Life becomes difficult when people fail to understand you and expect you to become someone who you do not want to be. As an introvert I’ve experienced this. When I want to be quiet, they expect me to talk and be loud. When I want to stay inside, they want me to go out and be “active”. It has not been easy, and even now it is not. Therefore, I will be writing this on behalf of the often misunderstood introverts trying to get by in a majorly extroverted society.
When I was in school, I loved helping to organise all kinds of events and enjoyed being a part of the crew; but I was horrified at the thought of being on the stage or having to talk to strangers for anything. This was always an issue for the people around me, because they wanted me to deliver speeches representing organisers or to greet the guests, which I refused almost every time. Not wanting to leave backstage was an issue for me as well and my teachers and friends who were disappointed at me for not being sociable. I often struggled with wanting to be the sociable girl they expected me to be and not wanting to be in the spotlight at the same time. I did not know what an introvert was at that time, and I used to think that something was wrong with my personality.
It was only after finishing my A/Ls that I heard about extroverts and introverts, and the topic caught my attention in a heartbeat. I looked it up on the internet, read as many articles as I could possibly read about it, and even tried the quizzes on the internet; finally coming to the realisation that I was an introvert, which explained a lot about my personality
In terms of personality, people can be divided into two main categories – extroverts and introverts (excluding ambiverts who are considered a mix of both). Extroverts are the type of people who gain energy from being around other people. They love social settings like parties and meet-ups. Usually, these social butterflies enjoy talking to new people and making friends. Often, extroverts are considered to have “good personality traits”, which are obviously based on them being sociable.
The other group of people are introverts who gain energy from being with a close group of friends or being alone. Introverts are the type who do not enjoy busy and lively events or meeting people often. They prefer being quiet, so most of the time introverts get called out for being shy and antisocial (which at times can be true).
Now I knew I had an introverted personality and the next question popped up: is it bad to be an introvert? It seemed obvious that extroverts were accepted into society with warm hugs and cheers, while introverts were told to be like extroverts, non-stop. “Talk to people more”, “Don’t be shy”, “Why can’t you be more sociable?” are a few of many things I’ve heard as an introvert. But after thinking about this for what seemed like eons, finally the answer came to me; it is not a bad thing to be introverted.
It is true that I don’t talk much, which also means I listen a lot. It is true that I don’t hangout with others much, but that also means I can enjoy being alone. It may not be the societal norm, but it is better than awkwardly trying to be someone that I don’t want to be.
Introverts are often led into thinking that they do not fit in and that they need to change to be accepted. But what is the world without good listeners who can probably save a life? What will this world become without those who can teach the art of enjoying being alone? Therefore, what should be done is that introverts should be accepted for who they are and perhaps society should help them with being comfortable in difficult times and occasions.
Fellow introverts, it’s not wrong to be quiet or want to spend some quality time with yourself. When you don’t talk, listen. Think. Dream. Those are the powers of an introvert. Have some close friends to support you during good and bad times. If you are an introvert reading this, know that you’re not a misfit. Never let those colourful fantasies fade away for they could be a reality, who knows? In the end, just remember that no matter what kind of a personality you have, make it your own and enjoy your life in your own way.
Rtr. Heshani Dharmapala
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