Being an introvert

28 08 2015

When I came across this TED talk by Susan Cain, the topic intrigued me. It shouldn’t be a surprise I guess, being an introvert myself. As I was listening to her talk though, I got a feeling that she was trying a little too hard to defend introversion and introverts. I didn’t end up watching the video to the end, after all. More than the topic of the talk, which was based on her book – Quiet, I began to get curious about my own reaction to it. Why did I feel uncomfortable? I should have been excited and felt assured that someone was trying hard to make it feel right, or better, to be an introvert. Maybe that’s exactly what my problem is. I don’t have the need to feel better than extroverts. I don’t need to be reassured. I’m comfortable already being an introvert. I never felt that it’s a shortcoming or even a less desirable trait.

Of course, I see the point that the culture stresses more importance on extroversion and treats the latter as superior to the former. But that’s not actually entirely true, in my opinion. Sure extroverts get a lot of attention, but that’s a direct result of their nature. More attention doesn’t mean more success or more happiness. I never felt under-equipped with my quiet nature. On the contrary actually.

I don’t really know the entire essence of either Susan’s talk or her book, but I’m sure she must have put forth her defense quite strongly. I don’t deny that, in many cases,  extroversion is encouraged and introversion is discouraged. More so in western culture. But it’s not healthy and, in my belief is, more often than not, the consequence of misguided and misleading notions about the exact implications of extroversion and introversion.

There also seems to be a little ambiguity in understanding the true nature of introversion and – the need to distinguish from shyness.Introversion and extroversion are simply a single continuum and everyone has both an introversion side and an extroversion side.

These musings remind me of something an extrovert friend said to me a while ago. She is a genuinely warm and social person, who makes a lot of friends effortlessly. Given the fact that she has a wide network of friends and acquaintances on which she can rely for various things,  – information, advice, help, support etc., she expressed her concern about how people like me, with a very few friends, manage. She believes that we are at a disadvantage, without a resource pool and that we must have been feeling the dearth of it quite intensely. Her concern puzzled me because, obviously the thought never crossed my mind. I tried to tell her the same and that I don’t view things the same way she does, but I’m not entirely sure whether I conveyed myself to her correctly because it was, and still is to some extent, difficult to articulate my perspective for the same reason that it’s something I never consciously thought/think about.



4 responses

29 08 2015

Isn’t it amazing how different everyone is. Right in the feels though, this 🙂

29 08 2015

Very true. Variety is the spice of life!

31 08 2015
Mae-Ann Salisbury

I found your perspective interesting. I never thought that having to explain introversion is good could be perceived as “defensive”, but this only further corroborates the claim that everyone is as diverse as the number of species of life on our terra firma. I only found it enlightening because I’ve been led to believe, for such a long time, that being an introvert was a bad thing. And knowing that many leading figures of this world were introverts was in a way comforting and reassuring. In other words, I can still dare to dream of being a force with which to contend, even if I choose a “quieter” route.

9 09 2015

That’s just my personal reaction. Maybe because I never truly felt that being an introvert is a bad thing, which maybe because I was brought up in a culture which doesn’t give undue preference to extroversion. Credit goes to the circumstances. Of all the insecurities I might have, introversion is not one of them. 🙂 I believe that both introversion and extroversion are good in their own ways – they have different roles to play. But given the popular belief that extroversion is superior to introversion, I understand the need to argue “for” introversion. It’s just that I don’t resonate with that need. I’m sure her talk and book are reassuring for many and help dispel the widespread misconception.

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