was made to think that there was something wrong with me. That I haven't yet learned a valuable skill.

I felt inadequate. I was hearing kids my own age speak their minds and all I could do was wish I had the same idea so I could speak up as well. But I never found the nerve to be assertive and talkative back then even with all the admonitions to change that I received. I really thought I needed to be competent in order to be self-confident. So I was focused on studying and learning to improve myself instead.

It would have been immensely helpful if I knew then what I know now about extroverts and introverts. I have learned that different people have different tolerances to degrees of stimulations. Extroverts are not easily stimulated so they are okay with loud and active environments. They actually crave for it so that interacting with groups of people makes them happy. While introverts are easily stimulated and would rather be in a quiet room reading a book. Their energy can be easily drained by the stimulations they experience so that they need time alone by themselves to recover. Of course, there is a spectrum of extroversion-introversion that people fall into that will make it difficult to identify exactly how a person would behave.

But the important thing to realize is that nothing is wrong with people who are introverts. It is just the way they are. Sure there are some skills that they need to develop to be more effective. Depending on what they love to do or what their jobs are, there will be instances when they will need to get out of their comfort zones. But introverts need not feel guilty for being who they are. In contrast, they should embrace it and develop techniques to adapt to what is required of them if needed. Introverts like me shouldn't try to change who we are because it wouldn't work. Although we need to realize that we cannot deny our needs and we ought to design a way of fulfilling them.

Ultimately, we should try to understand ourselves better before we take any action. And one of the ways to do that for introverts that I can recommend is to read the book "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. It's an enlightening book that I wished I've read before I started school. Only problem is, it has not yet been written back then. The author is an introvert herself and has devoted her career to understanding introverts. Her passion for her work enabled her to formulate effective methods on how introverts can succeed in a world that prefers the extroverts.

It's no secret that we introverts are living at a disadvantage that we should acknowledge and tackle head on. There's no denying that society is biased to the outgoing and the loud individual because of the perception they can create. The characters of the introvert are subject to criticisms of the worst kind. But we can do something about it. We should know ourselves better and make the adjustments if the situation calls for it to achieve our goals and contribute to the best of our abilities. It doesn’t mean that we have to change the way we are, it’s just accepting that sometimes we have to be willing to adapt as best as we can if we want to achieve something important to us.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons)

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